Consider the following sentence

The policeman whistled for the automobile to stop.

The word "for " has 24 explanations in longman dictionary, which explanation can match it?

  • From the dictionary site you link to: "3 used to say what the purpose of an object, action etc is"
    – Sydney
    Jul 20, 2016 at 8:01
  • In order to make the automobile stop.
    – V.V.
    Jul 20, 2016 at 8:11
  • It is a subordinator (subordinating conjunction) introducing the non-finite clause "For the automobile to stop".
    – BillJ
    Jul 20, 2016 at 9:36

3 Answers 3


4. in order to have, do, get, or obtain something

as in:

ask for vb (preposition) 1. to try to obtain by requesting: he asked for help.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins


"a cry for help" in British English

a way of saying that you need help: Most suicide attempts are really a cry for help. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/a-cry-for-help


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In Michael Swan's Practical English Usage (para 291), the "…for…to" structure is called "Infinitive with its own subject", which is widely used in English when the subject of the infinitive is the object of the preposition for.


We can describe the goal or intention of a volitional action (command, demand, request, desire, wish, etc) using this pattern:

{subject} {verb phrase} for {object of prep} to {verb phrase}

The king called for his fiddlers to play a tune.

The audience chanted for the band to play an encore.

The policeman whistled for the shoplifter to stop.

The farmers prayed for the rain to continue.

The barista shouted for Mike to fetch his latte.

The judge pounded his gavel for the courtroom to be silent.

The child screamed for the clown to go away.

The ambulance siren sounded for drivers to clear a path.

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