Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

For is usually a preposition and sometimes a conjunction.

For: purpose

We use for to talk about a purpose or a reason for something:

I’m going for some breakfast. I’m really hungry.

She leaves on Friday for a 15-day cruise around the Mediterranean.

I wear these old trousers for painting.

In questions we often use what … for instead of why to ask about the reason or purpose of something especially in informal situations:

What are you here for?

What are they doing it for?

For someone

We often use for to introduce the person or people receiving something:

She bought a teapot for her sister.

Mike Cranham and his staff at the hotel cook for 800 people a day, on average.

For: duration

We use for with a period of time to refer to duration (how long something lasts):

There’s a lovely open-air pool near us. We usually go there for a couple of hours in the evenings when it’s warm enough.

Warning:

Don’t confuse for and in when referring to time:

We’re going to Cape Town for two months. (We will spend two months in Cape Town.)

We’re going to Cape Town in two months. (We’re leaving to go to Cape Town two months from now.)

After a negative we can use for and in with the same meaning. In is particularly common in American English:

I haven’t seen him in five years. (or for five years.)

For: exchange

We use for to refer to an exchange:

[sign in a food shop]

2 for £2 or £1.36 each. (Two for two pounds or one pound thirty-six each.)

I got 124 euros for 100 pounds at today’s exchange rate.

For meaning because

We sometimes use for as a conjunction meaning ‘because’. We use it in very formal, and often literary, contexts:

Chasing the white stag through the forests, never catching it, of course, for it is a creature of legend.

For in multi-word verbs

We often combine for with a verb to form a multi-word verb:

She’s been caring for her mother for years.

It’s not a good time to look for it now. We have to go.

You will find other multi-word verbs with for in a good learner’s dictionary.

(“For” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Word of the Day

white Christmas

a Christmas when it snows

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More