For: Definition, Meaning and Examples

Last Updated on
September 13, 2023

1. (preposition) indicating the person or thing that something is sent or given to, including the reason or purpose of an action: She was late for work.
2. (conjunction) because; since: He must be at home, for his car is in the driveway.

The term "for" is a common English word that has primarily two uses: as a preposition and as a conjunction. It can be used to indicate the intended recipient of something or the purpose behind an action. It can also introduce a reason or explanation. This article will dive deeply into its meanings, uses, origins, and much more. Stay tuned to enrich your understanding of the term "for."

"For" Definition: What Does "For" Mean?

"For" is a versatile word used in the English language to denote various circumstances and reasons. It is frequently used in both spoken and written English to explain a purpose or reason behind an action.

  • Purpose or reason: Demonstrating the reason behind an action or why something is being done, e.g., "I am saving money for buying a car."
  • Beneficiary: Showing who benefits from something or for whom something is intended, e.g., "This gift is for you."
  • Duration: Representing a span of time, e.g., "I have been waiting here for two hours."

Understanding the diverse contexts where "for" can be applied enhances one's proficiency in English.

Parts of Speech

As highlighted earlier, "for" primarily serves as a preposition and a conjunction. Its use can be versatile, fitting in various sentences to provide depth and meaning.

  • Preposition: "For" can indicate purpose, recipient, and duration, among other uses.
  • Conjunction: Although less commonly, it is used to introduce a reason or explanation.

This article focuses mainly on its use as a preposition but will also cover its less common uses.

How to Pronounce "For"?

Pronouncing "for" correctly is straightforward, as it is a simple one-syllable word. Below, find the phonetic pronunciation of "for," which highlights the stressed syllable.


Synonyms of "For": Other Ways to Say "For"

"For" is a common word with several synonyms that can replace it in a sentence without changing the meaning. Let's dive into some synonyms of "for" that can help diversify your vocabulary.

  • Because of
  • In favor of
  • On behalf of
  • With the purpose of
  • As a result of

Antonyms of "For": Other Ways to Say "For"

Identifying the exact antonyms for "for" can be slightly challenging because it depends heavily on the context in which "for" is used. Let's explore some possible antonyms of "for."

  • Against
  • Despite

Examples of "For" in a Sentence

The word "for" is utilized in a myriad of contexts, and understanding its application can be significantly improved through examples. Here are some sentences that demonstrate the different uses of "for."

  1. I bought a gift for her birthday.
  2. He worked there for ten years.
  3. They are fighting for freedom.
  4. She is known for her kindness.
  5. We will go on a vacation for two weeks.
  6. I am sorry for the delay.
  7. He received an award for his bravery.
  8. This medication is for headaches.
  9. She was punished for lying.
  10. He must be happy, for he has achieved his dream.

Frequency of Use

"For" is among the most commonly used words in the English language. Its frequency can be attributed to its versatile usage in various contexts, both in literature and in daily communication. Given its functionality in representing purpose, duration, and beneficiaries, it is a word that has maintained a high frequency of usage over the years, not showing any trend of decline.

Variants of "For"

"For" doesn't have direct variants as it is a unique word in the English language. However, it can be found in various phrases and idioms, integrating with other words to convey different meanings.

  • For good: Permanently, e.g., "He has left the country for good."
  • For sure: Certainly, e.g., "She will succeed, for sure."

Related Terms to "For"

The term "for" is connected to a range of related terms that leverage its prepositional and conjunctive uses. Here is a list of terms related to "for" to expand your understanding.

  1. Forerunner
  2. Foresee
  3. Forbid
  4. Forgo
  5. Forgive

Etymology: History and Origins of "For"

Exploring the origins of the word "for" takes us back to its roots in ancient languages. Understanding its historical background can offer a deeper insight into its present usage. The term "for" is derived from the Old English word "for," which has similar meanings to the current usage. It can also be traced back to the Proto-Germanic word "furi," and has Latin origins from the word "pro," which means ‘before’ or ‘in front of.’

Derivatives and Compounds of "For"

The term "for" has led to the creation of various derivatives and compounds that are used in the English language today. Here are some derivatives and compounds that have "for" as a part.

  • Forgive: To grant pardon for an offense
  • Forbid: To command not to do something
  • Foresee: To see or know something before it happens
  • Forgone: Past participle of forgo, meaning to decide not to do or have something

Common Misspellings of "For"

While "for" is a simple word, it can still be misspelled, especially in informal settings or by non-native English speakers. Here are the common misspellings of "for."

  • Foe: Although not common, some people mistakenly use 'foe' instead of 'for.'
  • Fur: In extremely informal settings or due to typographical errors, 'fur' might be used instead of 'for.'

10 Idioms Similar to "For"

The term "for" appears in numerous idioms that are commonly used in the English language. Here are ten idioms where "for" plays a pivotal role.

  1. For the time being
  2. For sure
  3. For good
  4. For the good of
  5. For once
  6. For a change
  7. For the ages
  8. For one's sake
  9. For all intents and purposes
  10. For a song

10 Common Questions About "For"

The use of "for" in English can raise several questions, especially for learners. Below, we have compiled a list of ten commonly asked questions about "for" and their answers.

1. Can "for" be used at the beginning of a sentence?

Yes, "for" can be used at the beginning of a sentence, especially when it is being used as a conjunction to introduce a reason or explanation.

2. Can "for" be used to indicate a duration of time?

Yes, "for" is commonly used to indicate a duration of time, such as "I slept for eight hours."

3. Is "for" always followed by a noun?

No, "for" is not always followed by a noun; it can also be followed by a gerund, which is the "ing" form of a verb, such as in the sentence "Thank you for helping."

4. What is the difference between "for" and "to"?

The preposition "for" is often used to indicate a beneficiary or the purpose of an action, while "to" is generally used to indicate direction, destination, or to introduce the recipient of an action. Understanding the distinct uses of "for" and "to" can help in using them correctly in sentences.

5. Can "for" be replaced with "because" in a sentence?

Yes, in some contexts, "for" can be replaced with "because," especially when "for" is being used as a conjunction to introduce a reason or explanation, such as in the sentence "He was happy, for he had won the lottery."

6. What are some common phrases that use the term "for"?

Some common phrases using "for" include "for good," "for sure," "for the sake of," among others.

7. Can "for" be used in formal writing?

Yes, "for" is perfectly acceptable to use in formal writing, and it is used in various contexts to convey different meanings.

8. Is there a difference between "for" and "fore" in English?

Yes, "for" and "fore" are different in English. While "for" is a preposition or conjunction used to indicate purpose, recipient, or reason, "fore" is an adjective or adverb indicating the front part of something or a position in front of something.

9. How is "for" used in questions?

"For" can be used in questions to ask about the purpose or reason behind something, such as "What is this for?"

10. Can "for" and "four" be used interchangeably?

No, "for" and "four" cannot be used interchangeably as "for" is a preposition or conjunction, while "four" is the number 4.


"For" is a versatile and indispensable word in the English language, showcasing a wide range of uses from indicating a purpose to showing the duration of an event. We encourage learners and speakers of English to master its usage to enhance their communication skills. Use "for" in your daily conversations and writings to express purposes, reasons, and much more effectively.

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