This crime makes a man liable (for/to) transportation (for/to) life.

Which are the correct prepositions to use in the above given sentence ? I googled for their usage and found both to and for being used with liable. For second preposition in question for seems best option as only this (transportation for life) conveys the correct meaning which I assume is that transportation for life time other prepositions ( to and till his ) don't convey correct meaning.

  • transportation? Do you mean life imprisonment? lThis crime makes a man liable to receive a life sentence.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 19:18
  • liable is likely, too. That said, to be liable for something, as in liability, means you may have to pay for it if a court or insurance authority says you have to. So, it's best not to use liable here as they two can be confusing. Liable as likely to be is more AmE than BrE. Also, you still have not explained transportation.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


Both to and for can be used with liable, but they are used in very different circumstances.

Liable to is usually seen as part of the form liable + infinitive, and indicates what someone is likely or probable to do:

He is liable to want a beer with his dinner.

Liable for indicates someone has a debt, legal obligation, or responsibility:

Since he crashed my car, he is liable for the cost of repairs.

In your example sentence, both of them would use "for".

Edit: I've actually now found a number of example sentences in British English with "liable to" used in the sense of a legal obligation, just as with "liable for". So the first one may be acceptable either way in BrE - although as an AmE speaker, I would say that "liable for" is, at least on this side of the pond, the normal phrasing when discussing legal obligations.

Since the original sentence is British English (American English would not use "transportation" in that sense), I will defer to people with more knowledge of BrE on which they would prefer.

  • I think the construction (liable to want) in your first example is incorrect.
    – user212388
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 14:21
  • 1
    It's a correct usage, but "to" is not a preposition in that case - "to want" is a verb in the infinitive.
    – PMV
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 14:24
  • How can you decide what preposition to use when the sentence is all wrong?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 19:19
  • liable for is about legal liability and liable to means likely to.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 19:19

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