Why is it correct to say (2) but not (1)

(1) You are here "for learning" English.
(2) You are here "to learn" English.

  • 1
    As an "adverb of purpose" usage, we usually include preposition for before nouns, and to before verbs. In your exact context we could in principle go with option #1 because "learning" is a gerund / noun. But in practice native speakers would normally prefer to verb over the "gerundified noun" version for verbing, where such a choice exists. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 16:43
  • Thank you @FumbleFingers Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 10:39
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Clearly to be distinguished from "adverb of causality" e.g. prison officer to inmate "You are here for murdering your wife".
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 19:04
  • @WS2: Excellent point! But although your example is clearly distinguishable (from the "adverb of purpose" You are here to murder your wife :) I feel there ought to be some similar examples where the for verbing version truly is "ambiguous". I just can't think of one offhand. Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 10:44
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers How about: "I was given this car for impressing my in-laws". That sounds ambiguous to me.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


(2) "to learn" is correct because it expresses the purpose. It answers the question "why".

Question: Why are you here?
Answer: To learn XYZ.

Speakers of Romance languages such as Italian, express purpose using the preposition per which is also translatable as "for", but in English saying why something is done is normally expressed using the infinitive. The construction "for + V+ing" is often used when referring to a tool and its function.

enter image description here

A: What was this object used for?
B It was used for opening envelopes

  • 1
    Perfectly understood. Thank you so much. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 13:16

An explanation might be shorter than even in higly esteemed Mr. Michael Swan's practical guidebook: because there is no any other prepositional phrase for substitution of the prepositional phrase with "so as to" or "in order to" as a Head word ,or just an infinitive, for any purpose clause.

E.g. I am here (Principal clause) to learn ( that is the substitute for a Subordinate Clause, being the Purpose Clause in the sentence in standard form "so as to learn"or"in order to learn" ).

You could see easily that in the sentence Is that cake for eating or just for looking at? (an example from Michael Swan's manual) the Preposition Phrase with For is a Subject Complement but not a substitute for a Purpose Clause. The same relates to the example An altimeter is used for measuring height above sea level., where the Prepositional Phrase with For is the Prepositional Complement of the Predicate in the sentence.

In respect to the sentence You are here for learning English, it might be taken as You are here (Principal Clause) and for learning English (the Subordinate Clause of Reason).

But, in such reading are many grammatical inconsistences. There is no such a Prepositional Phrase with the preposition For to substitute the Subordinate Clause of Purpose. Such case need the prepositional phrase with the prepositions As or As For. E.g. I am here as for learning English. That is why such sentence with preposition For is counted as a bit ungrammatical and open to question, or informal, when it concerns a person.

The widely known sentence Is going back to school for teaching right for you? is an example of the intentional informal English usage used jokingly in the newspaper style.

  • I'm sure all this makes sense, but is there not a simpler way of saying it with examples? Your answer seems far too complex for ELL and more suitable for ELU. It appears to me that the altimeter example is a direct contradiction of @FumbleFingers comment.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 19:16
  • The work of such language mavens as FumbleFingers and Marie-Lou A actually gave rise to this short comment on this practical conundrum on the learning sites concerning nonfinite forms. That is why it is not contradictive in essence to any their comment on the issue. We have based our conclusions on the same learning literature. The only thing that I have added was the approaches from the grammar texts from 30s to 50s last century, e.g. Onions, Palmer et. all and of several modern linguists especially about the prepositions which became rare in the modern language practice in many cases.
    – kngram
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 23:50
  • I agree, making the comment somewhat more evident for ELL has been a problem. Terminology sometimes defines complexity, as it seems. Thanks for your reply.
    – kngram
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 0:00
  • @WS2: I only said native speakers would normally prefer "to verb". But thinking about it a bit more now, I realise I don't actually have a strong preference with that altimeter example anyway. There's no doubt we all say I use a car to get to work rather than I use a car for getting to work, but I'm not so sure about He uses boy scouts to get / for getting stones out of horses hooves. A quirky example, sure. But to my mind the to verb version more strongly implies facetiously using a boy scout like a Swiss Army knife (as opposed to the boy simply doing the job! :) Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 11:02
  • (There's a potential overlap between adverb of purpose and adverb of method.) Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 11:06

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