To/For, Part 1 (The Preposition, "FOR") - Podcast Episode 15

Audio Transcript:

Welcome to episode 15 of The English Sessions. To / For, Part 1 (The Preposition, “FOR”) . I am your host and English teacher, Mike Butler. These podcasts can help you improve your English! Together, we will talk about grammar… pronunciation… structure... and have some fun too. Remember to visit my website, to contact me for private lessons, and for more content.
You can also read the transcript of this audio on the website, as you listen to this episode.

Listen for these words today:

Buckle up - Today, I’m using ‘buckle up’ as an expression meaning “to prepare for what is about to happen”. (

Candidate - In today’s example, a ‘candidate’ is someone who hopes to win an election

Okay, here we go, it’s time for an episode about prepositions. If you have trouble with prepositions, I can assure you, you are among the 99% of my learners who do. It is one of the most common issues when learning the language.

Prepositions are little words that are hard to define. Also, unfortunately, you can’t just look at a picture of one either, like you can with nouns. If a learner doesn’t know the word ‘cat’, you can just show them a picture of a cat, but you can’t show someone a picture of ‘to’, or ‘for’, or ‘from’. Often, the definitions of these words can just cause more confusion! Also, these little words, prepositions, are often mistranslated. Let’s dive in to the topic of prepositions before you form any bad habits.

The next two episodes are specifically about ‘to’ and ‘for’. I chose to discuss ‘to’ and ‘for’ first because these two prepositions are often mixed up, especially for my Brazilian students. There are many different ways to use these prepositions. For example, there are 12 different definitions of ‘for’ in the Oxford dictionary. Today, I’m going to give examples of ‘for’, and some explanations that are, hopefully, easy to understand. There are many ways to use these words, so buckle up! This is going to be an adventure.


I encourage you to ‘pause’ this episode after each example, and repeat the example. You need to practice these and say them out loud. If you ask a native speaker of a language why they use a specific preposition in a sentence, they will probably say, “I don’t know, it just feels right”. We just become very comfortable using these prepositions as native speakers, and you need to as well. If you already have some bad habits regarding prepositions, you may already be very comfortable using prepositions that are not commonly used by native speakers. For those students, it’s even more important to pause, and say my examples out loud. So pause the podcast, and repeat my examples. Remember that the audio transcript is on the website.

Let’s talk about the preposition, ‘for’. Go to the website for pictures and videos.

#1. “For” can be used to show support. Here is my example, “I voted for the candidate that was less corrupt than the other candidate”. I supported that candidate. Again, I voted for the candidate.
- Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos -

#2. “For” can be used to indicate function. What is its function? This chair is for sitting.

#3. “For” can show the length of time. The amount of time. I have lived in this little town in the mountains for 3 years. I have lived here for three years.

#4. “For” can show on behalf of or to the benefit of someone or something. Don’t worry, I will give an example. I work for my boss.

#5. “For” can indicate an exchange. I paid $5 for a bottle of beer.

#6. “For” to show reason or cause. Thank you for the gift. Why am I thanking you? I will tell you the reason. I am thanking you for the gift.

Okay, those are six different ways to use the preposition ‘for’. These are not the only ways to use ‘for’, and remember that preposition use does change a bit depending on where you are in the world. These classes are for American English. There are many factors that decide which preposition is used. Sometimes, more than one preposition may be appropriate, but an uncommon preposition can confuse your listener or even change the meaning of your sentence. It’s not easy. Here is my advice for you, or here is my advice to you (both are common), go and read the audio transcript of previous episodes of The English Sessions, or go read a book in English. Try to spot every use of the preposition ‘for’. When you find the preposition in the book, or my transcripts, notice how and why it is being used. Do you use it that way? Maybe you should consider changing some of your prepositions if you are surprised by what you find. This is one of the most common bad habits, uncommon prepositions.

I have a story for you. Listen as I use the preposition ‘for’ in my story:
A woman walked into a market. She wanted to buy some bananas for her family (use #4). She used a cart. A cart is for holding her groceries (use #2). She was already in the market for 20 minutes (use #3), when a strange man approached her. He was selling bananas. “10 bananas for three dollars”, he said (use #5).
“Thank you for the offer” (use #6), said the woman, “but your bananas are brown and disgusting.”

That’s all for today, the next episode will be about the preposition ‘to’. Are you unsure about a preposition in your English sentences? Send me a message!

Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time, this is Mike signing off. 


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