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"To" or "for"?  Which one should I use? 

 
 
Let's first check how much you know about this. Fill in the blanks below with the right preposition (to or for). Or... just read the explanation below first,  and then do the quiz.
 
"Last week I sent a letter _____ Jim.  He said ___ me, last month, that he had bought a present ____ me. But, in fact I haven't received anything yet, that's why I wrote a letter ___ him.  I also wrote a poem ____ him. I haven't sent it, yet. I will send the poem ___ Jim when I receive the present he sent ___ me. Because I know what the present is, and the poem is about the present. Jim does nice things ____ me, he is always thinking of me. He does lots of favors ___ me, too. When I was on vacation he paid the veterinarian's bill  ___ me - now I need to pay him back. I will send the money ___ his account, through the Internet.  ___ me, Jim is a great friend, because he is always there ___ me! I am always there ____  him, too!" 
 
 
 
 
The more you practice English, by reading and listening and paying attention to how the words combine together, the more you will understand and assimilate the language, and the more you will be able to use it correctly.
 
 
Now, a little bit of explanation: 
 
 
To is used when we express communication to another part; direct action (usually physical, or figurativelly physical action) toward another part.
 
Ex.  I sent that letter to your aunt.  ==> physical action directed to your aunt.
 
 
For is used to express intention; opinion; consideration. When something is done in behalf of someone (for the benefit of someone), or on behalf of someone (in name of someone, representing someone, in place of someone; or when we express an opinion about something, we use for. 
 
Ex. I sent that letter for you ==> means that I did you a favor and went to the post office and mailed that letter for you (consideration, in place of you), to  your aunt. (direct action to your aunt)
 
Is this too difficult for you? ==>  in your opinion
 
A new idea is coming to me! ==> coming in my direction (figurativelly physical action)
 
 
TIP TO MEMORIZE: 
 
 
 

For = intention, consideration, opinion

To = directed action.

 

 
 
 Compare:
 
I closed the doors for  you.  (Intention; I did it in consideration of you.)
 
&
 
I closed the doors to you.  (It has a different meaning! It means that I closed the doors and you cannot come in anymore. It's a direct action toward you, to impede you of entering.)
  
 
More examples:
 
 
Intention - I am preparing a LEP-Nuts for   you... = I am "thinking" of you, it's in "consideration" of you. 
 
Action - And I am sending it to  you ... = Now there is action toward someone or something. There is movement.
 
First I think of you (consideration, use for) then I send something to you (direct action, use to).
 
 
 
 
Intention - What else can LEP do for   you? = When LEP does things, LEP is considering you.
 
Action - What can I provide to  my subscribers? =  I provide something directly to someone. It's action, not only intention. 
 
 
 
Intention - I can't speak for my neighbors, but I think this whole neighborhood needs some improvement. (in name of my neighbors)
 
Action - I can't speak to my neighbors about this... they don't want to hear anything.(direct action toward my neighbors).
 
 
 
Now... check out your "to"s  and "for"s in the quiz above, and see how many you did right! 
 
 
How did you fill in the spaces below? ("to" or "for"?) 
 
 
"Last week I sent a letter  to   Jim. (physical action toward someone) He said   to me, (physical action toward someone)  last month, that he had bought a present   for me. (consideration, he was thinking of me when he bought the present)  But, in fact I haven't received anything yet, that's why I wrote a letter   to him (physical action toward someone).  I also wrote a poem  for   him. (mental attitude, consideration, I was thinking of him when I wrote the poem). I haven't sent it, yet. I will send the poem    to Jim (physical action toward someone) when I receive the present he sent   to  me (physical action toward someone).  Because I know what the present is, and the poem is about the present. Jim does nice things   for  me, (thinking of me, in consideration of me) he is always thinking of me. He does lots of favors   to   me, too. (things he does are direct action toward me). When I was on vacation he paid the veterinarian's bill    for me - (he did it in my behalf, in consideration of me) now I need to pay him back. I will send the money    to his account, (physical action toward someone)  through the Internet.   For me, ( in my opinion, abstract, not action) Jim is a great friend, because he is always there   for me! (consideration)  I am always there   for him, too!" (consideration, abstraction, not action) 
 
 
 
Challenge yourself a little more, you can do it!
 
* What's the right job (for or to) you? (tip: in your opinion it is...)
* Some people are mean (for or to) animals. (tip: they cause harm with their actions
* This muffin I made is (for or to) you! (tip: I was thinking of you when I made it)
* (For or To) me, this is much easier now. (tip: this is what I think, now)
 
 
Once again, remember:
 
 

For = intention, consideration, opinion.

To = directed action.

 

 

 
 
   
 

 

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