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 '20 at 22:27
  • The OP probably meant to say "contexts", not "contacts". Jun 2 '20 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 '20 at 22:57
  • @WeatherVane Your comment is so informative, thank you! And, the second is grammatically correct, right?
    – Piete3r
    Jun 3 '20 at 1:53

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.

  • We came here for swimming is acceptable, though, with ‘swimming’ as a gerund. Mar 12 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.

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.