According to Cambridge dictionary we normally say: "wait for", but sometime we should use the preposition "to" with waiting, such as in the following example:

There were a lot of people waiting to use the phone.

Why do we use here "to" rather than "for", or it can be interchangeable?

  • Funny, I had thought from your posts that you would know this sort of thing. Please note: wait you=no; and wait to=no. Only wait for a person or thing.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 23:24
  • Thank you. Funny as it is, I'm not a know all. In addition, sometimes it's enough to listen to someone who makes mistake in order to make me not sure about something... Today someone told me that he waited to me. I didn't have any proof to say whether he's wrong or correct. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 23:28
  • At your level of English, I wonder why you would doubt yourself. It's pretty basic.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 23:44
  • I can blame myself for that I didn't use Cambridge dictionary that shows prepositions and I was about to close this simple question as you said, but anyway, in retrospect it shows that there is a case where we use the preposition "to" "There were a lot of people waiting to use the phone." and it's not clear to me now. I think I'll edit my question based on tat change. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


I think you're just missing the general structure wait + infinitive, when talking about waiting to do some action:

We must wait to get on the boat.

Sally is waiting until after sunset to light the candles.

The horses waited to enter the corral.

Otherwise, for just expresses the reason for the wait.

She is waiting for the 5:05 train.

I had to wait thirty minutes for my mother to finish talking to her friends.

Note you can also wait on a person

We're all just waiting on you to get ready so we can go.


The correct usage is "wait for you".

Google has a tool to see which usage is more common; while this doesn't always tell you what is right, it often helps. For these terms, "wait you" starts out at one-fifth as common as "wait for you" in 1800, but by 2000 it's 3% as common. "Wait to you" is pretty much zero throughout. I think that this is because "wait" used to be used where we now use "await"; now, if you want to omit the "for", you have to say "I await** you."

Looking through the first few results for "I wait you", the first one is "For you I wait", so that's still "I wait for you", but with different word order. The second one is "I wait, you little ones". So there, "I wait" is a complete clause, and "you" is part of a noun phrase. The third is "I wait. You shout". Again, "wait" and "you" aren't part of the same clause. So it looks like recent uses of "I wait you" are not in fact using "you" as a direct object of "wait".


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