I have read a story. In it little sister screams inside the house. Her brother was playing in the garden when he heard the scream "he ran for the house." He wanted to find what was happening inside the house. He wasn't scared.

I would like to know why "he ran for the house". Why not "he ran to the house." What is the difference between the two?

  • 4
    I think you really mean "I read a story". The present perfect here is a bit heavy because usually one reads the story and then it's over.
    – Lambie
    May 9, 2021 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Lambie Could you please explain the meaning of the word "heavy" here? Secondly I had just read that story and I think when an action is completed recently we use present perfect for that action.but maybe I am wrong because past simple and present perfect always confuses me.
    – Learner
    May 10, 2021 at 17:22
  • There is no reason to be using the present perfect. Here there would be: I've had a lot of problems in my life recently....Things like reading a book or seeing a movie are usually expressed using the simple past. "I have read a story and have come to the conclusion that life is beautiful". See? The PP there is different. Can't you feel it?
    – Lambie
    May 10, 2021 at 17:25
  • The word "ran for" implies purposefulness in running. May 10, 2021 at 18:46
  • Why doesn’t this question have more upvotes? It’s only got little errors in its English, and asks a question well worth asking. It should be upvoted just as much as the top answer, which, while excellent, is just composed of a native speaker’s knowledge of their own language. May 11, 2021 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


You can say "run for" when there's a sense of urgency or desperation, such as wanting to escape something, or get somewhere before it's too late. "Let's run for the hills" means "let's escape to the hills."

Also, "He ran to the house" implies that he actually got there. "For the house," however, does not indicate whether he reached it, only that he intended to. You can say it even if he collapsed on the way and never arrived.

There's also the expression "make a run for it", which means to run off to try to escape something. "It" here is empty - it doesn't refer to any particular place. The destination could be anywhere, or there might be no destination in mind at the time.

  • 1
    If you're in high school, catching a smoke behind the gym on dinner break, and you see a teacher headed your way, you run for it. :)
    – BobRodes
    May 11, 2021 at 3:38

It means he ran towards the house, as Cambridge Dictionary defines it

towards; in the direction of

They looked as if they were heading for the train station.
It says this train is for Birmingham.

Both to and for are fine.

I think for hints on purpose, whereas to just states the direction.

He runs for the house where the house signifies a place where his sister can be found (and the cause of her screaming discovered), which is his primary objective. The house as a perceivable entity you can plainly run towards is not important. The direction or the act of running doesn't matter either.

Or it could simply be a stylistic choice ;)

  • 1
    Actually, in the case of run, the meanings of to and for are quite distinct, except in progressive tenses. Based on my understanding of English usage, your conclusions are incorrect. They are quite correct if you substitute head for run, though.
    – BobRodes
    May 11, 2021 at 3:30

Josh Regev's answer explains the difference very well. But a a baseball analogy occurs to me that might clarify the meaning even further:

Carl ran to second base.
Carl ran for second base.

The first sentence means that Carl succeeded in getting to second base. The second sentence means that Carl attempted to run to second base, but doesn't state whether he succeeded in getting there or not.

Now, this is clear in past tense, but in present progressive tense, the meanings run together more. Consider this:

Carl is running to second base.
Carl is running for second base.

Since the tense means that he is in the act of running to — or for — second base, he hasn't gotten there yet in either case. So we don't know yet whether he is going to make it or not:

And Yastrzemski is running to second! There's the throw ... and he is .... OUT at second on a great throw from Parker! Yastrzemski ran for second and he didn't make it.

In that last sentence, you wouldn't use to, because the action is over and done with. Yaz tried, but he never made it to second, so he ran for second.

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