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Cambridge grammar says:

"They went to Florida for the winter." means "They went from the beginning to the end of the winter."

So, "for" here shows a reason why we went to Florida, right?

I am sure we can say "I lived in Florida for 2 years".

But I am not sure if people say "I went to Florida for 2 years"??? Does it mean I arrived in Florida & hung around there for 2 years???

But "I had been in Florida for 2 years" sounds ok.

So, What does "They went to Florida for the winter." mean?

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    No, "for the winter" is an adjunct of temporal duration, not reason. They went to Florida for the winter means they spent the duration of the winter in Florida. Same applies to your other examples.
    – BillJ
    Apr 15, 2017 at 8:42
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    Also, "for the winter" isn't intended as precisely as the meaning you quote, it's much more approximate. For example, it could mean a period that mostly overlaps with winter and includes all or much of winter. 2 years would similarly be approximate.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 15, 2017 at 18:23

2 Answers 2

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They went to Florida for two years.

That could mean

"They have gone to Florida and will be there for two years".

or

"In each of two successive years they took a trip to Florida"

for does not necessarily introduce the purpose or reason. It can introduce a span of time. for the winter refers to the duration of their stay, not the cause of their visit.

Here are examples where for refers to a purpose:

They went to Florida for the warm weather.

They went to Florida for the orange juice.

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  • I think you're spot on here, but, if you think about it, "for the winter" could be taken to mean the cause of the visit as well. The implication would be that they went for the warm weather, but you could still say they went "for the winter," as in, "for the comparatively mild winter."
    – cjl750
    Sep 29, 2017 at 18:37
  • @cjl750: for the un-winter, perhaps :) Sep 29, 2017 at 18:43
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I think you are wondering how to say They went to Florida for the winter for the last ten years. Is this true? If so, then this is how to say that:

They have been going to Florida for ten years.

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  • Just curious--was it always for the winter? :-)
    – fixer1234
    Apr 19, 2017 at 4:35
  • You can also use winter as a verb: They have been wintering in Florida for ten years.
    – shoover
    Sep 27, 2017 at 17:44

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