I've read this from Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

avail: help toward reaching a goal

The word "toward" confuses me. Why doesn't the author use "for" or "in"?

avail: help for reaching a goal

avail: help in reaching a goal

The underlying question is what's the difference between "toward," "for" and "in" in this context.

Thanks in advance.


Unfortunately, prepositions don't translate easily between languages: you need to know how a particular preposition can be used for each verb in the target language. In English, some prepositions can have twenty or more different meanings. Yes, that does sound like a lot of work, but that's the way it is.

toward is perfect because it can mean getting closer to a goal (Oxford dictionary, meaning 1.1).

for is not appropriate: while some of the other meanings seem plausible, its meaning is to the benefit of when used with help. (Oxford dictionary, meaning 3).

the hearing aid was a great help for my mother

in works nicely because, when used with a verbal noun (reaching is a verbal noun), it means as an integral part of (an activity) (Oxford Dictionary, meaning 8).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.