Consider the following sentences

We came here to learn English.

We came here for learning English.

I suppose most of us here would agree that both of them are grammatically correct.

And I thought they mean the same thing until a native speaker told me there is slight difference depending on contexts.

However, he didn't explain the difference and contacts. Could someone help with me on this?

  • 1
    I have no idea what your informant meant by "contacts" in this context. The first is far more natural: I'm finding it hard to come up with a context in which anybody would say the second.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 2, 2020 at 22:27
  • The OP probably meant to say "contexts", not "contacts". Jun 2, 2020 at 22:48
  • It is more than a "slight" difference: the second is not idiomatic, and would immediately mark you as a non-native speaker. If you want to use the preposition for it could be "We came here for English classes" but the first is more natural. Jun 2, 2020 at 22:57
  • @WeatherVane Your comment is so informative, thank you! And, the second is grammatically correct, right?
    – Piete3r
    Jun 3, 2020 at 1:53
  • This is not a good resource for learning English. The second one is not grammatical in English.
    – Lambie
    Apr 28, 2023 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


We came here to learn English.


We came here for learning English.


"For" in this context should have a noun as it's object: "for a thing".

We came here for the cupcakes.

We came here for a specific purpose.

"For" could be used with "learn":

We came here for the purpose of learning English.

Notice that "purpose" is clearly a noun. "for the purpose of learning" and "to learn" are basically synonymous here.

How about this sentence:

We came here for swimming.

Something's strange about that.

We came here to swim.


The next question, is why. What explains the rule? This is a conundrum, because as a native speaker I know what sounds right or wrong, without always being able to say the rules. It may be due to the fact that there's a difference between a noun and a thing. Even though "learning" is grammatically a noun, it's more of an action than an object.

  • 1
    We came here for swimming is acceptable, though, with ‘swimming’ as a gerund. Mar 12, 2021 at 10:53
  • "We came here to learn English" - It's in the past. We're not learning now.
  • "We came here for learning English" - We're still here learning.

I think that could be the difference.

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