What is the difference between of, to and for?

Of

1. We use of when something belongs to, is related to, or is connected to something:

  • The rules of this game are unfair. 
  • The best part of the movie was at the end.
  • The back of the book explains what it is about. 
  • I always dreamed of becoming a rockstar.
  • That coat is of my sister's friend.
  • That is one of my favorite albums.

2. We also use of to indicate a reference:

  • I finished school in the year of 1971.
  • This is a picture of my favourite band.
  • I got a deduction of 20% on my recent phone bill.

3. Finally, we use of to indicate an amount or number :

  • I drank three pints of beer.
  • A large number of people went to my birthday party.
  • I had only four hours of class in the past week.
  • She got a high score of 100 on her video game.

To

1. The proposition to is used to indicate the location, person or thing that something or someone is moving towards. Additionally, we use it to indicate the direction something or someone is moving towards.

  • I am walking to the bookstore.
  • The package was mailed to Mr. Thomas last week.
  • She went to her kickboxing class
  • Please, send my parcel back to me.

2. To is also used to indicate a limit or an ending point: 

  • The water rose to the edge of the bath.
  • The value of the Euro increased to $1.7 US Dollars.
  • Push yourself to the limit. 

3. We use to as an infinitive of purpose as in "in order to". For instance: 

  • I used my money to get a new car.
  • I didn't try so hard to give up.

 

4. To is used to reference a time or period.  

  • I work nine to five. 
  • Summer holidays are from July to September.
  • It is ten to nine (8.50).

NOTE: We use to when two time references are given. 

5. Last but not least, we use TO to indicate relationships.

  • Your grades are important to your parents. 
  • My response to your question is in this e-mail.
  • I do not want to answer to your boss.

Please also take note that we use to before infinitive verbs

I like to walk.

I love to eat.

To be happy.

 

For

1. We use for to indicate the use, purpose or benefit of something: 

  • This stadium is for football.

  • I made dinner for you. 

  • I put a helmet on for safety.

  • He has been working hard for his next race.

2. We use for to mean "because of": 

  • I feel sorry for you.
  • I am happy for your success.
  • For this reason, I am moving to France.

3. Last of all, we use it for durations. 

  • He has been a professional footballer for many years.
  • She went to University for one year.
  • That's enough preposition practice for today!

NOTE: We use for when one time reference is given. 

Quiz:

Select the right preposition for each sentence. 

OF/TO/FOR

1) I travelled ____one hour to work.

2) I want ___go____France.

3) Stop playing video games and go ____your room.

4) I bought this present____you.

5) I was late ____school.

6) You are one ___my closest friends.

7) The cup is filled ____the top.

8)  You are so important ___me.

9) I have been working on my project ___ ten hours. 

10) I went ___London ____buy a new jacket___my girlfriend. 



Answers

1) I travelled _for___one hour to work.

Reason: one time reference stated.

2) I want _to__go__to__France.

Reason: Infinitive verb + direction of movement. 

3) Stop playing video games and go _to___your room.

Reason: Direction of movement. 

4) I bought this present__for__you.

Reason: The present was bought with the intention to give it to you. -Purpose. 

5) I was late _to/for___school.

Reason: to = direction

For = purpose

NOTE: This does not work with all locations. School and work are both a reason and a location. However, you cannot say I was late for library as that is not a reason. I was late TO the library is correct. 

6) You are one _of__my closest friends.

Reason: Indicating that you are one of a group/number. 

7) The cup is filled __to__the top.

Reason: limit 

8)  You are so important _to__me.

Reason: in relation to me. 

9) I have been working on my project _for__ ten hours. 

Reason: one time reference given. 

10) I went _to__London __to__buy a new jacket__for_my girlfriend. 

Reasons: direction + infinitive verb + purpose. 

 

 

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