Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

English prepositions can be extremely confusing!

In today’s episode, we answer a great question from a listener.

The question is about the grammar we use with the preposition ‘for.’

Listen in and find out the rules today and how to use it to connect in English.

Teeth and prepositions

Lindsay asks Aubrey what she is doing today.

Aubrey responds and says she’ll be picking up her kids from school early.

Then Lindsay asks, “What for?”

Aubrey shares she’s taking her kids to the dentist.

Some of her kids get cavities easily and she needs to ensure she looks after their oral hygiene.

Lindsay agrees and says some have the propensity to have cavities.

Aubrey agrees with this as not all her kids get cavities.

Lindsay points out that today’s episode relates to her asking Aubrey, “What for?”

A listener sent a question and wants to learn how to use the preposition ‘for.’

Today’s question

Hi Aubrey, what’s up? Could you please help me with a question? According to my understanding, when we have a preposition followed by a verb, the suffix ing is added to the verb. However, I’ve seen some cases that confused me. For example, I wrote the sentence: “Luis often goes out for dining”, and the English app considered it incorrect. Thank you for your help!


Verbs for connection

Fabiana had other grammar queries that Lindsay and Aubrey will answer in another episode.

Using verbs correctly is vital for confidence when connecting in English.

You want to be able to chat about what you did this week or the last time you went out to eat.

Little grammar points, like which verb tense to use and which preposition, can really trip you up.

When this happens to you it can rob you of your confidence and keep you from making that connection.

It is a big distraction when you feel you are saying something incorrectly.

Gerunds and infinitives

What Fabiana asked about is tricky in English because some verbs are followed by gerunds.

Gerunds are verbs with -ing at the end.

Other verbs are followed by infinitives.

Infinitives are ‘to’ + a base verb.

Some verbs can be followed by either depending on the context of the sentence.

Today you’ll learn two core rules to follow when you want to use the preposition ‘for.’

#1: ‘For’ followed by a gerund

The preposition ‘for’ is followed by a gerund only when you’re referring to purpose.


This pen is used for writing.
That tool is great for measuring.

Looking back at Fabiana’s example, we do not say “Luis often goes out for dining” because it’s not showing purpose.

In Fabiana’s example, she’s stating an activity Luis is doing.

So, instead you can say, “Luis often goes out to dine” or “Luis often dines.”

Should you use the verb ‘dine?’

It is very formal to use the verb ‘dine’ and it’s rarely heard in conversation.

Native English speakers will instead say, ‘Luis often goes out to eat’ or ‘Luis often goes out to dinner.’

Other options are ‘Luis eats out often’ or ‘Luis goes out to dinner a lot.’

Reserve the verb ‘dine’ for extremely formal occasions.

What for?

‘What for?’ is an informal native expression.

This means you are asking someone about the purpose of what they are doing.

You can use it when you want to know why they are doing what they are doing.

This is very informal so we don’t recommend you use this expression at work.

It can give the wrong impression and sound rude or offensive.

#2: ‘For’ followed by a noun

Referring back to Fabiana’s question, you can say “I went for a walk.”

In her example, ‘walk’ is a noun here and there’s no gerund.

The preposition ‘for’ is often followed by nouns.


She asked for some water.
He is known for his speaking skills.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Aubrey using the grammar rules shared in today’s episode.

In this scenario, Aubrey and Lindsay just ran into each other at the mall.

Aubrey: I see you bought some books! Who are they for?
Lindsay: I’m buying a present for my sister. Do you think she’ll like this book?
Aubrey: Yeah I think so! That’s a great book for curling up by the fire.
Lindsay: Okay good. I never know what to get her for her birthday!
Aubrey: Well the mall is a great place for getting inspiration.


In order to build connections, you need to be confident when having a conversation about what you did today or this week.

Prepositions and verb tense can be tricky!

It’s difficult to know which to use and the grammar after each one.

Today’s tips help you know when to use the preposition ‘for’ when chatting in English.

What other grammar rules do you find difficult to understand?

Share one in the comments below and we might highlight it in a future episode!

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