'For' is a widely used preposition. However, that is not its only function. In this lesson, we will discuss all about this word.

How to Use "For" in English?

For as a preposition is widely used. To learn its functions, follow the lesson.

Functions of 'For'

1. 'For' as a Preposition


1. For in the structure be + for + someone shows something that belongs to someone. Like:

This bag is for me.

This sentence is not as frequent as 'this bag is mine.'

This present is for you.

2. For shows the reason or cause of something. In this case, it has a similar meaning to because of. For example:

I feel better now for my vacation.

'For' can be replaced with 'because of.'

You do it for love.

If it is not for you, he wouldn’t invite us to the restaurant.

3. For is used to show people's feelings, emotions, or thoughts in relation to someone or something. Look:

I'm afraid for him.

It means 'I'm worried about him.'

I feel sorry for him.

I've got some feelings for Anna.

I don't like it because it's too sour for me.

4. For shows the distance, an amount of time, a specific time, or an occasion. Take a look:

  • Distance

I walked for 5 miles.

She will drive for 3 miles.

  • An amount of time

I have been waiting for over two weeks.

She will have it for a day.

  • A specific time

I have some guests at the coffee shop for 9 o'clock.

I have a date for May 3rd.

For the last/first time, I tell you this.

  • An occasion

I will call you for the Christmas party.

She is going to buy a gift for your birthday.

5. For shows the purpose of something. Look:

There are some pens for sale.

I need a day off for going to the party.

I will go to the lake just for the sheer fun of it.

6. For shows the function of something. For example:

We got a Persian rug for the TV room.

This is a ruler for painting.

7. For has a similar meaning to get, obtain. For example:

I am running for the bus.

For my vacation, I have to pay $360.

8. For is used to show the speaker's expectations compared to reality. For example:

For his age, he's not brave enough.

For a beginner, she has reached her manager’s expectations.

9. For is used when offering help. For example:

Can I do that for you?

Can I replace this for you?

10. For has a similar meaning to in the direction of. Like:

I am heading for the bus station.

There are blue signs for the gallery.

'There are blue signs in the direction of the gallery.'

This train is for Tuscaloosa.

11. For shows what something means. For example:

This red light is for stop.

I know K for potassium.

12. For is used after some verbs to introduce a verb complement. Take a look:

  • For means in exchange. For example:

I'll pay $700 for a silver spoon.

He would swap this for that.

  • For is used with some verbs like argue, have evidence, be, vote, etc. and has a similar meaning to in support of. Like:

I have some evidence for this issue.

I'm for what you said.

They voted for the cancelation of this rule.

  • For is used to show someone is the representative of a company, a team, or a country. Look:

I work for Google.

He played tennis for France in 2002.

  • For comes with 'be' to show who is responsible for doing something. Look:

It's for me to decide whether we go or not.

It's for her to talk to her boss first.

13. For introduces adjective complements. It comes after adjectives and heads an adjective complement that completes the meaning of the sentence.

  • For is used with some adjectives like responsible, unsuitable, famous, known, etc. For example:

I am held responsible for feeding his dog.

That's unsuitable for me.

This place is famous for its Asian food.

  • In the structure adjective + for + someone + to do for introduces adjective complements. For example:

It's good for me to talk to you.

It's pleasant for her to learn English.


For is used before the determiners 'every' or 'each' and shows a comparison between two numbers or two amounts. For example:

For every person, we have two meals.

one person = two meals

Position in a Sentence

For as a preposition comes before nouns or pronouns. For example:

I have a present for you.

'You' is a pronoun.

For visa, I have to travel to Armenia.

2. 'For' as a Subordinating Conjunction


For as the subordinating conjunction has a cause/effect function and has a similar meaning to because. Remember that for introduces an adverbial clause. For example:

I didn't say anything for I was nervous.

Position in a Sentence

For as the subordinating conjunction is used to connect the dependent clause to the main clause. For heads the dependent clause and makes it an adverbial clause. That means the adverbial clause can be placed before or after the main clause because it acts as an adverb. Look:

I didn't say anything for I was nervous.

This could be 'For I was nervous, I didn't say anything.'

3. 'For' as an Adverb


For as an adverb is used to describe or add another information to the verb. Like:

There was a discussion about our trip. My parents voted for, while I voted against.

Position in a Sentence

For as an adverb comes after verbs. For example:

35 people voted for.


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