Uploaded by jaxek48582

meaning of FOR

Thèse présentée
à la Faculté des études supérieures de l'Université Laval
dans le cadre du programme de doctorat en linguistique
pour l'obtention du grade de Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.)
© Carleen Gruntman, 2011
The present study is an attempt to determine whether there is a core meaning,
or potential meaning, that determines the 31 main uses of the preposition for in
discourse. The theoretical approach adopted is based on Gustave Guillaume's general
theory of the Psychomechanics of Language in which it is postulated that, even for a
word that appears to be highly polysemous, it is possible to hypothesize one meaning
that explains all observed usage. In order to formulate an explanation regarding the
meaning oi for, an analysis of authentic texts was carried out, in addition to giving
careful consideration to the explanations and descriptions found in grammars and
dictionaries. The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British
National Corpus (BNC) provided most of the authentic texts analyzed for this study.
The actual observation of for in these corpora involved grouping the corpus examples
according to common collocations, primarily of the various types of verbal lexemes
found with for, and then determining whether a common semantic element could be
ascertained in the co-lexemes of for which determined their occurrence with this
preposition. Further insights were provided by observing the types of noun phrases
that occur after for, particularly with verbs of movement, and contrasting these
observations with the data found with the same verbs when construed with the
semantically related preposition to.
As well, from a diachronic perspective, it was
necessary to consider how for developed from a limited use, possibly involving one
single sense, into a wide variety of multiple senses, and whether or not this first sense
can contribute to a more unified explanation of modern-day usage of for. The position
taken in this thesis is that for contributes a meaning in all its uses, even in the so-called
complementizer function in for...to constructions where it implies future-oriented or
forward-looking directionality in the form of the ear-marking of an event for a
prospective subject. Fur's semantic contribution was also discerned in usage with verbs
expressing various forms of future orientation such as desire, request, effort or
purpose. After careful observation and analysis, it was hypothesized that for represents
a movement bringing into association two entities such that one entity comes to occupy
the space belonging to the other. When combined with contextual factors, this
unspecified potential can give rise to four main types of expressive effect, those of
exchange, attribution, obtaining and matching.
Towards the Meaning of For. A Corpus Analysis
Les recherches présentées dans cette thèse portent sur la préposition anglaise
for. Ce mot jouit non seulement d'une haute fréquence d'emploi en anglais, mais
également d'un double statut, pouvant s'employer tantôt comme préposition, tantôt
comme conjonction. À cela s'ajoute les 31 sens différents qui peuvent lui être attribués
selon les contextes, d'où les nombreuses difficultés liées à l'enseignement de ce mot
dans le cadre de l'apprentissage de l'anglais langue seconde.
Cette étude vise à déterminer s'il existe un signifié de puissance unique qui
déterminerait en langue les divers emplois de for en discours. Elle s'inscrit dans le
cadre de la psychomécanique du langage. Il n'existe par ailleurs à ce jour aucune étude
de corpus sur le signifié du mot for. C'est pourquoi cette recherche s'appuiera sur une
analyse approfondie des emplois de ce mot à partir d'un corpus constitué de plus de
5,000 exemples attestés, tirés de la langue écrite et parlée, analyse qui sera effectuée
dans une perspective tant diachronique que synchronique.
Dans le débat en grammaire cognitive entre prototypicité et schématicité, cette
étude plaide en faveur d'un seul signifié schématique pour la préposition for, qui
nonobstant son caractère abstrait, conserve suffisamment de matière lexicale pour lui
éviter l'étiquette de signifié «délexicalisé».
First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the participation and essential
contribution of Professor Patrick Duffley, my thesis supervisor.
Not only did he
provide expert guidance, his patience went above and beyond the call of duty giving me
the freedom and time to complete this dissertation. For this I will be forever grateful.
As well, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Walter Hirtle, always
encouraging, whose introduction to the study of language and especially the works of
Gustave Guillaume, ultimately sent me in pursuit of the ever, maybe forever, elusive for.
Dr. Barbara Bacz's careful reading of an earlier draft of this dissertation was
invaluable with respect to the rigours of academia. Her comments ultimately allowed
for a more cohesive and structured dissertation, thank-you.
I also remain grateful to Dr. John Hewson, member of my examination
committee, for his indispensable and significant comments.
As well, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those friends and
family members, notably Ron and Pascale, whose encouragement and support kept me
on track, ultimately getting me to the finish line.
During my studies, I was honoured and grateful to be awarded a bursary from le
Fonds Gustave Guillaume. In addition, I am thankful for the financial support awarded
to me for professional development from the École des langues de l'Université Laval
and the Syndicat des chargées et chargés de cours de l'Université Laval.
Finally, this thesis is dedicated to Kay and Art, in memorandum, for they made it
all possible.
Table of Contents
General Introduction
1. The Problem
2. Objectives
3. Corpus Methodology
3.1 Preliminary Remarks
3.2 The Corpus
3.3 Method of Analysis
3.4 Order of Presentation
Chapter 1: The Theoretical Framework
The Theoretical Approach
Other Approaches
Defining Prepositional Meaning
4.1. A Cognitive Approach to Lexical Analysis
4.2 A Psychomechanical Approach to Prepositions....'.
5. Lexical Monosemy
6. Prepositions: Function Words?
7. Various Descriptions
Chapter 2: For. A Diachronic Perspective
Problems of Terminology
For, Fore, and Pro
Prepositional Development: Configurational Syntax
Recorded Dictionary Meanings: Old English to Modern English
Chapter 3: Complementizer or Preposition?
1. Preliminaries
2. For-To Complementizer Explained
2.1 Diachronic/or NP to V Construction
3. Characteristics of the For-Complement
3.1 Subject of the Infinitive
3.2 Other Characteristics
4. For Complementizer: Semantically Empty?
4.1 Semantic Interpretations
4.2 Lindstromberg: A Prototypical Meaning
5. Verbal Matrix Predicates
6. Conclusion
Chapter 4: Verbs Signifying Movement
Data Organization and Analysis: Verbs of Movement
Verbs of Direction
3.1 To Go
3.2 To Arrive
3.3 To Depart
3.4 To Head
3.5 To Leave
3.6 To Return
3.7 To Come
3.8 To Set Out
3.9 To Set Off
3.10 To Set Sail
3.11 To Travel
Verbs of Manner-Specified Movement
4.2 To Crawl
4.3 To Walk
4.4 To Wander
4.5 To Stray
4.6 To March
4.7 To Fly
4.8 To Dash
4.9 To Rush
Verbs of Bodily Movement:
5.1 To Climb
5.2 To Reach
5.3 To Scurry
5.4 To Bend Down
5.5 To Stoop
5.6 To Slide
Concluding Comments
Chapter 5: Future-Oriented Verbs
1. Preliminaries
2. Verbs of desire
2.1 To Crave
2.2 To Hanker
2.3 To Hunger
2.4 To Pine
2.5 To Thirst
2.6 To Hope
2.7 To Long
2.8 To Wish
2.9 To Yearn
3. Verbs of Request
3.1 To Appeal
3.2 To Ask
3.3 To Bargain
3.4 To Beg
4. Verbs of Effort..
4.1 To Strive
4.2 To Struggle
4.3 To Labor
4.4 To Try
5. Verbs of Purpose
5.1 To Fish
5.2 To Hunt
5.3 To Fight
5.4 To Grope
5.5 To Forage
5.6 To Aim
5.7 To Apply
5.8 To Campaign
5.9 To Wait
5.10 To Look
5.11 To Watch
6. Concluding Comments
Chapter 6: Verbs of Speech and Expression
1. Preliminaries
2. To Argue
3. To Plead
4. To Speak
5. To Preach
6. 7o Teach
7. To Cry ;
8. To Yell
9. To Roar
10. To Shout
11. To Mutter
12. To Explain
13. Concluding Comments
Chapter 7: Towards a Potential Meaning
Preliminary Comments .,
Main-Use Descriptions
2.1 Before
2.2 Representation
2.3 Support
2.4 Purpose
2.5 Of Advantage or Disadvantage
2.6 Of Attributed or Assumed Character
2.7 Cause or Reason
2.8 Of Correspondence or Correlation
2.9 Of Reference
2.10 Of Duration and Extension
Towards a Potential Meaning Hypothesis
3.1 Fur's Potential Meaning
Concluding Comments
Chapter 8: Final Conclusions
1. Preliminary Comments
2. Determining Fur's Potential Meaning
3. Concluding Remarks
General Introduction
1. The Problem
For, a high-frequency word in English can function as a preposition, a
conjunction, or as a complementizer {cf Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman 1999: 639)
and has been attributed as many as 31 distinct lexical senses. Thus, it comes as no
surprise that for, like other frequently occurring prepositions, is especially difficult to
teach to learners of English as a second language. The present study was undertaken in
an attempt to determine whether there is a core meaning, or potential meaning, that
determines the use of for in discourse. A clearer view of this meaning would allow a
clearer view of the influence of contextual factors on the resulting message of
utterances containing this preposition and help to organize the various senses in a
more coherent and comprehensible manner.
Determining a core or potential meaning begins by observing and analyzing
language in context such as provided by a corpus of actual language use. A survey of the
literature reveals that linguistic observation and analysis based on corpus analysis or
authentic data is by no means relatively recent. The Alexandrians in the third and
second centuries B.C. searched for recurrent parallels in texts and the Stoics cited
examples from texts to demonstrate differences in grammatical structures. As well, the
great nineteenth century Danish grammarian, Otto Jespersen, and the American
structuralist, CC. Fries, used authentic data, be it in the form of literary sources
(Jespersen) or letters written to a government agency and recorded telephone
conversations (Fries). Unfortunately, with the advent of transformational grammar,
using a corpus or actual texts from written or oral discourse was largely abandoned
because, according to Liles (1971: 7), "the transformationalist is more concerned with
the system that underlies the language than he is with the actual speech of an
individual...." Consequently, this approach focuses on "competence," which belongs to
the fictitious ideal speaker rather than on performance, or actual use of language by a
real speaker to produce discourse. If "competence" is taken in the realistic sense of a
real speaker's subconscious knowledge of language however, one can argue that it can
be accessed through a speaker's performance as attested by a corpus containing
authentic data.
It is this interpretation of the competence/performance dichotomy
which is adopted here. With respect to prepositions, this usage-based approach has
been taken by Lindner (1982) on up and out, Brugman (1983) on over and Todaka
(1996) on between and among.
In these studies, authentic texts, such as found in a
corpus, provided the data on which these authors based their observations and drew
their conclusions.
In any case, according to Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman (1999: 411) there is
no known study "that has focussed on the meaning (s) of for in authentic texts." While
the study of words and grammatical structures in English has been progressing for
many years, there has only recently been a return to sound scientific methodology
involving authentic texts, due in large part to computers and their capacity to store
large databases of real language examples. Perhaps this explains why there has yet to
be a study on for in authentic texts.
This study is based on the hypothesis that it is possible, even for a word that
appears to be highly polysemous, to determine one meaning that will explain all
observed usage. Clearly it will be necessary to define the semantic content of for and
the extent to which the context and speech situation contribute to the messages
conveyed by utterances containing this preposition. Most grammars describe the
grammatical relationship observed between two sentence components as either spatial
or temporal, treating this relationship as the 'meaning' of the preposition. For these
grammarians a preposition's meaning is derived from the nature of the relation that it
expresses in a given sentence. For instance, Quirk et al. (1985) provide at least 9
categories of prepositional meaning, giving the impression that there is one category
per use. Their account is based on the point of view that prepositions are described
with respect to "relational meaning" such as PLACE, TIME, INSTRUMENT and CAUSE,
though they do acknowledge that "it is difficult to describe prepositional meanings
systematically in terms of such labels" and consequently add that "meanings are
elucidated by paraphrase, by antonymy, or grammatical transformation."(p. 320) In
any event, the nature of the meaning expressed by the preposition in the case of for can
be either spatial or temporal, an observation that raises the question as to whether
spatial for is a separate form from temporal for, a homonym, or whether for is indeed
polysemous. However, if for is polysemous, and has different senses in different
contexts, then what explains the use of the same sign to express them? Clearly for must
have meaning on its own before being used in a context or situation because, as Hirtle
(1989:135) states, "if one combines a number of meaningless words to form a context,
the context itself will be meaningless." On the other hand, if the 31 different senses
expressed by for are all homonyms, how is the listener to know which of the 31
homonyms is appropriate in a given context? In other words, if there is no indication on
the level of sign as to what meaning is being expressed, how is the speaker to know
whether, in the case of for, a spatial or a temporal relation is being expressed? This
then is the problem according to Hirtle (1997: 69):
how to account for a difference of meaning when there is no difference in the
visible or audible signs expressing those meanings, when in fact the principle
of differentiation must lie, not in what differentiates two contexts, nor in what
differentiates two words, but in what, within a single word, differentiates two
of its meanings.
In other words, the problem is to define a semantic content that can explain the
message conveyed by an utterance containing for in its numerous and various uses
beyond the specific nature of the relation being expressed in each individual sentence.
Naturally, the teaching of multiple senses of a preposition to second language
learners is difficult, with the not surprising result that the latter misuse or avoid using
this preposition. This can be observed in the examples below taken from usage of
advanced students of English as a second language:
*... he had us deliver the piano on Friday, he promised to pay pizza, (instead of to pay
for the pizza)
* Without her job, she would not be able to pay her studies, (instead of to pay for her
* Mom, you don't have to search a painter anymore, I found someone, (instead of to
search for a painter)
*...will be eligible to the draw, (instead of eligible for the draw)
* When she was young she rode her bike to school for the time of her elementary and
high school studies (instead of during the time)
If grammar books are to be of greater service to the learner and teacher, then
prepositional meaning must reflect a lexical content that can help one to understand
and explain all observed usage rather than simply enumerating uses and treating the
messages observed in each use as if they were different meanings of the same
preposition. The aim of this study is to formulate an explanation regarding the
meaning of for through the analysis of an extensive corpus, giving careful consideration
to the explanations and descriptions found in grammars and dictionaries. The results of
this study will determine whether one of/or's actual meanings as observed in discourse
is more central, or more prototypical, and the other meanings somehow derive from it,
as purported by Prototype Theory, or if in fact a potential meaning, albeit abstract, can
be described with enough lexical content to avoid the label 'delexicalized'.
2. Objectives
This research will be the first study to examine actual language use for the
purpose of determining the basic meaning of for. Based on the analysis of over 5,000
attested examples from written and spoken English obtained from sources such as the
Brown University Corpus, the British National Corpus, the Corpus of Contemporary
American English, the aim of this study will be to address the following specific issues:
1. To systematically observe and analyse/or in modern-day usage.
2. To determine and formulate a core meaning, or potential meaning, that explains all
the observed uses offor in discourse.
3. To situate the potential meaning within a theoretical framework.
4. To identify the lexical content of for.
5. To understand through the meaning of for why it combines with certain words and
not others.
6. To understand through the meaning of for its many different functions in a
3. Corpus Methodology
3.1 Preliminary Remarks
This study of for utilizes a typical scientific methodology involving three phases:
observation, reflection and analysis. These phases are based on an inductive approach
in which generalized conclusions leading to a potential meaning hypothesis are formed
based on a finite collection of specific observations of authentic examples. It is a
corpus-based approach in which actual language is studied in naturally occurring texts.
While the goal of this thesis is to determine a central underlying meaning, or potential
meaning, the actual observation of for in numerous corpora also aims to uncover
typical patterns of language use and analyze the contextual factors influencing
variability. This approach is much in keeping with Biber et al (1998: 3) who describes
the central research goals of corpus study as "assessing the extent to which a pattern is
found and analyzing the contextual factors that influence variability." The quantitative
measurement will involve the collocations of for and how frequent each of these
collocations is. On the other hand, the grammatical associations will reveal how for
functions in a sentence and how systematic patterns arise from these associations.
Thus, it is hoped that through the analysis of lexical and grammatical associations
insights can be gained into a core or potential meaning of for. Obviously,
comprehensive studies of usage, "cannot rely on intuition, anecdotal evidence, or small
samples; they rather require empirical analysis of large databases of authentic texts, as
in the corpus-based approach." (Biber et al 1998: 9)
3.2 The Corpus
The corpus on which this study is based is composed of more than 5000 attested
examples found in the following sources:
The Brown University Corpus
The British National Corpus
The Collins Cobuild Bank of English
The Corpus of Contemporary American English (Brigham Young
5. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition
6. Grammars, articles and books listed in the bibliography
7. Examples collected personally
Actual citations in the thesis number 515, most of which are representative examples
of the sense being analyzed. By selecting representative examples it was not necessary
to cite all 5,000 examples, which would have swelled the size of the thesis excessively.
3.3 Method of Analysis
The corpus analysis involved analyzing the various examples by first of all
grouping them into already known relationships. An important part of this involved
grouping the corpus examples according to the collocations found with for. A further
dimension of this problem is whether a common semantic element can be ascertained
in the lexemes collocating with for, which determines their occurrence with for. Collins
Cobuild (1990:164) provides an example of some of these words:
account for
ask for
care for
go for
make for
settle for
allow for
bargain for
come for
head for
plan for
watch for
answer for
call for
fall for
live for
provide for
Swan (1995: 445-449) lists other common combinations of for with nouns, verbs or
adjectives as:
anxious for
look for
reason for
search for
congratulate/congratulations for
pay for
responsible/responsibility for
sorry for
Analyzing the corpus with respect to the above collocations has led to further insights
about for. Consideration will also be given to examples that do not fit into any of the
above categories. In addition, the frequency of occurrences, when pertinent, will be
noted as a way to determine the most common usage.
Then, a more fine-grained analysis of the meanings of for as described by a
selection of grammars and dictionaries, especially the OED and Webster's, was
undertaken with a view to applying the observations and preliminary conclusions to
these descriptors' proposals of for"s meaning. The OED's descriptions of meanings are
based on thousands of actual attestations from a wide variety of printed sources. Thus,
the corpus analysis of for has directly or indirectly involved thousands of authentic
uses of for. This corresponds to a scientific approach using the method of induction,
going from observing particular uses with specific individual examples to the general
level, at which a hypothesis is formulated to explain all of the particular facts found in
the data.
3.4 Order of Presentation
The first chapter describes the theoretical approach taken in which the word is
considered as the basic unit of language, with each word being seen as having its own
semantic content, or mental representation, independent of and prior to its utterance
in any particular sentence. As well, other theoretical approaches with respect to
prepositional meaning are considered, in particular approaches that consider
prepositions as having a purely syntactic function with little lexical content.
In the second chapter, for is considered from a diachronic point of view. On the
semantic side of the problem, the question of to what extent the lexical content of for
has been reduced through the process of generalization to make for a highly
polysemous word is investigated. In this chapter, the development of for from a limited
use, possibly involving one single sense, into its multiple senses, is observed, and the
question is raised as to whether or not this first sense can contribute to a more unified
explanation of modern-day usage of for.
In the third chapter, the proposal that for has a 'complementizer' function is
evaluated, as well as questioning certain claims found in the literature, such as whether
for-to complements are limited to emotive complements, when for functions as a
complement or as a preposition, and if the some of meanings proposed for for by some
authors, in particular Bresnan (1979) and Lindstromberg (1996), can explain this
particular use of the preposition. What does emerge in this chapter, with the
examination offor in phrases composed of for + NP + to-infinitive, is an impression of a
meaning-content implying both motivation and directionality. This first impression
became a cornerstone with respect to formulating a hypothesis regarding for's
potential meaning as that of a movement
Chapters 4 to 6 involve the actual analysis of the examples selected from the
various corpora. In particular, Chapter 4 is dedicated to verbs signifying movement
that co-occur with for and where applicable when for can be opposed to the closely
linked preposition to. Chapter 5 is dedicated to verbs implying a future orientation for
the realization of their lexical content. Chapter 6 is dedicated to verbs of speech and
expression. As a result of observing hundreds of examples in these chapters, a clearer
image of for's potential meaning begins to emerge, especially the observation that the
largest number of uses relates to purposes, motives and intentions. This led to some
preliminary conclusions about for's potential meaning as bringing to the message an
impression of a forward movement leading to a (desired) result, or a resultant
situation, with the movement representing a means to achieve the desired end.
Chapter 7 presents a preliminary postulate regarding for's potential meaning, as
a forward movement leading to a result. This first preliminary postulate is then
applied to the main uses of for with a view to further refinement of the postulate
regarding for's potential meaning. Once a final postulate was determined, one that can
be applied to all the main senses offor as determined by the OED, a schematic diagram
of this meaning is then presented. Then, as within a fully scientific method, the next
step was to test the hypothesis by applying it to specific uses.
Chapter 8 presents final conclusions by summarizing how for's potential
meaning was determined through observation, reflection and analysis. In addition,
some consideration is given to areas that require further research.
Chapter 1
The Theoretical Framework
1. Introduction
The use of a corpus assumes that linguistics is a science of observation based on
the scientific method, a method that involves observation and reflection. This study is
based in addition on Gustave Guillaume's general theory of language, also known as the
Psychomechanics of Language, a theory that considers the activities of observation and
reflection to be intimately linked. However, it is important to note that while a corpus
can provide an object of study, it is not the only reality of language. Discourse as
reflected in a corpus, is in fact a product created by language users and for this reason
it must be analyzed taking into account the mental processes involved in the
production of this product. Therefore, the study of language, involving observation and
reflection, must be considered with respect to two facets of language, one being
discourse (the corpus), which is what Guillaume considers the "physically visible" and
the other, tongue, at the subconscious level, which he refers to as the "mentally visible".
Thus it can be argued, as explained below, access to "tongue" is obtained only through
reflection on what is visible in "discourse".
Guillaume never mentioned the importance of observation in
linguistics without stressing that it must be accompanied by
reflection. Convinced as he was that, on the mental side, the
reality of language is largely subconscious and so extends far
beyond what direct observation can reveal, he realized that this
hidden part can be reached only by analysis, by reflecting on
observed data. He often spoke of observation and reflection in
terms of their results —seeing and understanding—or in terms of
their objects—the perceivable and the conceivable. And he
frequently pointed out that the linguist must commute between
the perceivable and the conceivable in his effort to understand
what he sees and to see what he understands.
(Hirtle, 1984: XII)
Consequently, observation of the corpus, the "perceivable" is intimately linked to
reflection on the "conceivable", for it is in the realm of the subconscious that resides the
ultimate reality of language-tongue, a reality that does not belong to the realm of the
observable but is nonetheless real, and which constitutes the principal causal factor
lying behind discourse.
Scientific reflection on the conceivable cannot be a mere flight of fancy,
however: a theory is required to provide the framework or guide in which this
reflection can take place, for without it a coherent explanation linking all observed uses
would in all likelihood be impossible. Yngve (1986: 2) makes much the same point
when he argues "...for observations unconnected to adequate integrating and
interrelating theory are little more than a mass of unorganized facts, and thus only a
feeble contribution to linguistic knowledge." Moreover, observation of a corpus can
reveal usage and patterns of usage not explained by grammars or instances that
contradict current explanations. Thus an attempt must be made to reflect on these
occurrences in order to explain their use. However, any attempt to explain these
observations outside of a linguistic theory would mean adding another explanation of
usage to what is already written and therefore continuing to support the 'separatemeaning-for-each-use' model. This would not advance our understanding of this
preposition but would only contribute to the impression that for is highly polysemous
and impossible to understand.
2. The Theoretical Approach
Gustave Guillaume considered the word to be the basic unit of language and
each word to constitute the means by which a speaker can voice, through discourse or
inner dialogue, his experience. Hirtle (1993: 50) writes that "the meaning expressed by
a sentence, or set of sentences constituting a discourse, is a linguistic reconstitution of
an experience which itself is unsayable" and that "this meaning can be expressed only if
it has first been represented by words." In other words, Guillaume postulates that
words are the means of representing experience through language and that a word is a
unit made up of a physical sign and a mental significate. Furthermore, this 'mental
significate' or meaning, according to Hirtle (1997:112) consists of both a lexical matter
proper to that particular word and a grammatical form. Lowe (1996a: 83) describes the
word structure of English in the following way:
In English ... the lexical matter of a word is individuated in
tongue, established in the subconscious as a particular lexeme
distinct from every other lexeme in the language. As such, a
lexeme in English is particularizing and tends to be expressed
byasingle phonological sign.... The grammatical form of a word,
on the other hand, is generalizing in the sense that it categorizes;
that is, it situates the particular lexeme in one of a limited set of
broad categories, the parts of speech.
This implies that the choice of a word is meaning-motivated or experiencemotivated, which in turn suggests that the syntax of a sentence is not autonomous of
meaning but instead is influenced by both the lexical and grammatical meanings
expressed within each of the words of which it is made up. Indeed, Hirtle (1998: 97)
implies a certain coherence between the words when he states that syntax results from
"preconscious mental operations of relating one meaning component to another."
Thus it is argued that each word has its own make-up, or mental representation,
independent of and prior to its utterance in any particular sentence and is not
dependent upon the context evoked by the sentence for its meaning, but instead
contributes meaning to the sentence. Meaning it should be pointed out, does not refer
directly to reality, but instead to the speaker's experience of reality, since the external
world has to first be mentally experienced by the speaker before it can be represented
mentally and talked about.
In this way, every lexical element involves a representation corresponding to its
semantic content, referred to as its meaning, or significate1, which in turn is linked to
its corresponding phonological form, referred to as its sign2. However, representing
the world of experience corresponds to only one side of the language coin, the other
side being expression. In other words, language is the tool, through words, by which we
represent and express our conception of reality or our world of experience. Yet,
representing and expressing our experience would not be possible without an act of
language, a dynamic process called on any time we have something to say about
something. This process, or operation, involves two facets of language, namely tongue,
which can be described as a set of mental programs that a speaker has available in his
subconscious and the other, discourse, which is actual language consisting of words and
sentences. In other words, according to Lowe (1996a: 78), within the theory of
Psychomechanics, an act of language:
occurs whenever a speaker calls on the resource of tongue to
represent, to make sayable, some portion of his experience and
then goes on to say, to express, what he has represented, producing
thereby a bit of discourse, a sentence. When a person speaks, when
he performs an act of language, he carries out an operation of actualization
between tongue and discourse, of realization between potential and
actual, of transition between permanent and momentary, (italics added)
Other corresponding terms for significate are sememe and alloseme.
Also known as morpheme and allopmorph.
Tongue, therefore, provides the means for representation or rather gives the speaker
the instrument needed to represent his experiences for "without representation, no
expression would be possible" (Lowe, 1996a: 78). Discourse, on the other hand,
represents the actualization, or result, of the act of language.
Language thus has two modes of existence, tongue and discourse, involving two
distinct types of operation, namely representation and expression permitting the
passing from one to the other, and two types of meaning. First, a potential meaning or
significate in tongue, which is a generalized representation of experience, or "a
collector or condenser of impressions" (Lowe, 1996a: 80) and, secondly, actual
meaning as observed in a sentence. This meaning is one actualization of the potential
meaning in tongue and can be described as an expression of a particular experience, or
"a conveyer of impressions" (Lowe, 1996a: 80). In other words, the actual meaning
observed in discourse is a reduction of the potential meaning, which is unobservable in
tongue, to one of its possible meanings, which is appropriate to the specific situation
being expressed.
Language, then, is essentially a dynamic process consisting of a series of
operations between tongue and discourse, or "an acquired mental program for
actualizing the appropriate words to represent the intended message and combining
them into sentences to express it" (Hirtle, 1994: 113).
Thus a maxim of
Psychomechanics is that at the root of language we find tongue, a system of systems,
with the system of the word at its basis. The word-forming mechanism which
constitutes the system of the word not only. involves a "regular means whereby
experience may be transmuted into a linguistic representation linked to a sign" (Lowe
1996a: 80), but also the means by which a word's significate incorporates two types of
meaning, namely lexical and grammatical. From the point of view of a representational
mechanism, according to Hirtle (1993: 52), "this means there must be an operation of
ideogenesis to provide the lexical component and an operation of morphogenesis to
provide the grammatical component." It is in this way that the lexical significate
determines the notional content of a word while the grammatical significate
determines the formal content of a word, such as number, gender, tense, mood, and
more importantly especially with respect to prepositions, the syntactic function of a
word. In a language such as English where, unlike in Eskimo (Lowe, 1996a: 81), word
order is quite strict, prepositions are used to indicate the relations between words in
place of grammatical suffixes such as those found in Eskimo. Thus it follows that the .
system or operation of word-forming must be closely linked to the system or operation
of sentence-forming. In other words, syntax is not based on arbitrary rules, but rather
on the grammatical and lexical meanings of a word; consequently, according to Hirtle
A meaning-based approach seeks to describe how any word is
constructed in thought, meaningwise, in such a way as to permit
it to be used in a sentence, to permit it to enter into the syntactic
relation the speaker wished to establish for it. That is to say, a
meaningful approach to language leads to a theory based on the
word because in any language the first form for expressing meaning
is the word and so the nature of a syntactic relationship is seen to
be conditioned by the nature of the words involved.
This, then, presents a view of the word not as a form to be studied solely from
the point of view of how it functions in a sentence, or solely with regard to the lexical
notion attributed to the word, but instead with a view to discerning how the two, the
grammatical function and the lexical notion, both contribute to the meaning expressed
by a sentence. The purpose of this study is to attempt to determine a potential
meaning to be derived not only from the grammatical component, or relational
function of the preposition in the sentence, but also from the lexical component. To be
understood and properly taught, prepositions must be defined with respect to their
lexical notion and not just with respect to their grammatical role or function.
According to Guillaume (1984: 119), "a word with a material meaning, a word which is
a lexeme, contains indications as to both its fundamental meaning and its intended use
- the role, defined within certain limits, it is slated to play in the sentence."
In addition to the semantic content of the words of which it is composed, the
message conveyed by any utterance is also a product of the context and co-text in
which the utterance occurs. The speaker treats the hearer as an intelligent coparticipant in the communicative act, expecting him to infer the total message not only
from what is expressed by the words uttered, but also by putting what is said into
relation with general knowledge of the world and particular knowledge of the speech
situation and what has been said so far in the conversational exchange. It is extremely
important to distinguish between meaning and message. One of the main goals of our
research is to show how one linguistically-signified meaning can give rise to a
multitude of different messages according to what other sorts of meaning it is
combined with and the different types of context in which it is used.
3. Other Approaches
The study of prepositions can be done from two points of view, grammatical and
lexical, the former focusing on the function or role of the preposition in the sentence
and the latter concentrating on what if any meaning a preposition contributes to an
expression. Indeed, there does seem to be agreement among linguists (cf Hirtle, Bates,
Schulze, Langendoen) that prepositions "carry little meaning" or are "highly
This has led Bates (1976: 353) to state that it is "tempting to
distinguish a great number of distinct uses for each preposition; in this way most
prepositions appear to be polysemous." This comment is based on the view that
prepositional meaning is nothing more than a description of the senses expressed in
various sentences; in this way lexical content is ignored, if in fact, there is any lexical
content postulated at all. In other respects, grammarians diverge as to whether or not
prepositions are "words", "structure words" (Kolln, 1982: 113), "grammatical words"
(Lowe, 1996a: 81), "morphemes" (Rosenbaum, 1967: 24) "particles" (Schulze, 1987: 4),
"meaningless formatives inserted for purely grammatical purposes" (Chomsky in
Langacker, 1992: 296) "as an annoying little surface peculiarity" (Asher & Simpson:
1994: 3303) or simply as "appendages to nouns or pronouns" (Asher & Simpson: 1994:
3303). Prepositions are often analyzed in conjunction with the noun phrase that the
preposition governs, i.e. as "prepositional phrases." In some cases, prepositions are not
defined on their own as separate words with a distinct lexical meaning but rather by
their syntactic function, as in Jackson (1980: 69):
In these cases the preposition has a purely syntactic function
in relating a verb, adjective or noun to a following object or
complement. It is more or less meaningless, since it cannot be
replaced by any other preposition and thus enter into a
meaningful contrast
Another case in which for is generally treated as meaningless is when it is used
to introduce the subject of an infinitive. The term "complementizer" was first applied to
this use by Rosenbaum (1967), who claims that for functions as a 'marker' with respect
to predicate complements and "co-occurs only with the complementizer to" (p. 24).
This analysis makes for a mere sign, not a word with a distinct lexical or grammatical
interpretation. Similar analyses of for + noun + to-infinitive are proposed by Seppânen
(1981), Mair (1987) and Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman (1999), all of whom focus on
the function of the/or-phrase in the sentence.
Unlike these authors, who consider the complementizer function of for from a
syntactic point of view, Kiparsky & Kiparsky (1970) analyze this function according to
the semantics of the matrix verb: according to them the for-to complements "occur with
a semantically natural class of predicates...which we term EMOTIVITY... to which the
speaker expresses a subjective, emotional, or evaluative reaction." (p. 169). Menzel
(1975:78) clarifies Kiparsky & Kiparsky's position by stating, "embedded sentences
with the surface form for NP to VP are embedded under matrix verbs with the features
[+ EMOT] and [-FACT] ...because FOR-TO complements cannot take the head noun
fact..." In other words, with respect to 'fact' "the speaker presupposes that the
embedded clause expresses a true proposition" (Kiparsky & Kiparsky, 1970: 147).
Unfortunately, these authors give 'factive and emotive examples' such as, important,
crazy, odd, in addition to 'non-factive and emotive examples' like improbable, unlikely, a
pipedream suggesting that the complement can be either [+FACT] or [-FACT] in
addition to [+ EMOT]. If, as Menzel (1975) suggests, the features of the matrix verb,
namely [+ EMOT] and [-FACT] determines the type of complement, then the question is
how can the above predicates like important, crazy with the feature [+FACT] etc., occur
with for-to complements? While it is not the purpose of this dissertation to explain this
contradiction, (cf Mair, 1987), it does point to the complexity of analyzing for
independently of its own semantics and only from the point of view of the semantics of
the matrix verb or the semantics of the predicate.
Carroll (1983: 424) in her study of Ottawa Valley English (OVE) argues that "for
shows up as a preposition in front of to-infinitives but is a complementizer when it
shows up before NP subjects." This implies that/or sometimes has meaning (expressing
the notion of purpose, for instance, in / am here for to fish) and sometimes not (We
waited for somebody to repair the car). Such a position is obviously problematic: how
can a meaningful element suddenly lose its meaning in certain contexts? This study
will take a close look at for in its use to introduce the so-called subject of an infinitive in
order to discern what is going on in this case.
Relevant to this problem is Duffley's (1992) work on the English infinitive and
further research on the semantic role of the preposition to. He (2000: 232) uses the
following examples to point out that the nuance between the direct-object construction
and that with a prepositional phrase can sometimes be extremely slight:
a. He craved pardon
b. He craved for pardon.
Furthermore, he points out that the prepositional phrase in (b) has a semantic parallel
with infinitive constructions as in He craved to be pardoned. This same view is reflected
in Seppanen (1981: 388) who claims "the three forms of postmodifier, for NP, to V, and
for NP to V... seem to be semantically equivalent." A logical conclusion might be that
the /or-phrase shares some of the semantic content of the to-infinitive complement.
This hypothesis will be further investigated in the present study.
The various approaches taken with respect to for underscore the need for an
explanation that can take into account the various functions of for, why for occurs with
certain verbs and adjectives, to what extent the matrix verb governs the use of for, why
for is the preposition used to introduce the "subject of the infinitive" in a/or + noun + to
+ infinitive construction and under what circumstances for is a direct or indirect object
In order to be complete, this explanation must consider not just the grammatical
function but also the lexical content of for and how this contributes to the various roles
and functions offor.
4. D efining Prepositional Meaning
While the role of prepositions in sentences has been observed in considerable
detail, what is not so well understood is how the lexical content conditions this
functional role. Indeed Curme's (1947: 19) definition of a preposition as "a word that
connects a noun or pronoun with a verb, adjective, or another noun or pronoun by
indicating a relationship between the things for which they stand" continues to be the
standard one. Hewson & Bubenik (2006: 39), based on Guillaume (1982: 130-132),
describe prepositions as "non-predicative" parts of speech, and distinguish them from
"predicative" parts of speech, i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs: the former are
grammatical and function within the "internal system of language" while the latter are
lexical and represent "perceived categories ... of the experiential world." Other studies
give the impression that prepositions bring no meaning at all to the sentence. Thus, for
the most part grammar books neglect any description of meaning with respect to
prepositions, mostly providing explanations that correspond to the syntactical
properties of this category. This has led Schulze (1987: 3), Quirk et al. (1985), Jackson
(1980: 69), among others, to suggest that the syntactic environment determines the
semantics of prepositions. This implies that prepositional meaning is merely relational,
functional and grammatical, determined not by the preposition itself but by the
surrounding verb or noun phrases, and leads to the description of prepositional
meaning as denoting temporality, spatiality, topic, purpose, similarity, instrument,
accompaniment and so forth.
That prepositions are considered relational, or functional words fulfilling a
purely syntactic function is not surprising considering the fact that some prepositions
have taken over the role of inflections indicating grammatical case. Historically, case
forms that once expressed the relationship of one word to another, denoting notions
such as location, possession or instrument, have now been replaced by the prepositions
such as at, of and with. This view has influenced some grammarians, among them
Jackson (1980: 88), who considers prepositions as relational words that "sometimes ...
mean some specific relation, such as 'place at which', 'direction', 'time when', 'cause'."
Similarly, for Fries (1940) the meaning of a preposition is determined by the inflection
it replaces; moreover, because meaning and function are the same with respect to
prepositions, these words are claimed to have little or no meaning. Yet, the fact that
not all prepositions originate from the disappearance of inflections - for example for raises the question of how such prepositions can evoke a meaningful relationship
without having at least a minimal meaning. Perhaps what needs to be considered is
whether it is the syntactic environment that determines a preposition's meaning, or if it
is not rather the preposition's meaning that determines the syntactic environment.
4.1 A Cognitive Approach to Lexical Analysis
Recent attempts have been undertaken within the theoretical framework of
cognitive linguistics to explain prepositions in terms of a lexical analysis. Claudia
Brugman's work on the preposition over presents a point of view in which she
proposes that the relationship expressed in the sentence is directly related to
experiences in the world, which give rise to the preposition's meaning, as she explains
in the following passage (1983: 3):
I will be demonstrating that imaginai representations of the spatial
relationships studied are necessary for explaining the various senses
of the word. The "representational" depictions in the paper are not
identical with the mental representations, the nature of which I can
make no claims about. However, since the depictions exploit familiar
spatial configurations existing in our experience of the world and I
believe our understanding of such configurations to be grounded in
those experiences, / do believe that the depictions bear some resemblance
to the corresponding mental representations... (italics added)
In other words, according to Brugman, her concrete depictions on paper of spatial
relationships with respect to over resemble, though are not identical with the mental
representation or meaning of the preposition. Yet to what degree her "depictions" are
the meaning of the preposition is not defined, as only a certain degree of resemblance is
claimed: "the depictions bear some resemblance to the corresponding mental
representation."(my italics) Ungerer and Schmid (1996: 161) reflect Brugman's work
on over by describing "mental representations" as "cognitive patterns" as indicated in
the following passage:
...locative relations like—OVER—and—UNDER... are regarded as IMAGE
SCHEMAS, i.e. simple and basic cognitive structures which are derived
from our everyday interaction with the world. The idea is that by experiencing
for example many instances of things-over-things we have acquired some
sort of cognitive pattern or schema of the OVER-relationship which we can
apply to other instances of the locative relation.
Through these "cognitive patterns or schémas" or "representational depictions" these
authors present a static set of components or patterns that arise from our everyday
interaction with the world and that to a certain extent are the mental representations,
or meanings, of the preposition.
Sandra and Rice (1995) raise the question as to whether the network analysis of
prepositional meaning mirrors the linguist's mind or the language user's. Clearly,
Brugman's representational depiction of "things-over-things" for the preposition over
does not respect British usage in 77?e post office is over the road from the grocer's, which
Hall (1986: 27) describes as meaning "on the other side of. American usage would call
for the preposition across in this example. Is this then a case of prepositional meaning
mirroring the linguist's mind rather than consideration for all usage? Or, again,
according to Sandra and Rice (1995: 92), could it be more the case that "different
linguists are likely to make different distinctions between usage types and to propose
different networks for the same preposition" because there is "a lack of explicit criteria
for distinguishing between usages." Perhaps the problem is not just "a lack of explicit
criteria" but as Hirtle (1994: 111) points out "it would be an error to reduce language
to merely signaling the experience of the speaker, to mirroring the intended message."
Certainly there is a connection between the world of experience and the meaning of a
preposition in a sentence. After all language is a necessary tool for expressing our
thoughts or experiences arising from our interactions with the external world. And
with locative prepositions it seems to make sense to describe their meaning with
respect to our actual experiences in the real world and then to apply these meanings to
more abstract utterances. In this way, / am over him, meaning that one is no longer
emotionally attached to someone, can be explained as a metaphorical application of the
spatial over as in The plane is flying over the city. However, while locative or spatial
prepositions can be mostly understood with respect to actual experience, does this
indicate that prepositional meaning is external to the mind? Korrel (1991: 12), within
the Guillaumian tradition, maintains that "we cannot put our experience into language
if in our preconscious we have not formed generalized images organized in systems
which are there at our disposal whenever we wish to think or say something." While it
can be argued that Korrel's "generalized images" reflect Brugman's "representational
depictions", what is not clear from Brugman's work is how the "representational
depictions" are part of an overall preconscious system nor what it is that allows for our
experience to be organized as depictions or patterns.
Wege (1991: 277) points out with respect to these authors that for them the
semantic structure of prepositions is stored in terms of diagrams and not in terms of
features. In fact, Wege (1991: 282) describes a lexical model for prepositions as
including three kinds of features, namely "an inherent one concerning the arrangement
between two entities, a relational one corresponding to a conceptual schema, and a
third one concerning the original semantic domain." Wege (1991: 278) describes
'inherent features' or attributes as an arrangement of two referents. With respect to the
preposition over, the inherent feature is the arrangement of two referents on an
imaginary vertical axis. The 'relational feature' or attribute corresponds to a different
conceptual level, which she indicates can be either a conceptual schema of rest or
motion, or of PLACE and PATH. With respect to 'semantic domain', she states: "it may
be assumed for all prepositions that the semantic domain in which they occur
originally constitutes one component of their lexical meaning" (p. 282). Furthermore a
use of a local preposition in non-local contexts is according to Wege, a metaphorical
extension of its original meaning. She seems to suggest that the semantic domain of a
preposition can be dependent on other "lexical entities" which would indicate that
prepositional meaning is variable and that prepositions are polysemous. In fact, with
regard to polysemy, Wege (1991: 284) writes that "a core meaning underlying all
meanings of a polysemous lexeme is far too abstract in character to be stored
permanently." In our view, the necessarily decontextualized nature of meaning as
stored outside of particular uses is conducive rather than inhibitory with respect to
This raises another question: can the analysis of locative, or spatial prepositions
in determining their lexical content as described above be applied to prepositions that
express a temporal relationship?
With respect to temporal uses of English
prepositions, according to Bennett (1975: 95) "there are a number of respects in which
the temporal analysis will not parallel the spatial analysis." He argues that "this
asymmetry is the result of two well-known properties of time, its unidimensionality
and its unidirectionality" (p. 95) versus the three-dimensionality of space.
Furthermore, unlike Brugman, Bennett (1975: 4) puts emphasis on "intra-linguistic
semantic relationships, rather than on the relationship between linguistic items and
the world in which we live." This brings us back to the basic question: is the semantic
value of a preposition to be found only in the observed relationship expressed in
discourse, or only in the "relationship between linguistic items and the world in which
we live," or in a pre-instituted, unconscious meaning, derived from our experience of
the world and actualized in discourse to represent and express a particular intended
4.2. A Psychomechanical Approach to Prepositions
In a psychomechanical approach, prepositions are seen as words and not as
mere appendages to nouns. Nor are they merely grammatical elements, but words with
both a lexical content, albeit abstract, and a grammatical content. A meaningless word
is linguistically impossible according to this theory of language, as each word
represents something in the experience that the speaker wishes to express or in the
intra-mental realm of the concepts used to refer to one's experience. Each lexical
representation is formed in such a way as to allow it to be placed in a cohesive
relationship with the meanings of other words. Indeed it is the role or function of the
preposition to bring parts of the sentence into a cohesive relationship that would not
exist without a preposition, and through the preposition's material or lexical notion to
characterize the nature of this relationship. Lowe (1996b: 66-67) describes the raison
d'être of the preposition from the Psychomechanical point of view:
Si l'on admet, à l'instar de Guillaume, que la langue est un système
prévisionnel, la préposition, tout comme la conjonction de
subordination, apparaît alors devoir son existence à divers types
d'hiatus syntaxiques (...) susceptibles de se produire, dans la
construction d'une phrase, entre deux mots ou deux groupes de
mots, hiatus que la préposition et la conjonction de subordination
auraient pour effet de combler. Cet hiatus, cet intervalle psychique
ou diastème comme le désigne Guillaume, la préposition le résout
en réalité de deux façons. Elle le résout formellement, d'une part,
en rendant effective la mise en rapport envisagée entre deux termes;
elle le résout matériellement, d'autre part, en précisant, par le contenu
de signification qui lui est propre, la nature du rapport par elle établi
entre les deux termes.
In other words, the general syntactic function of prepositions is the same from
one preposition to another, namely that of establishing a relationship, or according to
Psychomechanics allowing one word, or group of words, to be incident to another.
Indeed prepositions owe their existence to the semantic gap1 or interval arising
between sentence elements, when one word (or group of words) cannot come into a
direct relationship with another word because the mechanism of incidence is
Syntax, then, in Psychomechanics, can be explained as the result of operations of
incidence, with each part of speech making possible certain of such operations. The
role of prepositions is to intervene as the need arises within this system, a need that is
ultimately determined by the experience the speaker wishes to express. However,
while the existence of a gap or interval created when the mechanism of incidence
provided by other parts of speech is not operational explains the functional role of
prepositions, what needs to be determined for a full explanation of any given
preposition's actual uses is the semantic role of the preposition in question. Indeed, as
Cervoni (1991: 276) points out, the choice of a preposition is determined by its
À l'instant où pour combler un diastème, il est fait appel à une
préposition, le choix qui s'effectue est commandé par une exigence
d'accord sémantique, que le linguiste conçoit comme une "convenance"
entre le sémantisme de la préposition et "l'argumentation" qui s'est
développée dans le "diastème."
A case in point is the pair of French phrases un verre à vin (a wineglass) and un verre de
vin (a glass of wine), in which the difference in interpretation is attributed to the sense
the preposition contributes to the overall message expressed by the phrase.
Guillaume theorizes that through its lexical meaning the preposition conveys a
reference to a limit and that each preposition denotes a position either within or
When the relation between two words cannot be made directly there is a "semantic gap", or "intervalle
psychique". This gap is bridged by the preposition.
beyond the reference limit. He therefore sees the lexical import of one preposition as
forming a lexical system with that of another preposition, one representing a
movement toward a position prior to a limit, the other away from or beyond the limit.
Using the examples of the French prepositions de and à Guillaume (1997: 47) writes:
...l'import de la préposition est une limite de référence dont la préposition
est l'en-deçà ou l'au-delà: de est l'au-delà d'une limite; à, l'en-deça de la
même limite. Raisonnablement, on met l'aller avant le retour, l'en-deça
avant l'au-delà: fe vais à Paris ;Je viens /Je reviens de Paris.
This could be diagramed as follows:
at—involves no movement, position
of contact with the limit
of— no movement, the possibility
of a movement of withdrawal
from the limit
While this abstract binary system provides a working hypothesis for
systematizing the lexemes of prepositions in tongue, it is not clear whether it is
applicable to all prepositions. Hewson & Bubenik (2006: 48) make an attempt to apply
it to English by dividing the 28 core prepositions identified in Ogden's Basic English
into 14 binary pairs in which:
...the first element may be seen as the movement towards a limit, and the second
as a transcendence or departure from the limit so established, each set forming
a radical binary tensor (see Guillaume 1984: 118-119), contrasting'goal and
source, where T marks the term for reversal of the vectors.
In the case of the prepositions at and of, as indicated in the binary tensor model below
(c/ Hewson & Bubenik, 2006: 49), there is an initial movement toward the term T,
followed by an orientation away from T, indicating a contrast between a 'goal' notion
corresponding to at and a 'source' idea corresponding to of.
The sense attributed to at is thus that of a movement of orientation leading up to a
limit, while the sense of of is a movement of orientation away from the limit. The
application of the theory to the data is problematic however, as there is no discernible
idea of movement in the meaning of at observed in There is a hardware store at the
corner of King and Waterloo Streets. Even in He threw a rock at the dog, the idea of
movement comes from the verb throw, and at simply expresses the contact, or possible
contact, of the rock with the dog, thereby representing the dog as a target The notion
of'contact' is also proposed by Wierzbicka (1993: 438) to characterize the meaning of
at in the temporal use of this preposition, regarding which she hypothesizes that the
explanation for the fact that at implies sameness of time lies in the idea of contact with
the point in time denoted by the noun phrase following the preposition.
Moreover, the radical binary tensor cannot be applied indiscriminately as a
universal instrument of linguistic analysis. Some grammatical categories are only made
up of one member - this is the case for the definite article in classical Greek and the
basic demonstrative ce in modern French. In these cases, there is no binarity to which
the tensor can be applied and the meanings of these items must be defined in and for
themselves. It will be argued here that this is the case for the preposition for. Hewson &
Bubenik (2006: 49) place for as the initial half of a binary tensor in which it is opposed
to by as 'goal' vs 'source' within the shared domain of 'path', as shown in the diagram
—% T
Thus in / did it for you and it was done by me, Hewson & Bubenik argue that the path of
the action shows you as the goal and me as the source, with T being the end-point of the
movement for for and the starting-point of the movement for by. The problem is that
without a context it is impossible to know whether the use of for in / did it for you
expresses the idea of intended beneficiary or that of substitution ('I did it in place of
you'). In the substitution sense, however, there is no impression of a goal. This is even
clearer in an unambiguous example of the substitution/exchange sense such as /
bought the printer for $200: here it cannot be argued that the preposition/or denotes
a goal in any meaningful sense of the term.
The binary tensor does not fare any better in its application to the second
member of the purported two-stroke system. The notion of 'source' seems totally
inadequate to characterize uses of the preposition by such as those found in / walked
right by the bus stop or She was sitting by the door. This illustrates another important
problem with Hewson & Bubenik's application of the binary tensor to the prepositions
for and by: their diagram is based on just one use each of the two prepositions in
question. If this diagram is intended to depict a system in tongue, it must necessarily be
composed of potential rather than actual meanings and based on the observation of the
full range of meaning expressible by the forms. Potential meanings are the basis for
engendering all of the senses that a given form is capable of expressing in discourse
and as such they do not correspond to any one particular use. More importantly, a
hypothesis as to the nature of a potential meaning must be demonstrated to be capable
of engendering all of the known uses of a form. The depiction of the meanings offor and
by in the binary tensor system proposed by Hewson & Bubenik very clearly fails on this
count. For this reason, it will not be adopted here. Moreover, it will be demonstrated
that the meaning offor cannot be reduced to the notion of 'path leading to goal' even on
the potential level; instead, it involves a more complex idea which we will attempt to
characterize at the end of the thesis.
Afinalproblem with the binary tensor approach is that while/or can be opposed
to during in its temporal sense (cf. Gruntman, 2000) and to against in its attitudinal
sense, it is not obvious that there is one single preposition which stands in opposition
to for in its full range of usage. Binary tensors oppose unitary potential meanings of
two items per system in tongue, not particular actual senses of a number of different
items in discourse. The evidence suggests therefore that the most promising approach
to the preposition for is to start by looking at this little word in and for itself by means
of a detailed examination of a corpus of attested examples, and to base one's
hypotheses as to its potential meaning on the observation of a very broad range of uses.
This is the methodological perspective which is adopted in this study.
5. Lexical Monosemy
A monosemantic bias with respect to a word's meaning is not exclusive to the
theory of Psychomechanics. Ruhl (1989: 4) argues:
a researcher's initial efforts are directed toward determining a unitary
meaning for a lexical item, trying to attribute apparent variations in
meaning to other factors. If such efforts fail, then the researcher tries to
discover a means of relating the distinct meanings. If these efforts fail, then
there are several words. This approach initially assumes that lexical form
and meaning are fully congruent, and that claims of polysemy, homonymy,
and idiomaticity must be substantiated by detailed study, not merely
asserted as intuitive insights.
Among the researchers considering for from a monosemic point of view is Bresnan
(1979: 82), who writes "that there is a common meaning to for" which she refers to as
"intentional" or "motivational", terms which are meant to express "at once the
subjectivity and the directionality of for." She argues that for expresses subjective
reason or cause (i.e. the reason for attribution or judgment) as in He considers her a fool
for her generosity, where her generosity is the reason that he considers her a fool. In
addition, according to Bresnan, for also expresses purpose, use or goal. She also posits a
semantic relation tying these notions together (1979: 82):
The concepts of reason and purpose are semantically related,
both implying motivation, and both implying directionality,
whether from a source or toward a goal. However, the "direction"
is in a sense reversed:
40) for (x) —► Y X is the reason or subjective cause for Y.
He considers her a fool for her generosity.
41) for (x) <
Y X is the purpose or goal of Y.
This book is for your amusement.
Furthermore, she implies that "the choice of 'direction' may follow from the temporal
relations between X and Y" because in (41) the goal, purpose or use is future with
respect to Y, whereas in (40) the /or-complement may describe something
simultaneous with the main predicate and is non-future with respect to Y. Bresnan's
analysis, while interesting, is a prime example of the confusion between meaning and
message. While it is true in (40) that logically her generosity is the cause of her being
considered a fool, we will see later on this study that the linguistic meaning indicates
that this situation is construed rather as a sort of exchange scenario in which in
exchange for her generosity what she gets is his considering her a fool.
It is also significant that for combines with some verbs and not others. This of
itself could lead to certain generalizations about the meaning of this preposition. For
example, Bresnan (1979: 90) claims "...the class of verbs taking a/or-relativized object
prominently includes many so-called "intentional" verbs - verbs which do not imply
the existence of their objects or whose objects are in some sense unspecified or
indeterminate..." According to Bresnan these verbs include "need, want, search for;
those which disallow it include burn, break, trip over, and in general any verbs which
imply a concrete or physical relationship between subject and object." This view is
similar to that of De Smet (2007: 11) who writes that "many verbs taking for...toinfinitives express anticipation, volition, or goal-oriented activities."
observations are significant and need to be taken into consideration from the point of
view of which verbs, nouns and adjectives combine with for.
Bresnan's (1979: 91)
conclusion "that the for complementizer has a distinct semantic function which may
account for many of the peculiarities of its distribution, even in relative clauses" does
not however explore the question of what generates this function, the nature of the
lexical content brought to the sentence by the preposition for itself.
Tyler and Evans (2003: 2), writing in a cognitive grammar framework, consider
"senses associated with a single particle [which] constitute a semantic network
organized with respect to a primary sense." This idea of a 'primary sense' or 'protoscene' is described as:
A proto-scene is an idealized mental representation across the
recurring spatial scenes associated with a particular spatial
particle; hence it is an abstraction across many similar spatial scenes.
It combines idealized elements of real-world experience (objects in
the guise of TRs and LMs) and a conceptual relation (a conceptualization
of a particular configuration between the objects), (p. 52)
They consider that "other distinct senses may have become derived from the protoscene." This, at first glance, seems to parallel the notion being put forth in this thesis
with respect to a potential meaning, yet what remains to be determined is whether the
'proto-scene' is a prototypical sense or whether it is a schematic potential. According
to Tyler and Evans (2003: 52), "proto-scenes are instantiated in memory due to their
frequency and utility in human interaction with the world." Is this a reference to one
particular use as suggested by the use of the word 'frequency'? This would indeed
seem to be the case, considering that the authors go on to argue:
The largest number of senses in the semantic network offor relate to
the notion of purpose; as predictability and preponderance of senses
are two key criteria for determining the synchronic primary sense, the
proto-scene ... we have taken the functional element of purpose as a key
element of the proto-scene of for. (p. 149)
If prepositional polysemy can be described as a semantic network or continuum
related to a primary sense or proto-scene, then why is it the case with for that "not all
usages are contained within the semantic network"? (p. 8) If usage is based on
meaning, how could some usages not be derived from the semantic content of a word?
It is proposed here that a schematic potential meaning explains the entire network of
related senses, and that it is normal that it will not be possible to derive all the uses of a
word from one particular, or prototypical use, as this constitutes deriving effects from
other effects and not from the causes on which they depend for their existence. How
then to access the potential meaning, which is to a certain extent inaccessible, given
that it is outside of conscious awareness? If as Rauh (1991: 184) points out "the
inherent semantic properties of prepositions characterize the manner of the relation
expressed," then the first place to start would be dictionaries and grammars, which
give thorough descriptions of'the manner of the relation expressed.'
6. Prepositions: Function Words?
The position often taken by grammarians or dictionaries in their description of
the meaning of prepositions is to give detailed descriptions of the relation expressed by
the latter. Rather than consider 'inherent semantic properties', grammar books and
dictionaries describe the various types of relation expressed in discourse by a
preposition, which are then mistaken for the preposition's meaning. This has led Fries
(1940: 109), among many, to describe a preposition as a "function word", that is "a
word that has little or no meaning apart from the grammatical idea it expresses." For
example, Fries (1940: 109) states that prepositions "express primarily grammatical
ideas and relationships rather than full word meanings." In addition, Fries, argues with
respect to the 31 separate senses listed in the Oxford Dictionary for for:
... that perhaps the meanings displayed by the Oxford Dictionary are not
in each of these words in themselves but lie rather in the whole context in
which the words are used and depend upon the meanings of the words that
are brought into relationship by these function words, (p. 113)
This passage would seem to indicate that for itself is meaningless, that it contributes no
lexical notion to the sentence, which raises the question as to why the speaker would
use it in the first place if it conveyed no meaning. Under the hypothesis adopted here, a
sentence requires the semantic contribution of a preposition because of what the other
words lack in meaning.
Another grammarian supporting the widespread notion that prepositions lack
meaning and are 'function words' is Jackson (1980: 69), who claims that the specific
meaning of prepositions is "namely the meaning of the relation that it represents and
refers to." Furthermore, when it is attached to particular verbs, adjectives, or nouns
the role of a preposition is to link that verb, etc., with its object, this being a purely
syntactic function in which the preposition is "more or less meaningless, since it cannot
be replaced by any other preposition and thus enter into a meaningful contrast." Yet,
there are cases where for can be replaced by another preposition and would therefore
enter into a meaningful contrast, as indicated by: (a) This is the road for the trucks vs.
(b) This is the road £e the trucks. Here one gets the impression in (a) that the 'road' is
especially for trucks, perhaps a place for the trucks to park, or to use; whereas, in (b)
the 'road' is the route one must take to get to the location of the trucks. The difference
in expressive effect between these two examples must be attributed to the
prepositions, with for contributing the notion of goal-directed possession or purpose.
If, according to Jackson, for is 'more or less meaningless' then it would be logical to
expect no difference in the expressive effect; however, this is not the case indicating
that the 'inherent semantic properties' of for contribute to the overall expressive effect
of the sentence resulting in a difference between examples (a) and (b). Furthermore, of
special interest here in the two sentences is the difference between the prepositions/or
and to, which can, according to Tyler and Evans (2003: 145) "act as near synonyms,
while appearing to be quite distinct in other contexts."
Tyler and Evans (2003:146) use the examples of (a) He ran to the hills vs. (b) He
ran for the hills to illustrate the semantic difference between the two prepositions
... (...a) is more likely to be used in a context where reaching the hills is
being emphasized, that is, the hills as a primary physical goal or objective.
This might be the case, for instance, when reporting on a jogger's fitness
regimen. In contrast, the sentence in (...b) is more likely to be employed
when reaching the hills is a means to an end, rather than the end in itself.
For example, in the case of warfare, where hills might afford cover or shelter
from the enemy, then reaching the hills would serve the purpose of providing
Tyler and Evans (2003:147) further distinguish for from to by arguing that "to head for
the hills in order to avoid the enemy reflects a level of calculation and purposeful
planning that goes beyond simply designating the hills as the end point of one's daily
run" (as is the case with to), leading the authors to "hypothesize that intentionality is
an important aspect of the functional element associated with for but not with to." The
question that needs to be raised here is what is meant by 'functional element'? Is this a
reference to meaning or simply the functional role, separate from meaning, which for
could play in a sentence?
Quirk et al (1985: 697) also support the use of for as 'intended recipient' in
contrast to to which expresses 'actual recipient' as seen in sentences such as: / sold the
book to my friend. Why, however, if 'intentionality' is an important aspect of the
function or sense of for, is it necessary for verbs, or nouns, that already express
'intention' or 'volition' or 'goal-oriented activities'? In addition, Tyler and Evans (2003:
153) point out, "the preponderance of senses associated with for are primarily
concerned with motives, intentions and purposes." The other examples they use to
support this point of view include He arrived at 7.30 for dinner in which the arrival at
7.30 is motivated by a dinner engagement. In the 'Intended Recipient Sense' the
recipient motivates the particular action such that in Susan bought the gown for Carol
the action of buying is motivated by the purpose for which it is intended. As a result,
Tyler and Evans (2003: 154) claim/or "can denote a particular action...with a recipient
in mind...". Is it not the verb which denotes the action, and the noun which designates
the 'recipient", not the preposition? Another example used by the authors is She raised
money for charity in which they describe for as denoting a 'Benefactive Sense' where a
particular action directly benefits a particular entity, Here, according to the authors "for
denotes a relation between an action and a beneficiary" (p. 154).
7. Various Descriptions
The aforementioned authors have all made valid assertions about for, some of
which involve semantic notions connected to the preposition itself independently of its
syntactic relationship in the sentence and others that simply describe the relationship
expressed without attributing any lexical content to the preposition. The function of a
preposition is clear—that of establishing a relationship between a noun phrase and
another word or phrase in the sentence. What is not clear is the lexical content
contributed by the preposition itself, a notion or meaning that is independent of any
context and that is distinct from other prepositions. To describe this meaning Wege
(1991: 276) argues that "several different aspects have to be considered," among them
the "inherent and relational characteristics." Perhaps, then, the most logical place to
start in order to seek a single cohesive meaning for for would be in a dictionary or in
one of the many thorough grammars, especially that of Quirk et al. which give detailed
descriptions of the 'relational characteristics' offor. Table 1 is an attempt to synthesize
and list the numerous relational descriptions of for found in dictionaries and
grammars. The main uses and sub-uses along with their example sentences1 are all
borrowed from the authors or editors of selected grammar books and dictionaries. The
following is a list of the dictionaries and grammars used in preparing Table 1:
BROWN, G. (1882). Grammar of English Grammars. New York: William Wood &
CELCE-MURCIA, M.& D., LARSEN-FREEMAN (1999). The Grammar Book.
Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
COLLINS COBUILD (1997). English Grammar. London: HarperCollins.
COLLINS COBUILD (1991). English Guides 1: Prepositions. London: HarperCollins.
CURME, G.O. (1947). English Grammar. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
FRIES, CC. (1940). American English Grammar. New York : Appeton-Century-Crofts,
The example sentences, chosen by the authors or editors, do not always support the relational description.
HALL, D. (1986). Working with English Prepositions. Hong Kong: Thomas Nelson and
Sons Ltd.
JACKSON, H. (1991). Grammar and Meaning: A Semantic Approach to English
Grammar. London: Longman.
MURPHY, R. (1989). English Grammar in Use. Avon : Cambridge University Press.
OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (1989). Oxford : Clarendon Press. 2nd Edition.
POUTSMA, H. (1926). Grammar of Late Modern English. Groningen : P. Noordhoff.
QUIRK, R, S. GREENBAUM, G. LEECH and J. SVARTVIK (1985). A Comprehensive
Grammar of the English Language. London : Longman.
SAITO, H. (1932). Saito's Practical English Grammar. Tokyo: S.E.G. Press (ed.).
SWAN, M. (1995). Practical English Usage. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
THOMSON, AJ. and A.V. MARTINET (1963). A Practical English Grammar for
Foreign Students. London: Oxford University Press.
WEBSTER'S. 1969. Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language.
Springfield, MA: Merriam.
TABLE 1: Relational Descriptions of For
Main RelationalSub Relational-Use
1. Purpose
(a) Destination
Recipient, goal,
(b) Intended for
(c) Fit/or
(d) Dative relation
(e) On behalf of, in favour
of (as opposed to against)
(f) Object of search, or
inquiry, or affection.
(g) Sense-Subject of
(h) Something representing
something, to mark a
symbol or sign of
2. Exchange
(a) Price
(b) Instead of, a substitute
3. Cause or Reason
(a) "For want of
4. Duration
5. Distance
6. Reference
(a) Referring to
7. Exception
(b) In comparison
(a) Excepting
(b) Negative condition
but for (owing to)
8. "In spite of
He has left/or Toronto.
Is this book for me?
A subject for speculation.
This is no place for me.
He bought the book/or me.
Whom do you vote for?
To vote for or against.
What are you looking for?
I have a regard for him.
That is for you to guess.
Green is for go; red is for stop.
The plus sign is for adding.
I bought it for ten dollars.
This box will serve for a table.
A pronoun is used/or a name.
She chose him/or her husband.
I took his story for truth.
I could not buy it for want of money.
I hid the money, for fear of what my
parents would say.
He said it for fun, but they took him
I was pressed for money.
I have not seen him for a long time.
I walked with him/or some
As for the burglar, he escaped
through the attic window.
For his livelihood, he has nothing
but his salary to depend on.
You are tall for your age.
That is good enough for him.
It is good for him.
We had a very pleasant time, except
for the weather.
But/or Gordon, we should have lost
the match (ie 'If it hadn't been for
Gordon ...', 'If Gordon hadn't played
as he did ...', etc).
For all his learning, he is a fool
What stands out first of all in the above chart is that numerous uses of for relate
to purpose. What however is the link between purpose and the other uses? More
specifically, how is it that the notion of purpose is totally absent from the use of for
expressing temporal duration or spatial extension? Other questions include why for
occurs with certain verbs and adjectives and to what extent the matrix verb governs
the use of for. The second chart below lists the more common verbs, adjectives and
nouns that occur with for.
TABLE 2: For Collocations
1. Purpose
NOUN +for
1(a) Destination
1(b) Intended
1(c) fit for
a talent
a taste
VERB + for
hold on
set out
(= to direct one's
course towards)
Past Participles:
set apart
fit for good
good for nothing
TABLE 2: Continued
1(d) Dative
1(e) on behalf
of, in favour of
(f) Object of
search, or
1(g) Object of
need for him to work
room for the students
fortunate (It was
fortunate for me that
you came.)
...is for you to decide
...long/or that time to
... waited for an
opportunity to occur
necessary for you to
be better
TABLE 2: Continued
2. Exchange
3. Cause or
make up
for want of:
To be cramped for
To be pressed for
These two tables demonstrate the challenge of determining a single lexical
content that could be applied to all of the various roles and functions of for. Another
dimension of the problem is the relation between for and other prepositions that also
indicate some of the same relational characteristics as for: for example, to and at can
also indicate recipient, goal or target, with for expressing 'intended recipient' and to
expressing 'actual recipient', according to Quirk et al. Certain types of verbs taking/or
express anticipation, volition, goal-oriented activities; what generalizations can be
made with respect to verbs occurring with for and not to? While to can be used with
verbs denoting generalized motion, according to Tyler and Evans (2003:147) there is a
subset of motion verbs with which to is ungrammatical whereas for is acceptable:
a. *Mary set out/started/left to the store.
a(i) Mary set out/started/left for the store.
b They departed to France.
b(i). They departed for France.
c They set sail/out to Nova Scotia.
c(i) They set sail/out for Nova Scotia.
Tyler and Evan's comment on to being 'ungrammatical' with a certain subset of motion
verbs is interesting and perhaps useful, but not entirely accurate: a search of the
British National Corpus reveals the following authentic examples for departed to and set
sail to:
1. HP6 532 We cooked our dinner and departed to the bar on the site for a
last night celebration
2. H8Y 2501 Some names had been crossed off, as teachers had died at their
posts, or departed to more luxuriant scholastic pastures.
3. K1B 458 In Central South we're landlocked but boating still plays an
important part in our leisure and local economy... so let's set sail to
London to see the show
Nonetheless, the above examples are not frequent, as for is certainly the more common
preposition to occur with the aforementioned subset of motion verbs.
Comparison between for and to may be significant because these two
prepositions show a certain semantic overlap. Duffley (1992:17) depicts the potential
meaning of to as involving "the notion of a movement from a before-position to an
after-position in time" with the before-position represented by the main verb's event
and the after-position represented by the infinitive's event, as illustrated by the
following diagram:
after- position
If the potential meaning of for was postulated to also involve a movement leading
towards an end point, then the 'before-position' and the 'after-position' or 'end-point'
with for would need to be determined.
Other comparisons between for and its absence and between for and other
prepositions can be used to bring out the semantic contribution of this preposition.
Some of these are listed below:
1. a) Anya searched the paper anxiously. = to examine by inspection
b) She searched for the paper. = to try to find
2. a) The rescue workers felt a hand. = to notice
b) The rescue workers felt for a hand. = to try to find by groping
3. a) We are looking for Joe. = to search for
b) We are looking to Joe. = to expect
4. a) He looked the ideal candidate. = to seem
b) He looked for the ideal candidate. = to search for
5. a) He asked (inquired) for a man named S. = wanted to see the man
b) He asked (inquired) after a man named S. = wanted information
6. a) He could not speak forfear. = for fear is the cause
b) He actedfromfear. = from fear is the motive
7. a) She was good for me. = of benefit, a result
b) She was good to me. = the things she did
8. a) The coach asked Martin to captain the team. = direct request
b) The coach asked for Martin to captain the team. = indirect request
The examples above indicate the difference for makes in the expressive effect of the
sentence, suggesting once again that for's semantic contribution is significant.
Certainly, the use of for gives these sentences an indication as to the intention of the
subject, suggesting that the subject's action is more clearly defined.
The question put forth at the beginning of this chapter regarding the meaning of
for still remains unanswered. Perhaps this meaning can be narrowed down thanks to a
few of the points indicated by some of the other authors. For example:
the largest number of the uses of for relate to purpose, motives and intention
intentionality is associated with for but not with to, although this point needs to
be examined more closely
• for is used to denote 'intended recipient' in contrast to to which expresses
'actual recipient"
• • with intentional verbs, the existence of their objects is not implied, or the
objects are unspecified or indeterminate
certain types of verbs taking/or express anticipation, volition, goal-oriented
activities, as is the case with to
a certain semantic overlap between to and for, with both prepositions indicating
a movement towards an endpoint, with greater variability associated with for
It remains however to analyze a corpus of examples, applying the points above,
to see if a corpus supports these hypotheses and to determine if other conclusions can
be drawn that could lead to a more comprehensive characterization of the meaning of
First, however, an overview of the historical development of for from Indo-
European will be given in order to see whether any lessons can be learned from the
diachronic evolution of for as to how its variegated range of senses might be related to
one another.
Chapter 2
For: A Diachronic Perspective
1. Preliminaries
Much has been written about for from a diachronic perspective (c/ Mustanoja,
1960; Mitchell, 1987; Sprengel, 1977) and while it is not the purpose of this chapter to
contribute further detail or to raise questions about the historical development of for, it
is necessary to observe how for developed from a limited use, possibly involving one
single sense, into its multiple senses, and whether or not this first sense can contribute
to a more unified explanation of modern-day usage of for. First of all, there is little
argument that etymologically, for is assumed to be the reduction of Germanic *fora
'before' (of place and time); however what remains open for discussion is the
relationship of the preposition for to the other observed uses of either for or fore as a
preverb, particle, prefix, and adverb. In other words, is there a link between the
meaning of the English prefix for- and the preposition for? Is it possible that for is a
derivation of the prefix for- or fore- and, if this is the case, can the meaning of these
prefixes be linked to modern-day for?
2. Problems of Terminology
Unfortunately there does seem to be some confusion as to whether or not these
categories of preverb, particle, prefix and adverb, can be sufficiently distinguished from
each other. Mitchell (1980: 256) argues that it is a problem of terminology with
respect to the use of 'preposition', 'adverb', 'prepositional adverb', 'postpositions',
'separable prefixes', or 'inseparable prefixes' and that "without the clue of intonation"
there can be no resolution to this problem because "...we have reached the boundaries
where the kingdoms of the preposition, the adverb, the separable prefix, and the
inseparable prefix, meet and melt into one another."
This observation is also
supported by Sprengel (1977: 5), who notes that "the use of the term 'prefix' in older
grammars is by no means unified" and then goes on to indicate that:
OE fore-, like Old High German fora-, furi-, falls under the heading of
composition with 'particles', a term that is used to denote uninflected
elements of speech which may function as prepositions or adverbs
....Brugmann in his GrundriB does not mention the expression 'prf
but treats elements like OE fore- and their Indo-European roots within
the section on prepositions.
Today 'prefixes' are defined by two criteria, namely front position and
dependence. Yet, it is not entirely clear from grammars and descriptions of Old English
that these two criteria were incorporated into the term 'prefix'. Thus, what is now
considered a strict view of a prefix could not be applied to observed usage in Old
English, as indicated by the following passage from Sprengel (1977: 10) in which he
writes that prefixes "are not restricted to premodifying bound morphemes, but
comprise also elements which may be used as prepositions, adverbs and adjectives but
in composites are 'felt' to be near to prefixes in the narrow sense."
To determine the extent to which the prefixes/or- and/ore- can be distinguished
from the prepositions for and fore is not the purpose of this analysis, nor whether they
function as adverbs or prepositions. This would require an exhaustive survey of Old
English in addition to considering Germanic and the other branches of the Indo-
European group of languages. Mitchell (1987: 487) in his analysis of Old English syntax
even remarks that "the difficulty is to determine where a syntax ends and a dictionary
begins." Nonetheless, what will be assumed is that the forms for and fore represent the
same word regardless of how they are described according to function, i.e. as
prepositions, adverbial particles, etc. Even though analysis has revealed some
differences in usage between the two forms, such as fore being less frequent than for in
Alfredian texts, according to Mitchell (1987: 501) fore "does not differ from it (for) in
meaning or use." However, Mitchell (1987: 501) does emphasize that there was "... a
general preference for for immediately before its case and the use of fore in other
positions." Whether or not this is significant with respect to determining the meaning
of for has yet to be determined.
It would be prudent, therefore, when observing the meaning of for from a
diachronic perspective to consider its development with respect to fore and also to that
of the prefixes for- and fore- because of the aforementioned terminological problems.
To categorically determine whether for- and fore- are connected or unconnected to the
words for and fore is not the purpose of our study; on the other hand to dismiss the
connection completely could be an error in judgment and could exclude data that might
be both pertinent and revealing.
. '
3. For, Fore, and Pro
Mustanoja (1960: 377-378) describes the meanings of the prepositions for and
fore in Germanic as follows:
Gmc *fora, which seems to be the source of English/ore (OE fore, OFis. fara,
OS and OUG fora, and Goth, faurd). ...The original local meaning 'before'
provides a starting-point not only for the temporal use, but for many
other derived functions, the development of which may be imagined to
have taken place along the following lines: 'standing before a person' >
'standing in front of a person as his champion, representative, or substitute' >
'standing or acting for the benefit or on behalf or instead of a person.' In
OE, for and/ore seem to be used indiscriminately for all these purposes...
in ME,...the use offore mainly in the sense 'before' and offor in the other
Furthermore, he indicates that "the English pair for and fore is paralled by ... L pro and
prae, and German vor.fur, and ver- (prefix), all representing the same root." This root,
is in all likelihood in Indo-European *per-, which Sprengel (1977: 26) describes in
respect to the prefixes/ore- and for- in the following passage:
...fore-, like pre-, ultimately goes back to the Indo-European substantival
root *per- meaning "the going beyond (something)". This root, which is ...
the common ancestor of several adverbial and prepositional forms in the
Indo-European family with very heterogeneous meanings....The etymological
equivalents of fore- in the other Germanic languages are Old Frisian fara
'before', Gothic/aura 'before', Old Norse fyrr 'formerly' (adverb) and fyrir
'before' (preposition), Old Saxon fora 'before', and Old High German fora,
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1981: 1533f) describes the
I.E. root in the following way:
per 1. Base of prepositions and preverbs with the basic meaning of'forward',
'through' and a wide range of extended senses such as 'in front of, 'before',
'early', 'first', 'chief, 'toward', 'against', 'near', 'at', 'around'.
With respect to pro, one of the first grammarians of English, Robert Lowth (1794: 92)
writes "for, in its primary sense, is pro, loco alterius, in the stead, or place, of another."
The tree diagram in Figure l 1 below indicates these possible developments of for from
Nonetheless, what remains of interest is that for used to mean
something like before, evoking a position in front of a stationary or moving point of
Figure 1 provides only a cursory view of the development of the I.E. form *perand is not meant to support either a position that for- and fore- are orthographical
variations or the fact that these prefixes are two different elements of word formation.
The tree diagram is based on a similar diagram in Robinson (1992: 12) with additional
information from Brorstrom, 1971; Fisher, 1988; Jespersen, 1965; Lass, 1994; Mitchell,
1987; Mustanoja, 1960; Sprengel, 1977; Whitelock, 1988; Yamakawa, 1980.
To be able to provide a definitive argument regarding the forms for- and fore- is beyond
the scope of this study. However, the senses these forms evoke, especially that of
'before', and the close historical link of this sense to the preposition for must be
considered with respect to determining the role of for in both tongue and discourse.
Figure 1: Development path offor from Indo-European
PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN *pr- *per- meaning "the going beyond (something)"
pâros 'before'
(Old Norse, fyrir 'before')
(Latin, pro and p r a e )
'before, for, on behalf
of, instead of
(Gothic, faura- 'before')
for, fore
fara 'before'
'before' (prep, and adv.)
'for, on account of (causative)
'in front of
'in the presence of
'on behalf of
'in comparison with'
fora,furi 'before'
(Old Saxon,-/ora )
vor(e) 'rest at'
'before, in the presence of sight of (local sense) fiir(e) 'motion'
'prior to' (temporal sense)
fur mich bin
'in preference to' (comparative sense)
'onwards, forwards, the
literal meaning 'before me,
implying motion' (Lockwood, 1968)
4. Prepositional Development: Configurational Syntax
Another aspect to be considered is the development of the category
'preposition' as an unattached form indicating syntactic relations in modern languages
from I.E. where those relations were indicated by case forms. Hewson (1997: 123)
describes the state of I.E. as a typological stage where "all syntactic relations are
marked in the morphology which give rise to ...an extremely complex morphology of
nominal and verbal paradigms..." He then describes a shift over a period of some three
millennia to languages of a configurational type where "word order is not free, and the
complex morphological paradigms may sometimes be reduced to a single grammatical
form." He goes on to describe prepositions as evolving as a syntactic element with the
development of a configurational syntax such that:
The preposition emerges out of an adverbial particle that frequently
functions as a preverb, modifying sometimes the verb ... and sometimes
other adverbial elements that are satellites of the verb. (p. 127)
Concerning the ancestor of for in Old English, Fraser (1975: 22) describes the
preverb "for-" as being "quite simply the sign of a movement." Fraser sees the abstract
notion of movement in the prefix for- at work in its role as an intensifier of the verb
such that "...for- added to baernan conveys the idea of "consumed by fire", (p. 23) As
well, Burnley (1992: 24) writes that "the for- prefix, which is etymologically related to
Latin per-, carries an implication of intensification and often of ruination." And this is
further echoed by Mitchell & Robinson (1992: 58) who use the examples for-bsernan
'burn up, consume', for-lorennes (fern.) 'perdition', and for-heard 'very hard' to illustrate
the intensificatory role of the preverb/or-.
As the preposition emerged through many years of language change, there came
a reduction in the number of cases. Lass (1994: 228) observes that "PIE probably had
an eight-case system, with distinct nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, ablative,
locative, instrumental and accusative" to one in MnE, namely the genitive case.
Otherwise, the form of the noun carries no indication of its function in the sentence.
According to Hewson (1997:128), cases become redundant "if sufficient information is
carried by the preposition." This information would have to include some of the major
relational categories expressed by a case system. Lass (1994: 228) describes these as:
Grammatical: subject, direct object, possessor, experiencer, receiver.
Other: location-in/-on/-at, movement-to/-from, movement-across,
movement-into/-out of, comitative (with-X), instrument, cause, partitive.
Furthermore, Lass (1994) suggests that cases carry more than just syntactic functions,
that there are what he calls "motivated secondary functions" which have been derived
from the 'core' or primary function. For example, with respect to the accusative case:
We can for instance reconstruct the IE accusative as primarily the
direct object case; but it has a set of extended meanings, having to do
with 'attainment of a goal' (a natural move from coding the result of
the action of a transitive verb). From this there develop senses coding
what one has to do to achieve a goal, e.g. the traversal of space; and from
this traversal of time. Thus the accusative marks not only movement (as a
derivative of'goal'), but 'extent' in space or time as well. (p. 228)
Thus, Lass (1994: 232) argues that " ... case-government by prepositions is not a
purely syntactic matter (e.g. a rule 'Prep X governs case Y'): the precise sense of the
preposition is also involved." Of concern here, for the purposes of this thesis, is the
'precise sense'. In OE (more precisely, the West Saxon language of about 900-1100
A.D.) the form fore occurred as an adverb and a preposition; the adverb had the
meaning 'beforehand', while the preposition, which governed the dative and accusative
cases, meant 'before' in the locative and temporal sense. Mitchell (1987: 496) also
refers to the accusative as denoting motion towards, and the dative as denoting rest in
a place. Here, again, the notion of movement is brought out Fischer (1988: 72) argues
that "in ME the preposition for starts to take over the old benefactive dative functions
used in OE."
5. Recorded Dictionary Meanings: Old English to Modern English
It would be a mistake to reduce for's meaning to that of its original use in IndoEuropean, this use being mostly obscure or lost, or blended or melded into that of its
many current day uses. Crystal (1988: 42) writes: "Etymology is never a true guide to
To believe the opposite is to engage in the 'etymological fallacy'."
Prepositions as a part of speech provide a function in a sentence, namely that of
relating other parts of speech to one another. What remains to be determined is how
the observed sentence functions combined with for's meaning reflect the preconscious
mental programs or operations that condition for's use in discourse. This will be the
purpose of subsequent chapters.
For now, however, what is pertinent, is the recorded dictionary meanings of for
from Old English through to Modern English and the extent to which the senses of for
developed. This can be best observed in the O.E.D., which identifies 31 main senses of
for as a preposition along with extensions of these main senses numbering 58, and 5
main senses of for as a conjunction. While some of these senses and their extensions
are now obsolete, such as the earliest sense, 'before', the vast majority remain in use. In
addition to listing the senses of for, the O.E.D. has organized these senses according to
how they developed along eleven different or parallel branches. The following table is
an attempt to observe these senses of the prepositional use according to the O.E.D.
(1989: 23-26) and to explore whether any common ground may exist among them.
While some specific examples of the uses of for have been included in the table below,
the reader is referred to the OED (1989) for those not included, especially those
examples dating from Old English and early Middle English.
A. For: preposition
TABLE 3: The Senses <■if for according to the OED (1989)
I. Before (obsolete)
1. Of place
a. In front of
b. In the presence of or
sight of
c. In asseveration
d. Into the presence of
2. Of time, long ago
II. Of representation,
substitution or
3. In preference to,
4.a. Representing, as
representative of
clOOO to 1504
b.ln elliptical
(once for all)
5. In place of, instead
6. Of payment,
purchase, sale
III. In defense or
support of; in favour
7. a. In defence or
support of; in favour
of, on the side of.
Opposed to against.
b. In exclamations,
indicating the person,
etc. favoured
c. In honour of
d./ors and againsts:
'pros and cons'
IV. Of purpose or
a. Introducing the thing
bought or sold, etc.: As
the price of, or the
penalty on account of
b. In requital of
8.a. With a view to;
with the object or
purpose of: as
preparatory to
b. For the purpose of
being or becoming
c. Conducive to
d. for sale: to be sold
9. a. In order to
obtain, also after
verbs like ask, search,
etc., or verbs implying
motion, e.g. to go, send
10. Indicating the
object to which the
activity of the
faculties of feelings is
directed, e.g. care for
b. Of an amount staked
or an object risked, e.g.
to play for
c. For (one's) life: in
order to save one's life
d. to run, etc. for it
13. Of appointment,
appropriation, or
l l . a . Before an inf.,
usually for to,
indicating the object
of an action
12. Indicating
b./or to often occurs
merely for to before an
a. In order to arrive at;
with the purpose of
going to (a place).
b. transf of time
c. Introducing the
intended recipient, of
the thing to which
something is intended
to belong, or in
connexion with which it
is to be used.
a. Following a vb., adj.,
or noun of quality, .
denoting appointment,
appropriation, fitness,
14. Of result or effect;
used after words like
cause, ground, motive,
reason, etc.
V. Of advantage or
b. After adjs. or ad vs.
qualified by too, enough,
etc., the prep, is often
equivalent to the
infinitive combinations,
'to admit of, 'to require,
call for', or the like.
c. Following a sb., or
predicatively: =
Appointed or adapted
for, proper or suitable
for. (there is) nothing
for it but
d. (it is) for (a person) to
do something: becoming
or permissible to, the
duty or concern of
e. to be for it (orig. Mil.
Slang): to have one's
name on the crime
sheet, i.e. to be marked
down for punishment
or trouble; hence, to in
for trouble
15. Designating an
amount to be received
or paid
16. a. With the
purpose or result of
benefiting or
gratifying' as a service
b. ironically
17. As affecting the
interests or condition
of (a person or thing),
whether for good or
evil. Chiefly after adjs.,
sbs. of quality, or
18. a. Governing a sb.
or pers. pron.
followed by an
infinitive, forming a
equivalent to 'that he,
etc. may, might,
should', etc.
VI. Of attributed or
assumed character; =
19. a. In the character
of, in the light of, as
equivalent to; esp. to
introduce the
complement after
verbs of incomplete
predication, e.g. to
have, hold, etc.
...where as or as being
may generally be
substituted, to beg (a
person) for a fool
b. in exclamatory use
b. So with an adjective,
as in to take for granted,
to leave for dead, etc. for
c. what is he, etc. for (a
man, etc.): what is (he)
considered as (a man),
i.e. what sort of a (man,
etc.) is he?
d. (/, etc.) for one: as
one, as a unit in an
aggregate, for one thing:
used parenthetically
when one out of several
reasons, instances, etc.,
is mentioned.
e.for the first, second,
etc. time: as a first,
second, etc., instance.
f. for good (and all)
g. With an adjective, in
pleonastic use, as for
free, for no charge,
without payment; for
VII. Of the cause or
20.a. By reason of,
under the influence of
(a feeling or
subjective condition).
21. Because of, on
account of:
22. Of an efficient or
operative cause: in
consequence of, by
reason of, as the effect
of. (Now chiefly after
otherwise usu.
replaced by from, of,
through.) Also in for
want of.
23. Of a preventive
cause or obstacle.
b. for fear of, that, etc.
a. a person or persons
b. a thing
c. On account of one's
regard for. So in for the
sake of
d. In adjurations
e. for because (obsolete)
a. In spite of.
notwithstanding. Rare
exc. in for all, any, with
a sb.; also absoi. for all
that, etc.
b. in conjunctional
phrases: for all that, for
all = nothwithstanding
(that), although.
c. Indicating the
presence or operation
of an obstacle or
d. As a precaution
against, or simply,
against: (to beware) of;
(to hinder, keep,
prevent) from.
correspondence or
IX. Of reference
X. Of duration and
24. Prefixed to the
designation of a
number or quantity to
which another is
stated to correspond
in some different
25. Preceded and
followed by the same
sb. (without article or
defining word), in
idiomatic expressions
indicating equality in
number or quantity
between objects
compared or
contrasted; word for
26. a. As regards, with
regard or respect to,
concerning. Also in
idiomatic expressions:
for my, his, etc. part;
for the rest
b. So far as concerns (a
person or thing). Used
with a limiting or
restrictive force.
c. with words
signifying privation or
d. for all the world:
used to emphasize
assertions of likeness.
27. In proportion to,
considering the
nature or capacity of;
considering what he,
she, or it is, or that he,
etc. is so and so.
28. a. Marking actual
duration. During,
throughout. Phr. for
long, for a or the time.
b. Marking intended
duration, e.g. for life
19.for once, for the
30. Marking an
amount of extension,
esp. in space, lineal or
superficial: Over, over
the space of, to the
extent of, through.
XI. 31. Misused for
fro, FROM, (obsolete)
B. For: conjunction
The OED holds that "the conjunctional use offor... may be explained either as an
extension of the functions of the prep, to govern a noun-sentence, or as an ellipsis."
TABLE 4: Conjunction for
1. (obsolete) Introducing the cause of a fact, the statement of
which precedes or follows
2. a. Introducing the ground or reason for something
previously said: Seeing that, since
This oil or resinous-like body contains phosphorus; for.. we find
phosphoric acid in the residue.
b. Introducing a detailed proof.
For, let there be three bodies at H, 0, and D: if (etc.).
3. Whether in an object sentence, (obsolete, rare)
4. In order that, (obsolete)
5. for and:.= 'and moreover', (obsolete)
The OED has divided the 31 main senses into 11 developmental branches.
These branches indicate how the for-preposition developed along several different and
parallel branches. Thus, these 11 branches can be considered as descriptions of the
earliest observed senses. What needs to be determined is whether or not there is a link
between all of these branches. Already by 1000 for appeared to be highly polysemous:
of the 11 developmental branches, 8 have attested examples dating from around 1000,
and of the main senses, 11 out of 31 date from the same time period. The main senses,
of which the first 3 are obsolete, observed from this period are as follows:
1. Of place
2. Of time, long ago
3. In preference to, above
4. Representing, as representative of
5. In place of, instead of
6. Of payment, purchase, sale
7. In defence or support of; in favour of, on the side of. Opposed to against.
8. With a view to; with the object or purpose of: as preparatory to
9. With the purpose or result of benefiting or gratifying' as a service to
10. In the character of, in the light of, as equivalent to; esp. to introduce the
complement after verbs of incomplete predication, e.g. to have, hold, etc.
...where as or as being may generally be substituted, to beg (a person) for a
11. Because of, on account of
6. Conclusion
While the preceding tables of the senses and development of for according to
the OED are of interest with respect to the diachronic development offor, this table will
also serve as a template for the categorization of the senses of for as observed in
Modem English in the various corpora. After the categorization of /or-examples from
the various corpora has been completed, the notion brought out by Fraser (1975) and
Mitchell (1987) that for represents a forward movement will be applied. It is this
particular notion of movement that will be explored and developed with respect to
determining a unique potential meaning for for.
Chapter 3
Complementizer or Preposition?
1. Preliminaries
The for + Subject + infinitive combination, or for...to construction, has been the
focus of much attention among linguists resulting in a plethora of articles and books
with those by Erdmann (1997), Rudanko (1996), Fischer (1988), Bresnan (1979),
Rosenbaum (1967) and Jespersen (1965) being the most notable. Yet, despite all this
attention it is not at all clear whether this use of for is that of a preposition or an
introductory syntactic element of a complement (complementizer).
grammarians (c/Brame, 1980; Battistella, 1984) argue that the for in We hope for him
to win is the same preposition as found in We hope for rain, while others claim it is a
complementizer (c/Hantson, 1979). Rudanko (1988: 434) argues that there are two
types of for, namely a "prepositional for and the complementizing for," and that the
latter "marks the NP that follows as the subject of a complement clause." Perhaps the
best indicator of the assorted points of view on this subject are the terms which are
used to describe for in this construction such as: conjunction-like particle, unorganic
preposition, inorganic preposition, clause-particle, complementizer, introductory
element, clause-initiating element, subordinator, connector, empty clause linker, signal,
etc. This construction is analyzed as a 'nexus' by Jespersen (1965: 5), by which he
means "a combination implying predication and as a rule containing a subject and
either a verb or a predicative or both," with for "being reduced to an empty particle, a
grammatical sign of the subject." Is for in this construction really a grammatical sign
functioning as a meaningless complementizer? To what extent are the arguments for
this interpretation valid? Is it possible that another interpretation can be supported,
namely that this for is the preposition for with the infinitive clause as its complement?
This chapter will argue that the for of the for...to construction is indeed a preposition
and not a complementizer. However, we must first address the question of what is
meant by the term 'complementizer' and how its function compares to that of
2. The For- To Complementizer Explained
The term 'complementizer' was first used by Rosenbaum (1967: 24) to
represent certain'markers'as:
...one of the properties of predicate complements that distinguishes
them from other types of complements ... taking the form of single
and paired morphemes. Such markers, including the morphemes
that, for, to, POSS, ing and others, will be referred to as complementizing
morphemes or simply complementizers.
Furthermore, Rosenbaum advanced the notion that for "co-occurs only with the
complementizer to" and that "it may thus prove convenient to speak of the "for-to"
complementizer." (p 24). Crystal (1985: 60) provides another description of what a
complementizer is according to Generative Grammar, defining it as a term "used to
refer to CONJUNCTIONS which mark an EMBEDDED sentence of a complement type,
e.g. that in / said that he's coming." Another description, somewhat similar to those
above, is offered by Celce-Murcia et al (1999: 631) who define complementizers as a
"signal of a complement clause," using the example Scientists claim that the globe is
getting warmer where that is functioning as a complementizer of the clause the globe is
getting warmer. However, it is possible to remove the supposed complementizer that
from a sentence such that Scientists claim the globe is getting warmer without changing
the function of the clause, namely that of direct object of the verb claim.
complementizers can be optional, however this raises the question as to why a 'signal'
should be necessary to indicate a complement clause if this 'signal' can be left out of the
In this case, the matrix verb is transitive, a category which according to Crystal
(1985: 316) refers to "the VERB'S relationship to DEPENDENT elements of structure."
In other words, claim requires a direct object, and the complement clause signalled by
that is functioning as a direct object. In fact, strictly speaking the complement clause
introduced by the complementizer is a direct object for many analysts, a direct object
being a kind of complement. This would be the position taken by Celce-Murcia because
what the scientists claim, that the globe is getting warmer is "noun-like in nature and ...
embedded into larger, independent clauses, forming an integral part of them—in these
cases, as direct objects." (Celce-Murcia 630). The criteria used by Celce-Murcia to
define 'noun-like in nature' is that the clause functions as a direct object, is capable of
appearing as a subject in a passive sentence and "answer[s] to the typical noun-like
question of what?" (p. 630).
The use of the term 'complement' in generative syntax corresponds in fact to a
very loose sense: Quirk et al (1985: 55) point out that "some writers make use of a very
broad sense of 'complement', subsuming complements, objects, and obligatory
adverbials in the present grammar." Crystal (1985: 60) explicates this definition of
complement as follows:
A term used in the analysis of GRAMMATICAL FUNCTION, to refer to a
associated with 'completing' the action specified by the VERB. In its
broadest sense, complement therefore is a very general notion, subsuming
all obligatory features of the PREDICATE other than the verb, e.g. OBJECTS
(e.g. He kicked the ball) and ADVERBIALS (e.g. He was in the garden). In
some approaches, the complement is given a more restricted definition, e.g.
to refer only to the 'completing' function structures following the verb to be
(or similar verbs)—in such an analysis, He kicked the doctor would be
SUBJECT—Verb—Object, whereas He is a doctor would be Subject—Verb—
Complement. A further distinction is sometimes made between complements
of the subject and those of the object... However, the domain of
complementation remains an unclear area in linguistic analysis, and
there are several unresolved issues.
An unfortunate consequence of this definition is to make 'complement' and
'complementizer' terms which have no connection to any meaning content. An
opposition is thus created between for as a preposition conveying a meaning and for as
a complementizer with a purely syntactic function. Thus Jarad (2000: 278) argues that
in Modern English "the sequence [for DP1 to VP] can have two interpretations: one
where the [for DP] is part of the matrix predicate, ...and another type where the whole
string [for DP to VP] is one constituent with the DP construed as the subject of the
infinitival verb." In the former sequence for functions as preposition and in the latter as
a complementizer.
Yet Jarad's interpretation is not unanimously accepted. The question of
prepositional vs. complementizer for has also been examined by Rosenbaum (1967),
Bresnan (1972), Chomsky & Lasnik (1977), Brame (1980) and Battistella (1984). With
respect to We hope for John to win the race, Chomsky & Lasnik (1977) propose two
lexical items, namely hope and hope for, with the latter selecting/or-complements and
the former t/iat-clauses. This seems completely unjustified from the point of view of
Guillaumian semantics based on words as independent and self-contained meaningcarrying units such that hope means the same thing in I'm hoping that it will rain and
I'm hoping for rain. However, according to (Brame, 1980: 247) "the assumption that
hope for selects a/or-complement can be challenged" because of the relevance of using
DP refers to determiner phrase in place of the more conventional NP noun phrase.
pseudocleft data to support the complementizing function of for, in addition to the
problems of accepting the rule deleting for in COMP. Furthermore, he shows the
problem of the loss of generalization with the "rule of free deletion in COMP".
According to Battistella (1984: 174), this rule led Chomsky and Lasnik to further "ad
hoc theoretical elaboration" resulting in more rules or 'devices' such as "a double for
filter, a rule deleting for before to, and a special principle of structure adjacency which
prevents the/or deletion rule from applying when a wh trace separates for and to."
Perhaps the simplest assumption, as Brame (1980: 258) suggests, is to eliminate
the rule of free deletion in COMP "in favor of a lexically based solution," arguing instead
that none of the aforementioned 'rules' or 'devices' are necessary "if we simply treat
hope in the lexically obvious way." He goes on to add in his conclusion that "the
complementizer for is in fact a lexical item and is far from the semantically empty,
syntactically trivial particle traditionally inserted by transformationalists and now
deleted by trace theorists." Furthermore, a natural account of the data emerges,
according to Brame (1980: 258) "when for is taken to be a lexical item in its own right
with its own lexical specification." Unfortunately, he does not give any indication as to
what he means by 'lexical specification', which is the whole object of this analysis.
However, Jarad (2000: 281) maintains the position that "there must exist a rule of
preposition deletion" because "when verbs like hope, wait, arrange, long, call, plan etc.,
select nominal arguments, there has to be a preposition to Case-mark those arguments
because the verbs themselves lack the ability to assign Case," although the selection of
the preposition is claimed to depend on the verb. Yet, Brame (1980: 252) argues in the
case of *Mary hopes a miracle that "hope does not select NP objects." Rather for, "being
a preposition ... permits NP, as...in...Mary hopes for a miracle." Indeed, Brame (252)
adds " ... that the following examples are parallel with respect to grammaticality vs.
deviance. ...What we hoped for was rain...What we hoped for was for John to win...*What
we hoped was rain....*Whatwe hoped was for John to win."
Adding to this confusing state of affairs is Quirk et al's comment (1985: 1193) that
the.noun phrase his wife in Jack prefers for his wife to drive the truck is the subject of the
infinitive clause, rather than the object of the main clause, because it is preceded by for.
Yet, in what seems like a contradiction they also claim that for has a "different status" in
the example They arranged for Mary to come at once, because in this case the
construction is that of a prepositional verb arrange for with the infinitive clause acting
as prepositional object. Why for would have one status in one sentence and another
status in another seemingly similar sentence is due to an analysis based on
distributional classes2. This analysis has led to the opposition between complementizer
and preposition, complement and direct object, and to the formulation of rules that are
contradicted by authentic data which require subsequent ad hoc adjustments.
Furthermore, if for as a complementizer introduces a subject + infinitive clause, one
would expect all such clauses to be introduced by for. Authentic data, or concrete
observations of linguistic facts demonstrate that for does not introduce all subject +
infinitive clauses. Here is a subject + infinitive structure with no for from the BNC:
1. She thought, I'll have him to do the building but not the rest of it. (BNC:
KST 1987
All of the aforementioned problems derive from a view of a language as a set of
sentences. Taking the sentence to be the most basic structural unit leads to an analysis
of utterances in terms of structural/syntactic possibilities rather than word-meaning
2.1 Diachronic for NP to V Construction
Historically, the use of for as a 'complementizer' is not a new syntactic role: some
of the first recorded instances of this construction date back to the Middle English
period. This use of for therefore developed diachronically from the preposition for. The
Here distributional classes refer to the/or-clause function within the higher clause, i.e. subject clauses, object
clauses, adverbial clauses, etc. (cfMa.it, 1987: 546)
reason for this, according to Erdmann (1997: 25), "may lie in the fact that ... only for
has throughout its history had non-temporal meaning variations, which corresponded
to the predications expressed by the for... to construction." And while he does indicate,
according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1981: 1533f),
that for can be traced back to the root per with the basic meaning of'forward', 'through'
and a wide range of extended senses, unfortunately he does not explain how these
basic meanings generated the use of introductory for.
The for NP to V construction did not exist in Old English however. According to
Fischer (1988: 67) it developed, "in the course of the Middle English period, gaining
more and more ground in Modern English." Furthermore, she convincingly argues that
there is no direct relation between the rise of for NP to Vand the disappearance of
infinitival for in constructions such as no wys man nedeth for to wedde? In addition,
Fischer (1988: 72) claims that "examples from OE make clear that the 'newness' of the
for NP to V construction consists in the introduction of for, not in the introduction of a
NP before the infinitive" because with the loss of the morphological case system in
Middle English the preposition for starts to take over the old benefactive function
expressed by the dative in Old English.
In contemporary English, according to Erdmann (1997: 25), "the origin of the
introductory for is still evident in the fact that the majority of for... to constructions
occur after predicators allowing /or-objects." Yet, as Erdmann indicates with the
following corpus example, the for... to construction also occurs after predicators that
cannot have a /or-object such as the adjective, willing: "Is your wife willing for us to
have it [a meeting]?" This is possible, according to Jespersen (1965: 308), because the
original meaning of for is excluded as a result of being gradually disconnected from the
word or words with which it was originally closely connected, thus becoming the "mere
grammatical sign of the subject of the infinitival nexus."
Sentences like Mary wants for to leave do occur in a number of non-standard dialects such as Ottawa Valley
English in which Carroll (1983: 424) argues that for can be analyzed as either a preposition in front of bare
infinitives or as complementizer before NP subjects.
In this way, for evolves into what Bresnan (1979) calls a "true complementizer",
a view which she claims is supported by the observation that "practically any noun
phrase can occur as its "object", even the expletive there," whereas "the preposition for
does not have this leeway" as she indicates with the following two examples:
(a) It would be catastrophic for the economy for there to be a
sudden massive influx of women into the job market
(b) */t would be catastrophic for there.
However it should be pointed out that what Bresnan calls expletive there is merely one
use of there and not a separate lexical item; in this use there corresponds to the logical
subject of a verb, whence the impossibility of its having this function in (b) above,
although this sequence could be interpreted as meaning 'It would be catastrophic for
there, but not for here.' Moreover, it could be argued in (a) that for introduces a
prospective existential locus of the possible sudden massive influx of women into the
job market: since that which could occupy a locus in existence is prospective, it makes
sense to construe the locus it may occupy as prospective by means of for (c/Duffley:
3. Characteristics of the For-Complement
3.1 Subject of the Infinitive
Another question to be raised regards reference to the subject of an infinitive. Why
is the pronoun in object case? Hanston (1980: 2) points out that "for seems to behave
syntactically as a preposition in so far as it requires the subject of the infinitive clause
to be in the object case. Thus in It was too cold for us to have a swim we have for us. to
have a swim, not *for w£ to have a swim." Given that the case is accusative, this lends
support to for being a preposition rather than a complementizer. Furthermore, it could
be argued that the infinitive cannot have a subject because it is not limited to an ordinal
support such as the grammatical 1st, 2nd, 3 rd singular or plural persons. Duffley (1999:
149) describes the term 'subject' as a word which stands in a relation to a finite verb
such that:
(a) the word in question denotes the 'VERBING ENTITY' in the event
expressed by the verb (this John denotes the 'eating entity' thus
in the sentence John ate the custard)
(b) the word in question has, or is replaceable by, one of the following
forms: I, you, he, she, it, we, they
(c) if the verb is in the indicative mood it shows, third-person vs. non-thirdperson agreement (-s vs. 0); if the verb is be, it shows first (am), third
(is) or plural (are) agreement.
He further adds that "What justifies taking these as defining a linguistic category in
English is that they involve a stable correlation between meaning and linguistic sign: if
one has (b) and (c) on the level of the sign, one always observes (a) on the level of the
meaning." To determine whether or not the infinitive can take a subject is not the
purpose of this thesis, but the aforementioned comments do support the description of
for as a preposition followed by its object rather than as a complementizer introducing
the subject of the infinitive.
3.2 Other Characteristics
According to Jespersen (1965: 314), other characteristics of the forcomplement, distinguishing it from the ordinary Subject + infinitive as object of a verb
('accusative with infinitive') include:
(a) in the beginning of a sentence: for a man to tell... is hard.
(b) separated from the governing verb: what I like best is for a
nobleman to marry..., cf. / like a nobleman to marry..
(c) after than and as: nothing can be more absurd than for a
prince to employ...
(d) after substantives: it is my wish for you to be happy; cf. / wish you
to be happy—and adjectives: / was so impatient for you to come.
These characteristics and others (including passivisation, occurrence with nonreferring expressions like it or there, non-extraposition, etc.) reflect some of the
grammatical criteria used by Erdmann to distinguish/or... to constructions from/or... to
sequences which are "prepositional objects plus to-infinitive." Yet, Erdmann (1997:
27) admits "that the for... to sequence can also be analysed as a for... to construction
when it occurs after verbs like hope." Ultimately, disambiguating for... to sequences,
according to Erdmann (1997: 18), "depends on the linguistic context in which they
This then suggests that the function of for as either a subordinating
conjunction (complementizer) or a preposition is determined by the context rather
than originating from any semantic notion contributed by the word itself.
Wagner (2000: 206) in her study of wait for and the problems of disambiguating
prepositional for from complementizer for disputes the above by claiming:
"empty" NPs (it, there) cannot serve as controllers of the infinitive;
nevertheless, wait for it/there to Vis grammatical;
prepositional phrases should be capable of becoming subjects through
passivisation and should be available for relativisation and questioning but
generally are not in wa/t/or/to-structures
there are clear instances in which for NP to Vhas to be analysed as a unit or,
in other words, where wait for NP to Vdoes clearly not imply wait for NP;
KD9 (2526) We're waiting for the rain to stop
KD3 (2226) ... wait for your body to get back to normal
In the case of wait for, the preposition and the verb do not form a semantic and
syntactic unit, as wait can occur without/or and it is possible to insert words between
wait and for NP to. All this, as Wagner (2000: 206) points out, argues in favour of
"supporting the one-constituent analysis of for/to," at least in the case of wait for.
However, it is not necessarily an argument that/or NP to V is a unit One finds the same
sort of behaviour with object complement constructions such as I found this question
hard (* I found this question). Here hard denotes the state in which the question was
found, and the whole point of the sentence is to express what characteristic the finding
led the speaker to see the question as possessing. Similarly in We're waiting for the
rain to stop, what the subject is waiting for is not the rain but the rain's moving to the
actualization of stop.
Jespersen (1965: 299ff) describes the for... to construction as a Subject +
Infinitive construction in which it is the object of a verbal phrase (i.e. care for, take care
of, etc.). This nexus is referred to as a 'prepositional construction', with for being the
preposition most often used to precede the infinitive. These constructions first
appeared after adjectives (i.e. anxious, sorry), too, enough, and as, and were then
extended to substantives and adjectives which could not otherwise be combined with
for or occurred with other prepositions (i.e. sign, permission, decree, request, plan,
favour, hurry, keen, afraid, ashamed). Erdmann (1997:15) distinguishes between for...
to constructions "consisting of an introductory for, a nominal expression with the
function of subject, and a to-infinitive with the function of predicate" and other for... to
sequences in which the noun phrase introduced by for is not the subject of the toinfinitive. He illustrates this with the following two authentic examples: In the kitchen
she opened the fridge and searched for things to nibble and Christian looked around the
crowded canteen for somewhere to sit and claims that "the terms things and somewhere,
introduced by for, cannot be understood as subjects of the to-infinitives to nibble and to
sit" By contrasting two readings with the same verb as in / long for Joe to arrive vs. /
long for something to eat it can be shown that it is pragmatics that determines whether
the NP following for is understood to correspond to a subject, a direct object or a
circumstantial. This raises the question of why the entity introduced by for is not
always the subject of the infinitive. If the role of for is to introduce the subject of the
infinitive and that subject is already represented in the main clause, why would the forphrase be necessary? Would it not, instead, be redundant? In addition, further
questions have been discussed in the literature concerning whether this for belongs to
the whole clause or to the infinitive, and what meaning, if any, for contributes.
4. The For-Complementizer: Semantically Empty?
According to Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman (1999: 639), the tradition in
generative grammar is to treat this for as the non-finite equivalent of that in tensed
clauses because it appears in much the same position as the latter, but with non-finite
verb forms. The choice between complementizers results from either the selection
properties of heads or a correspondence to a general property of infinitive
This recalls Jespersen's (1965: 308) argument that "for becomes the
mere grammatical sign of the subject (S) of the infinitival nexus" in which "the original
meaning of the preposition is excluded." Although, Berk (1999: 239) claims that
"which higher verbs require for in the clause is rather arbitrary; no particular semantic
criteria exists." Bresnan (1979: 13) however pointed out that "there is evidence from
syntax, semantics, and universal grammar that complementizers are far from the
semantically empty, syntactically trivial particles they have been assumed to be in most
previous generative work." As will be demonstrated, she presents persuasive
arguments as to the meaning contributed by for in the for-subject-infrnitive construction
and how this meaning conditions the choice of certain predicates. In any case, whether
for functions as a preposition or a complementizer, or a mere grammatical sign, the
question remains as to what meaning is contributed by for.
4.1 Semantic Interpretations
One possible semantic contribution has been discussed by Jespersen (1965:
304$) who observes that "in nearly all sentences the combination of for and an
infinitive denotes some vague possibility or something imagined." He suggests that in
the example, he was ashamed for the Japanese to see it the possibility is evoked that the
Japanese might see it whereas ashamed of the Japanese seeing it would imply that they
did see it. Erdmann (1997:135$) refers to this idea of'vague possibility' or 'something
imagined' when he states that "the predicators permitted by the for... to construction
are used prospectively," by which he means that the predication expressed by the/or...
to construction is something which has not yet taken place. However, he does admit
that a small group of predicators describe an event which has already taken place,
especially those that express an emotional reaction or an evaluation by the
speaker/writer. These predicators are termed EMOTIVE by Kiparsky and Kiparsky
(1970: 169), who claim that the for-to complements are limited to this semantically
natural class of predicates which "express the subjective value of a proposition rather
than knowledge about it or its truth value." For example, important, crazy, odd, all
belong to the emotive class of predicates versus the non-emotive well-known, clear, or
goes without saying. Jespersen (1965: 305) adds that "for stands before the name of the
person for whom something is destined or reserved, or who is to do the thing denoted
by the infinitive." However, when considered as a group or unit, the for + Sconstruction before an infinitive, often expresses a purpose, design, or determination.
Bresnan (1979: 80$) claims that "the key to the meaning of the/or complementizer lies
in the meaning of the preposition for." She uses the following examples to illustrate the
use of for as expressing subjective reason or cause (i.e. the reason for attribution or
judgment): He considers her a fool for her generosity and He considers it foolish for her to
help him (here for her seems more like 'with respect to her' than 'because of her');
whereas, the following examples express purpose, use, or goal This book is for your
amusement and This book is for you to amuse yourself with while I'm away. She further
argues that "the concepts of reason and purpose are semantically related, both
implying motivation, and both implying directionality, whether from a source or
toward a goal." (1979: 81)
This might help to explain why future-oriented and
affective verbs such as arrange, desire, expect, hate, hope, intend, like, love, plan, and
prefer readily occur with for. Rudanko (1984) gives five classes of verbs governing for
clauses with the basic meaning of '(not) want' such as hope, wait, like, long, love, pine,
prefer, want and wish. And, finally, Mustanoja (1960: 514) asserts that "all the earliest
instances of the for to infinitive clearly express purpose." According to Wagner (2000:
195), this purpose reading, "seems to have been the starting point from which the
construction began its spread" even if "a purposive sense today is no longer felt to be
present in most instances offor/to."
4.2 Lindstromberg: A Prototypical Meaning
The most interesting contribution towards a semantic interpretation of for
comes from Lindstromberg (1998: 221) who describes a 'prototypical' or 'core'
meaning of for as "that of 'ear-marking' the Subject—i.e., assigning the Subject to a
Landmark for use, consumption or possession." By this he means that the 'landmark' of
for is the eventual user/consumer/possessor of the entity which has been destined for
him/her. He uses the example This piece of cake is for Jane in which the subject, a piece
of cake, has been 'ear-marked' for the object (landmark), Jane. In other words, because
of the lexical contribution of for, the entity denoted by the NP subject is intended for
the landmark. Lindstromberg then applies this core meaning of 'ear-marking' to the
for... to pattern, disputing the interpretation that for is simply a complementizer
binding the complement to its head. Indeed, he argues that a deeper level of analysis
can be obtained by considering for as expressive of an ear-marking sense. Through the
example What I want is for him to meet the deadline, Lindstromberg (1998: 226) claims
that "what is allocated here is the act of meeting a deadline" or in other words, meeting
the deadline, has been 'ear-marked' or is 'intended for' the object of for, namely him. In
addition to these points, another consideration is the semantic contribution of the
infinitival to, or preposition to, which Lindstromberg and Duffley (cf1992, 2004) argue
establishes a time-order sequence of before/after, with the event expressed by the
matrix verb coming before the second event expressed by the infinitive. Duffley (2004:
370) describes the to-infinitive "as a prepositional phrase acting as a goal-specifier
with respect to the main verb." Therefore, with respect to What I want is for him to
meet the deadline the event expressed by want (a desire) comes first, or before the goal
which is the realization of the infinitive's event of meet the deadline by him. The lexical
contribution of to is consistent with the notion of the object of the preposition/or being
earmarked as the desired realizer of the infinitive's event.
Indeed, according to
Lindstromberg (1998: 222) "For does not indicate that the Landmark is a destination
in the way that to does. ... for (unlike to) places emphasis on the direction of a trip
rather than on its endpoint, with 'direction' being the non-metaphorical counterpart of
'ear-marking'/ 'allocation'." In addition, Lindstromberg observes that the 'ear-marking'
happens first, before the achievement of the goal of the desire or want, as in the
sentence above. Moreover, he suggests that when for is used it is the beginning of an
event rather than the endpoint that is foremost in the speaker's mind. Thus in These
packets are bound for the West, the packets have been ear-marked before the trip has
begun, and in They left for home an hour ago, leave implies that the beginning rather
than the endpoint of a trip is foremost in the speaker's mind. All this leads to an
impression of a semantic harmony between the two prepositions in the for... to
construction with for contributing the idea of the ear-marking of the event for its
prospective realizer and to designating the movement of this entity to the realization of
the infinitive's event. Furthermore, this description of for and to justifies their cooccurrence in the same sentence and avoids treating these words as semantically
5. Verbal Matrix Predicates
The idea mentioned above that for 'ear-marks' its Subject, and represents the
beginning of movement towards a goal, with to being the goal-specifier, will need to be
applied to a corpus. A starting point could be to apply the aforementioned notion to the
corpus work already completed by De Smet (2005: 11), who observes that "the verbs
selecting for... to infinitives form a semantically homogeneous class, in that most of
them designate an activity or a state of mind that is directed to or conducive to the
realisation of the event referred to by the for... to-infinitive." Some of these verbs
which occur with the/or... to pattern are:
...verbs denoting activities (afford, apply, elect, lobby, pay, vote), verbs of
communication (gesticulate, indicate, mention, phone, say), verbs of volition
(ache, desire, expect, thirst), and verbs that are ambiguous either between
communication and activity (agree, appeal, argue, consent, plead, push,
press), or between volition/anticipation and activity (choose, intend, look,
mean, plan, plot). (DeSmet 2005: 34)
De Smet (2005: 1) also indicates that "while for... to-infinitives pattern with the verbs
hope and wait, they do not combine with the verbs believe and claim."
Further pertinent observations have been made by Wagner (2000: 204), whose
table1 below provides an overview of verbal matrix predicates of for-to infinitives and
examples of them. Among her observations is that less than a third of the 252 object
clauses after monotransitive verbs have an inanimate NP following/or. Wagner argues
that "a prototypical for/to object clause in the corpus consists of a verb which can also
take a prepositional object introduced by for, followed by a human noun phrase,
usually a personal pronoun or a name."
TABLE 5 : Verbal Matrix Predicates oi for-to Infinitives from Wagner (2000: 205)
Typical Example
(all examples taken from the British National Corpus)
KCA (987) I'm just waiting for a man to knock on my door and say
J3T(445)...it asks for further reductions to be added to that if
KCA (398)...she pays for him to have a taxi...
...he wanted to get the car and for me to drive...
F8P (132)...it was arranged for us to fire a rifle at the rifle range.
KDM (1220) She isn't working but she said for them to ring her
HVH (267)...the final definition of the York greenbelt did allow
for that possibility to emerge
KE1 (3210) Pray for my wish to come true
KCS (2658)...the doctor came out and called for the next person
to come in
KR0 (773)...he phoned for the doctor to be quick...
J9B (578) ...the only other thing I think it remains for me to say
KE6 (3341)...we voted for you to go there...
(HDC;Cambridgeshire)...we used to [...] watch for'er come up
West Fen Road.
All examples in this table were selected by Wagner (2000).
6. Conclusion
The treatment of for in for + NP + to-infinitive constructions sees it as an
introductory element (complementizer) of a complement and not a preposition. This
classification is based on a purely syntactic view offor which only considers its position
at the beginning of an infinitival phrase. The attempts to consider for as a word
contributing meaning have been limited to a few authors who allude to the idea of
purpose or prospectiveness. However, little consideration has been given to the other
players in this construction such as the to-infinitive.
The semantics of the for... to
construction has been considered here in terms of what each word contributes rather
than by merely considering this combination of words as a unit, albeit a tightly-knit
one. This approach has led to a better understanding of for as an independent word,
thus avoiding the confusion between whether for functions as a conjunction-like
particle belonging to the whole clause, or as a preposition belonging just to the subject
of the infinitive. It has been shown that for is used for its semantic harmony with the
preposition to introducing the infinitive: to represents the actualization of its event as
the endpoint of a movement, and for ear-marks a certain subject as the prospective
actualizer of this event.
Chapter 4
Corpus Analysis: Verbs Signifying Movement
1. Preliminaries
The preceding chapter examined the use of for as a complementizer and the
various points of view as to whether or not this use of for has meaning as a separate
word or is simply a semantically empty word belonging to a syntactic group. The
position taken by this thesis is that for in all its uses contributes meaning. Indeed,
Bresnan (1979), Lindstromberg (1998), Wagner (2000) and DeSmet (2007) all suggest
a possible semantic notion contributed by for in the for...to construction. This notion is
predominantly that of forward-looking directionality, ear-marking or prospectiveness.
The search for the meaning of for in this dissertation is largely based on the
observation and analysis of for in various corpora. As one of the most frequently
occurring prepositions (c/Mundt, 1989), there is no lack of available data, indeed the
problem is organizing the examples in such a way as to observe differences that could
be attributed to the meaning of individual words. It is for this reason that Cadiot's
(1991) organization of examples in analyzing the French preposition pour with verbs
signifying movement was adopted for this chapter. Bresnan's (1979) work on the
meaning of the /or-complementizer with respect to the link between purpose and
directionality became the basis for Chapter 5, with the result that the examples
discussed in that chapter are grouped according to verbal lexemes which imply a
semantic notion of future-oriented or forward-looking directionality. In Chapter 6, the
examples of verbs signifying speech or expression are examined.
Excluded from the analysis of verbs of movement are examples in which the forphrase is followed by to + infinitive, as the latter generally expresses the purpose for
the movement. Furthermore, if one were to compare go + to + infinitive to go + for +
noun phrase, a second variable would be introduced on top of the for vs. to opposition.
As a result, the comparison would no longer be between for + NP and to + NP, but also
between the infinitive and the noun phrase, which would make it impossible to isolate
what the preposition itself contributes to the message expressed by these utterances.
2. Data Organization and Analysis: Verbs of Movement
Interpreting the results of examples of for with verbs signifying movement will
involve observing the types of noun phrases that occur with verbs of movement when
construed with for and contrasting these observations with the data found with the
same verbs when construed with the semantically related preposition to. While there
is not always a one-to-one relationship between the use of for and the French
equivalent pour, Cadiot (1991) brings to light certain points worthy of note that will be
useful in examining usage with for after verbs signifying movement. The organization
of our examples will therefore be based on Cadiot's three semantic categories: "(a) les
verbes de direction ... (b) les verbes de mouvement intrinsèque (qui décrivent un
mouvement en lui-même)... (c) les verbes de mouvement du corps." (1991: 48)
Consequently, verbs of movement1 occurring with for have been divided into:
(a) verbs of direction: go, arrive, depart, head, return, come, set out, set off,
set sail, bound, travel
(b) verbs of manner-specified movement: run, walk, wander, stray, march, fly,
dash, rush, climb, slip, skid, scurry
(c) verbs of bodily movement: reach, stoop, bend down
Furthermore, according to Cadiot (1991), these three classes can be
distinguished with respect to semantic properties that are either coded explicitly or
implied pragmatically. For example, Cadiot (1991: 48) notes:
Dans un mouvement, il y a en effet un point de départ <PD>, un
point d'arrivée <PA>, une trajectoire <T> et une qualité ou modalité
du mouvement < QM>.... On peut caractériser les classes (a) à (c)
en fonction de celles de ces caractéristiques qu'ils codent explicitement,
les autres propriétés étant impliquées au terme de la notion même de
Should the 'PA', or destination of the subject with respect to the verb of
movement, be coded by the verb itself, then according to Cadiot (1991: 49) this class
requires a complement introduced by à in French or to in English as in (a). However,
this is not the case with pour because "... pour n'est pas agréé pour exprimer le PA, codé
par le sémantisme d'un verbe de direction." (1991: 47) The situation is similar in
English: for is incapable of expressing the arrival-point implied by a verb of direction
such as arrive; instead, the preposition at is used to express contact with the arrivalpoint In example (2) below with arrive, for expresses the reason for the movement,
while in (3) at expresses the point of contact or end-point of the movement of arriving.
2. The morning it was announced a vast audience arrived for Ramsey's
lecture and cheered him all the way up to the dais. (BNC: A68 14802)
The selection of verbs, by no means exhaustive, was inspired by Cadiot (1991: 48).
All examples from the British National Corpus (BNC) include a TEI-conformant header linked
to full classification, contextual and bibliographic information.
3. Somehow Jack got through the rest of the day and arrived at the hospital
tired and miserable. (BNC: BPD 1822)
With the exception of at used to express contact with the arrival-point, another
difference between the closely linked prepositions to and for with verbs of movement
is the significance of reaching the endpoint of the movement. In the case of à N, Cadiot
(1991: 49) notes that it signifies "l'effectuation réalisée d'une trajectoire ayant atteint
une cible (un PA) spécifique (i.e. reconnue par les interlocuteurs);" in contrast the use
of pour N "ne comporte en aucun cas l'anticipation (ou plus généralement,
l'implication) que la cible est atteinte." This observation also applies to English: in the
contrastive pair He went to the elevator/He went for the elevator, to implies reaching
the elevator while for does not. Instead, for expresses the desire to reach the elevator, a
result to be achieved rather than the endpoint of the movement as is the case with to.
Another similar interpretation is provided by Tyler and Evans (2003: 146) who
use the examples of (a) He ran to the hills vs. (b) He ran for the hills to bring out the
semantic difference between the two prepositions where:
... (a) is more likely to be used in a context where reaching the hills
is being emphasized, that is, the hills as a primary physical goal or
objective. This might be the case, for instance, when reporting on a
jogger's fitness regimen. In contrast, the sentence in (b) is more likely
to be employed when reaching the hills is a means to an end, rather than
the end in itself. For example, in the case of warfare, where hills might
afford cover or shelter from the enemy, then reaching the hills would
serve the purpose of providing safety.
Tyler and Evans (2003:147) further distinguish for from to by arguing that "to head/or
the hills in order to avoid the enemy reflects a level of calculation and purposeful
planning that goes beyond simply designating the hills as the end point of one's daily
run" (as is the case with to), leading the authors to "hypothesize that intentionality is
an important aspect of the functional element associated with for but not with to."
However, problems arise with Tyler and Evans' description of for as inherently
implying 'intentionality' because this notion is not applicable to the temporal use offor
as found in They ran for 2 hours.
The following tables of randomly selected examples from the BNC give a
selection of verbs of movement which can be followed either by for or to. Analysis and
comments follow each table regarding similarities or differences between the use of for
or to or other prepositions and how these observations may or may not reflect upon
for's meaning. Concluding rémarks and significant observations follow at the end of the
3. Verbs of Direction
Included in this section are the following verbs: go, arrive, depart, head, leave,
return, come, set out, set off, set sail, bound (adjective).
3.1 To Go
TABLE 6: To Go
for + noun phrase
Chris Price
the likes ofGolfGTis and BMWs
the Melbourne Cup
his belly
a walk
an audition to the BBC in Cardiff
an enormous DM4,682,000
cocktails at Strabismus
hypnotherapy which helped.
a second opinion
a year
an unscheduled underwater swim
a drink to the pub
a huge price
a drive to let offsome steam
the dedication of large areas
to + noun phrase
the Clerecia
her house
a committee meeting
evening classes
another department
a fair
the bathroom
the shops
the window
our robot plane
a particular university
the back of the building
school (activity)
bed (activity)
a tiny bar
twelve miles (expanded to)
the top of the class
In accordance with Cadiot's hypothesis above that the PA (point d'arrivée) is
coded by the verb to go, the data does support his position that the noun phrase
following the preposition to represents the goal or destination of the subject of the
verb. The only apparent exception is the noun phrase twelve miles in the example
4. There used to be an agreed area of three miles then it went to
twelve miles but that's now in question because of the different ways
in which the sea has been developed. (BNC: JSL 267)
Here however, going corresponds to a movement of expansion which started at an area
of 3 miles and ended up attaining a final limit of 12 miles, so 12 miles does indeed
correspond to the arrival-point of the metaphorical movement expressed by go.
With respect to for, the noun phrase following it can represent the reason or
purpose of the going, as in wentfor a walk, or wentfor a second opinion. The impression
of purpose is obvious in:
5. I went to London for my training. (BNC:HEL101)
Another difference between for and to is the use of temporal noun phrases with
for and not with to, as in:
6. / left school in 1941, and went for a year as a student teacher
in my father's school. (BNC:B1Y519)
The construction go + for is a phrasal verb according to Collins Cobuild Phrasal
Verbs Dictionary (2006:138-139). They write that "if you go for a particular thing you
choose it or aim to achieve it... and go for someone or something you like them very
much... (or) you attack them... fetch means almost the same thing as go for." These
impressions are brought out in the full examples from the BNC:
7. To begin with, thieves went for the likes ofGolfGTIs and BMWs,
but now bread-and-butter cars are also being taken. (BNC: A6X 323)
8. Derek Mountfield and Kevin Gage were horribly out of touch; the
scalpel tongues went for Chris Price in that peculiarly cutting way
reserved for baddies playing badly; (BNC: A1N 420)
The/or-phrase clearly expresses the notion of purpose in this type of construction.
The two examples below make an interesting comparison in that both noun
phrases evoke a similar notion of a gathering or meeting of people. However, for brings
to the message an impression of a movement leading towards a desired result, that of
having regular check-ups in (9), while to in (10) evokes the endpoint of going. In this
example, go + to could be paraphrased as 'attend'.
9. For two years he needed massage several times a day and still
goes for regular check-ups at hospital. (BNC: K4V 2500)
10. Well, this one guy goes to AA meetings for the free coffee.
He said he doesn 't have a drinking problem (COCA1)
3.2 To Arrive
TABLE 7: To Arrive
for + noun phrase
Ramsey's lecture
the match
their weekly gettogether
a Dry Martini
peace talks
the trial
a three-day visit to
our heroine
a t + noun phrase
the Palace of
one of the great
lawn stories
his house
the same conclusion
the hospital
the temple
the conclusion
in + noun
the area
a huge lorry
the foulest mood
the capital.
to + noun phrase
the ballpark
Roosevelt Hospital
our table
the tunnels
the neighborhood
the US.
the emergency
a packed hearing
Unlike the BNC, the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) does not use TEI-conformant
headers. Full context information is available for each example at the COCA website.
Arrive is defined (c/Canadian Oxford Dictionary: 69) as 'reaching a destination,
coming to the end of a journey' and as would be expected the prepositions at and in
often follow arrive given that these prepositions indicate point of contact, or
destination, at the end of a journey. Certainly this is the case with at and in, as indicated
by the table of randomly collected noun phrases in which most denote a geographic
location or a precise time, or, as in the case of the conclusion, an abstract impression of
the end of a journey. However, another impression arises with for, specifically that of
the purpose of the arrival. In the following from the BNC:
11. The alarm was raised by a cook who arrived for work as normal but
Mrs Johnstone failed to open up for lunch-time business. (BNC: K3K1972)
work is the reason or purpose of the arrival. In the following, him, them or Raoul all
denote intended recipients.
12. Boswellfelt depressed for a brief time, and homesick: no letters had
arrived for him, the cause of a little worry. (BNC: G1Y 800)
13. A second letter arrived for them -;from O.G. (BNC: FPL 227)
14. Two days before the Opera House opened again, a letter arrived
for Raoul. (BNC: FPL 446)
Similarly, in the example below 'our heroine' is the intended recipient of the glamour,
which may be the result of her activities.
15. And thus it was that glamour had arrived for our heroine. (BNC: ED3
While the prepositions at and in, indicating the point of contact or end of the
journey, occur more frequently with arrive, examples of arrive + to, where to also
indicates the end point of the arrival were found in the COCA corpus. This can be
observed in examples (16) and (17) below.
16. Participants indicated that the majority of students arrived to class on
time, dressed and groomed themselves appropriately for school (COCA)
17. The Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence
Thomas opened today. The forty-three year old Judge arrived to a packed
hearing room this morning. (COCA)
3.3 To Depart
TABLE 8: To Depart
for + noun phrase
afternoon tea
the northern mountains
the ranges in four-tonne
the death
pasture in the south
cooler waters
the dressing room
his shower
his living-room
is new base at ...
the Soviet Union
his lunchtime imbibition
lusher pastures
the bathroom
their summer holidays
a period ofsix months
to + noun phrase
the kitchen
his exile
the Foreign Office
her kitchen
their winter quarters
Lewis (person)
the bus-stop
more luxuriant pastures
the bar
the Coachman
Observations of noun phrases following departed for reveal a significant number
of expressions of destination. Of itself, the /or-phrase does not indicate whether the
destination is reached or not, although it is compatible with contexts in which other
elements suggest this to be the case, as in:
18. Auchinleck departed for India, to be replaced by General Alexander. (BNC:
AR8 1358)
19. It established a capitalist economy, produced urban migration and
left women doing the men's work as well as their own in areas where
the men had departed for the cities. (BNC: H8W192)
The difference between the noun phrase indicating destination for both for and
to does not seem to be whether or not the destination was reached but perhaps more in
the notion of "intentionality" as in:
20. In September of 1155 hefinallydeparted for Germany, to embark upon
a further programme of reorganisation in his homeland. (BNC: ASW1002)
Here 'Germany' is the destination, or intended destination for a specific reason as
indicated by the infinitive 'to embark'.
In the following example to designates the
destination while for designates the reason or the intention of the subject with respect
to the departure:
21. We cooked our dinner and departed to the bar on the site for a last night
celebration. (BNC: HP6 532)
However, the interpretations of (20) and (21) are ultimately dependent on the meaning
of the noun phrase following for and to and not exclusively on the preposition. In (20),
the noun following/or denotes a PLACE (Germany), with the ACTION designated by the
infinitive (to embark), while in (21), the noun following to designates a PLACE (the bar)
and the one following for is an ACTION (a last night celebration). In other words, it is
not just to that designates destination but also the noun following to, which in (21) is
the bar. Alternatively, if what follows to is an infinitive, as in (20) (embark), then to
designates purpose rather than destination. This just shows how careful one must be
not to attribute the meaning 'destination' to the preposition to all by itself. The latter is
a product of both the meaning of to and the meaning of the NP object of this
Impressions of reason or purpose are found in:
22. The ambassador returned to the charge at the beginning ofApril 1950,
just before he departed for visits to Australia and New Zealand
before returning to Seoul. (BNC: EDP 1056)
23. Brooding on this severe prospect, MacDonald and his colleagues departed
for their summer holidays. (BNC: HRJ 739)
Similarly, both visits in (22), or summer holidays in (23) evoke actions such that it is a
combination offor + complement that gives the impression of reason or purpose rather
than just the preposition for on its own.
3.4 To Head
TABLE 9: To Head
for + noun phrase
Mount Elgon
the Floral Gardens
the first time
his room.
the garden gate
the door
the fairways of Spain or Portugal
the high ground
Heathrow airport
a draw.
harder times.
his car
death unless treated
a higher grade of cricket one day.
the main stage to hear the results.
to + noun phrase
Nettles to meet Mcduff
the referee's dressing room to apologise.
the east of the island
the scene
the pub
the top of Roc des 3 Marches
the appropriate bridge
the nearest beach
New Delhi
Differences between headed for and headed to are not especially obvious, as in
both cases the noun phrase following these prepositions can designate the end-point of
the subject's movement. However, the following example indicates an interruption in
the subject's movement.
24. On our first day we headed for that beautiful beach... but we didn 't
make it the temptation was too great to lounge by probably the largest
and most stunning freshwater pool in the Canaries. (BNC: AMW 761)
Headed to is simple destination while headed for implies a reason for the movement, a
certain level of calculation or purposeful planning. This difference can also be seen in:
25. The inhabitants of the closes and the tenements had headed for the high
ground, leaving the trams and turmoil behind for the mist, the heather, and
a good brew-up in the but and ben. (BNC: ALL 1893)
26. Arty shrugged indifferently, as he drew on his dressing gown and headed
for the bathroom, where there was a larger mirror. (BNC: A7J 327)
27. But you need real people for a proper gloat so we headed for the
cardboard suburb in the Strand. (BNC: CAG 288)
28. She pulled on a plain black swimsuit and headed for the sea. (BNC: FRS
Further evidence that headed to denotes simple destination is found in the following
examples, where it is necessary to indicate the reason for the heading by means of the
to infinitive:
29. Theyfinishedoff their meal and headed to Nettles to meet Mcduff. (BNC:
AMB 1160)
30. When the temperature cooled down a few minutes later Gallacher
headed to the referee's dressing room to apologise. (BNC: B1L 136)
The noun phrase death in the following example follows headed for. No
examples have been found with headed to death. Death is not an endpoint with for, as it
would be with to, being rather a possible result which will occur should action not be
taken. The use offor allows for an interruption of the movement.
31. White Spot Icthyopthyirius multifiliis is less common in ponds than in
aquaria, but once the parasite is encysted in the familiar pinhead spot
the fish is headed for death unless treated. (BNC: FBN 2417)
3.5 To Leave
TABLE 10: To Leave
for + noun phrase
the next chapter
many weeks
Cape Town
a tour of Denmark
scholarships in America
the town
the attacking team
the war
to + noun phrase
Then at the age of 25 (November 1989) he left to
New York and worked in a Japanese-American
salon, (from the Internet)
At the age of 17, he left to New York and by the
time he was 19, he entered into thejuliard School
of Music, (from the Internet)
After graduating he left to New York City to
studyfilmat NYU. (from the Internet)
He leaves to New York tomorrow, (from the
Leave when followed by for gives the specific sense of depart; indeed, some of
the most common noun phrases following leave for indicate location as in:
32. Each of them had a job to do in the mornings before they left for school.
(BNC: CCM 1866)
Removing/or from the above example would give an entirely different impression, that
of'cease to remain in'.
No examples were found of noun phrases indicating destination or location
following leave + to, in the BNC or COCA. Instead most constructions are followed by
the infinitive with the resulting impression of reason or purpose of the leaving.
However, a Google search of the phrases "He left to New York" and "He leaves to New
York" did produce authentic examples.
3.6 To Return
TABLE 11: To Return
for + noun phrase
20 minutes
the verdict
the US Open
the deciding group
her results
their weekend
week of work
the Fourth
the summer holidays
his father's funeral
to + noun phrase
her chair
the Continent
the castle
his cell
a profit
the house for luncheon
the house
her cheeks
its owner
Return + to + noun phrase gives the impression of going back to, or a movement
leading back to a destination as indicated by the noun phrase, while return +for + noun
phrase gives the additional impression of purpose as in:
33. They returned for their week of work in Abu Dhabi (BNC: CDX 1676)
In the next example, the destination follows to while the reason follows for:
34. After a few minutes Crabb returned to the jetty for some extra weights
(BNC: ANO 1096)
In the example below for would not be possible:
35. In the nine months to 30 September 1992, profit before tax at Willis
Corroonfell by 31.6% to£60.9m, and Commercial Union returned to a
profit before tax of£6.1m (v£42.4m loss). (BNC: CBT 642)
This is because the idea is simply that of going back to a level of profit previously
In the example below, substituting for for to would give another sense, that of
'in place of:
36. The car was returned toits owner. (BNC: CFC 1175)
With the preposition to, on the other hand, 'owner' is the destination or recipient of the
3.7 To Come
TABLE 12: To Come
for + noun phrase
all of us
a meal
a Ministry for Men
greedy little girls
some fairly radical changes
you, me, her, them, him
his own ends
whatever reason
our superior quality of life
her at last
local authorities
specialist monographs
its complete abolition
a walk
a reason
the race
several generations
those very workers
a comparatively short
each event
an hour
to + noun phrase
the conclusion
the door
the all important
the cathedral
the right place
an end
its attention
her, her, them, us, you
some arrangement
my house
an agreement
Besides the temporal noun phrases an hour or holidays, which indicate the
duration of the stay, the other examples containing come + for + noun phrase express
the result pursued by the subject's coming, as seen in:
37. Maybe they come for our superior quality of life. (BNC: CFP 515)
In the example below, the for + NP constructions express two different desired
results—'to get you' and 'to have lunch':
38. I'm gonna come for you for lunch from school. (BNC: KBW 10825)
In examples below of come + to + noun phrase, on the other hand, the impression is one
of destination or end-point, as explicitly stated in examples (39) and (40):
39. Although I remained resolute that my partnership with Charlie would
come to an end the moment I was offered a place at university
(BNC: K8T 1602)
40. The technique is to allow through the first impressions that come to you.
(BNC: BMT 695)
In the next example (41), a significant contrast can be obtained by substituting for for
to; in the original example, the destination of the people is 'him', while for would give
the impression that taking the king into their custody or under their control was the
people's goal:
41. But a king could not simply sit back and wait for people to come to him.
(BNC: EFV 122)
3.8 To Set Out
TABLE 13: To Set Out
for + noun phrase
me, us
consultation a list of branded drugs
the Town Hall
Nathan's entertainment
the benefit of a person
the far bank
the three bears' breakfast
a Christmas break in Miami
Salzburg to visit Leopold
Fred's house
the supermarket
England to wreak
the club
the meeting
the inlet
the lavish dinner
resident pupils
to + noun phrase
her sister's,
the dentist
As a phrasal verb, set out is defined as 'starting a journey' (cf Collins Cobuild:
2006), and while the noun phrase following for may indicate the destination of the
subject it can also indicate purpose or reason as shown in the above sampling of
examples from the BNC. However, a more complete interpretation demonstrates that
the noun phrase destination is not simply the end-point of a movement but also
something that the subject wants to achieve. A purposive to-infinitive can sometimes
be found which expresses the reason for this desire, as in (42) below:
42. Only six weeks after her confinement, the Mozarts set out for Salzburg
to visit Leopold, a visit promised ever since their marriage but continually
put off, much to Leopold's annoyance. (BNC: CEW 596)
When used with to + NP, set out carries stronger implications that the destination was
reached, as can be observed in:
43. She then set out to her sister's, some considerable journey away on the
other side of the town. (BNC: H9G 167)
In COCA, five examples of set out to followed by noun phrases were found, the rest
being followed by the to infinitive. All five denote geographic destinations (they are
listed in the table above). In the example from COCA quoted below, 'set out to sea',
refers to the destination of the sailboats. No examples of'set out for sea' were found in
either SARA or COCA, possibly because 'sea' is simply the destination without any
implication of a desired result.
44. The practice races grow more and the training more frenetic in for
yachting's most prestigious championship, the America's Cup. With
less than a month to go before the Cup trials begin, skippers are honing
final strategies, scientists are applying calculus to hulls and keels, and
aquatic spies -yes, spies - are everywhere. Each day that the racing
teams set out to sea, they are shadowed by a flotilla of chase boats
and helicopters bearing rivals with cameras the length of masts. In a
sport where a minor change in sail configuration means victory or
defeat, national honor or punctured pride, the observers circle the
boats like gulls, trying to fathom competitors' tactics and technology.
3.9 To Set Off
TABLE 14: To Set Off
for + noun phrase
outlying farms.
the Odeon, Leicester Square
a walk
the bus
London, fame and fortune
the airport
the 1991 US PGA Championship
the first solo ascent
a long Bank Holiday break
the river
six months in Hollywood
the Sunday Herald building.
to + noun phrase
the north east
Kingsburgh for one of their most
memorable encounters
the bar at the quick march.
the first address on the list
the next address.
his foundation atAgaune.
the south
the north
parts unknown
To set off is practically synonymous to set out and indicates the start of a
journey. The noun phrase following for indicates both the destination and the reason
for the movement Thus, in the following each noun phrase following for not only
indicates the intended destination, but also allows for the impression of a reason such
that the desired result of the movement indicated by for in (45) could be getting help or
information from the police, while in (46) 'the bus' denotes a means of transport which
Vern wishes to take.
45. Side by side, a matching pair, both in their best clothes, they set off for
the police station on Royal Hill. (BNC: H85 1741)
46. No idea what time Vern set off for the bus, but it must be time for the next
one by now. (BNC: BMS 3253)
In the next example, (47), 'work' is the motivation for the movement of the
subject, without any impression of arrival at an end-point
'Set off evokes the
beginning of the movement, for the desired result, namely work, but not necessarily the
47. But I always think so many mums, dads and children who set off for work
and school in the morning, won't be coming back. (BNC: K97 16939)
These examples of set off+ to on the other hand indicate destination:
48. After a quick breakfast we set off to the first address on the list (BNC: H 89
49. Disconsolately, we got back into the rickshaws and set off to the next
address. (BNC: H89 645)
50. At last he turned north again, his dog still running at his heels, and
set off to a village just outside London. (BNC: FRK1951)
The intended destination noun phrase following for may or may not be reached by the
verb's subject, whereas with to there is an impression that the verbal subject did reach
its destination. In the next example, (51) from COCA, there is an impression of being
left in doubt as to whether or not the destination 'the border of cypress trees' was
51. She pulled herself up and saw the planes over the Gulf of Corinth just
as her mother whispered, " Oh, my God. " For a moment, they all sat
frozen, watchingfiveplanes wheel south away from the sea and toward
the city itself. Then Eleni began to run. My grandfather ran after her,
shouting to the others to make their way together to the edge of the
meadow. Upending hampers and bowls, they set off for the border of
cypress trees and pines to take cover. The first of the bombs exploded in
the city and my mother turned to see a second plane dropping its payload.
My grandmother seized her elbow to drag her ahead, but she cried out,
" Look, Mama, look! " One of the planes had veered off from the others
and was flying eastwards away from the city. Again they froze,
watching this plane as it appeared to fly directly toward their meadow.
In the two next examples, also from COCA, in (52) the destination was clearly
not reached, but rather there is an impression that what is important is getting away
from her husband, and not reaching the destination, whereas in (53) the 'setting off
succeeded and the 'unknown' destination was reached.
52. The judge said that 1 did not provide sufficient evidence to convince
her that she was an unfit mother and gave my ex-wife sole physical
custody, despite the explicit preferences of all three of our daughters
and the recommendation of a court-appointed psychologist "
Michael # " My wife spent the first part of the morning baiting me for
a fight When this failed to generate a sympathetic responsefromme,
she started threatening suicide in front of our ten-year-old daughter.
She then attempted to set off for parts unknown (after vowing to end
it all) with our three-year-old daughter in her arms. When I said that
I'd call the police, she put her down, (COCA)
53. Our vehicle held the food and drink for our trip and was, to me, a
first-class accommodation. I hoped our lone Siamesefightingfish,
propped in the back between picnic basket and cooler, would think so
too. I had emptied hisfishbowl halfway to avoid a deadly spill. # With
teary sighs and quick last-minute glances, we took leave of our Kentucky
home and set off to parts unknown. I plucked a rose from a friend's rose
bush to adorn my dashboard and remind me of hope ahead. My rose
withered in the summer heat, but the excitement of the highway, the
modern pioneer's trail, beckoned us once more. # The truck was so heavily
laden that, like a sagging donkey on the way to market, it would not move
fast When wefinallydrove into Maryland 18 hours later, traffic seemed
denser, the familiar bluegrass had disappeared, (COCA)
3.10 To Set Sail
TABLE 15: To Set Sail
for + noun pfirase
South Africa in 1891
anew life
the Americas 500years ago
dukedom of Orkney
the New World
Eur ope...and for war
a new destination
her homeland
East Timor
the Falklands
to + noun phrase
London to see the show
New York
the New World
the distant dominions
Corpus data with set sail reveals that noun phrases indicating location are far
more frequent following for than following to. Like the two preceding verbs, set sail
also indicates the start of a movement, in this case specifically the movement of a boat.
Destination is not the focus of the movement, but rather the start of the movement
possibly leading to arrival at a destined result. Thus, in the following examples, the
'new life', or 'Mogadishu' and 'America' are the desired destinations towards which the
subjects are moving, but what is expressed is the start of this movement.
54. The Jones family set sail for a new life. (BNC: ADR 64)
55. Italian and French frigates have set sail for Mogadishu. (BNC: ABD 1112)
56. England, from which my other distant ancestors, theSutters,
had set sail for America three centuries before. (COCA)
If the start of the movement is expressed by set sail, with the desired destination
being expressed by the/or-phrase, then one would expect to find examples where the
desired destination is not reached. This is the case in (57) below, where the vessel in
question may or may not reach Teeside given the opposition of the environmentalists.
57. A French warship deemed too toxic to be broken up in India is to set
sail for Britain. The 27,000 ton hulk is laden with asbestos and other
toxic chemicals and environmentalists in France and the UK are
opposed to bringing her here. (Telegraph.co.uk: internet)
Interestingly, a comparison of set sail for with set sail to reveals that the
preposition for is much more frequent than the preposition to: there was only one
example of set sail to vs. 31 with for in a BNC search and only 4 examples of to in COCA
vs. 77 examples of set sail for. Copied below are two examples of the 4 found in COCA
of set sail to:
58. / remember perfectly, even now, where we lived before we began our infernal
exile, the movement from the shtetl to Berlin, where I learnt to read and write,
and alone with my brother across to London and then to my shame of being
caught and locked in Millbank Prison and then Portland Prison for two years
before I set sail to the New World. Ha! This looks just like another little England
full of dreadful men following rules, but only with more sunshine and bush.
59. In June 1874 as the majority of the 170 Kleine Gemeinde families left for Quebec
City and hence to Manitoba, a minority set sail to New Yorkfromwhence they
made their way to Beatrice, Nebraska. (COCA)
In (58) and (59) above, the 'New World' and 'New York', both designate the
destinations to which the subjects were headed and which they reached. The expanded
contexts provide evidence of the destinations being reached with 'another little
England' in (58) and 'from whence they made their way' in (59). There is an
impression of the start of a voyage followed by the end of a voyage, in other words, a
complete movement leading to a final destination. Afinaldestination is not necessarily
coded by the verb 'set sail', instead only the start of the voyage; thus, for may be more
compatible with this verbal phrase than to, because the focus is on the start and not
necessarily on reaching the destination.
3.11 To Travel
TABLE 16: To Travel
for + noun phrase
the rest of his life
q uite a few yards
a long time
to + noun phrase
the Middle East
New York
this planet
various destinations
There were no examples of noun phrases of destination occurring with travel +
for, instead the noun phrases designated a desired result be it pleasure or a temporal or
spatial extent, such as days or quite a few yards. However, noun phrases of destination
do occur with the preposition to. This supports the hypothesis of a semantic harmony
between the lexical notion of to of movement leading towards an end point, a final
destination, and the notion of travel, which denotes the movement that occurs between
the point of departure (A) and the point of arrival (B).
4. Verbs of Manner-Specified Movement
Included in this section are the following verbs: run, crawl, walk, wander, stray,
march, fly, dash, rush and climb.
4.1 To Run
TABLE 17: To Run
ran for +noun phrase
the door
21 years
the woods
the marsh
her life
less than a year
the shattered back door
the interior of the ship
the back seat
the door
the cliff-top
the kitchen
ran to + noun phrase
his mother
the bureau
the corner to mail
his workshop
the door
his grandmother
your reviews
his office
the trees
the stairs
the rescue
12 pages
this house
The destination as indicated by the noun phrase following for can certainly be
viewed from the point of view of intended desired destination rather than simply the
end-point of a movement as would be the case with noun phrases following to. In (60),
(61) and (62), cover becomes the desired destination as a means to hide, perhaps for
60. He ran for cover when he saw this scruff on the doorstep, ' said Andy. (BNC: C88
61. Heart pounding with excitement, he barged through the door and into the dock,
where Germans both on the dockside and aboard the ships ran for cover,
beginning to open fire at the intruders. (BNC: FSR 2386)
62. People ran for cover (BNC: GVL 3525)
In the following oral quote taken from CBC radio about a description of an
explosion on a military ship the soldier describes his reaction and that of the other
sailors on board. Clearly the reason for the running is to survive the explosion, with it
representing the desired result, namely that of survival or escaping the fire in the
immediate area.
63.... opened the hatch and just ran for it... (CBC Radio)
And, in (64) and (65), door could be construed as an end-point, but also as a means of
escape and getting away:
64. But it's your night off; she hooted, as she ran for the door. (BNC: JY6 2967)
65. Ryker ran for the shattered back door, out into the driving rain and the darkness,
which suddenly seemed welcoming. (BNC: GOP 3027)
In the next example, ran to them expresses a very different idea from that which
would be expressed by for them:
66. Mr Hurkett said: I ran to them and saw the car being driven down the road.
(BNC: AJ6 139)
With to, the runner simply wants to end up at the same place as them; with for he
wants to grab them or do something to them.
4.2 To Crawl
TABLE 18: To Crawl
for + noun phrase
a sliver of light
his head
the water's edge
more than an hour
at least ten feet
three days
the exits
several rows
to + noun phrase
the other side
my jeans
the edge of the pool
his brother
the foot of the bed
the fallen sword
the front door
the edge of the floe
the gunwale
the center
a phone and called police
a long line of victims
the water
a cliff
us, him, her
the woman
the far corner of the large
the edge of the lagoon
the ground
each other and hugged
Noun phrases expressing destination are considerably more frequent after to
than after for: 112 vs. 12 occurrences. Of the examples with for below from COCA, both
(67) and (68) evoke the crawling as a means of movement towards uncertain survival.
In (67) the exits is not simply a destination but rather escape from harm, even death.
This is much the same impression with (68) where the sliver of light represents more
than destination, instead a much desired result, that of surviving.
67. BOB CAIN, Anchor The explosion hitjust after noon and shook the entire city
block. Fires erupted in the of the number one tower, and in seconds, thick, acrid
smoke shot through all 110 stories. Tens of thousands ofpeople were suddenly
trapped in the dark, searching for a way out Announcer I was at a desk and I seen
the flash coming toward me and I bent down, and the desk somehow landed on
top of me, so when the walls and stuff came down, it came on the desk and I just
crawled for the exits. BOB CAIN, Anchor Hours after the explosion, people were
still coming out of the towers. Some had to walk down 100 flights ; others were
trapped in elevators. Each had their own story of escape. SMITH And everybody
was stuck in the stairs ! I mean, everybody could have died. It's a lot of smoke.
You can't breathe. You can't breathe. BOB CAIN, Anchor How many floors did you
just come down ? SMITH A hundred andfive.(COCA)
68. We were all dancing away, some cheesy pop song," she said. We stopped and
looked at each other. ' What was that sound ?' We sort of laughed nervously and
carried on dancing. And withinfiveor 10 seconds, voom ! Your feet were just
sucked out from under you. I was lying on thefloor.Everything was black. It was
crackling with flames. She said herfriendshouted, "Don't panic ! Don't panic !"
But she panicked and crawled for a sliver of light, and she survived. Today,
dazed friends and relatives wandered the dim corridors of the 770-bed Sanglah
Hospital, the island's largest, looking for the missing. They hovered over the
narrow beds in hot, overcrowded wards, offering the only help they could by
waving small straw fans. Doctors murmured over bandaged patients with
blackened faces, trying to determine who they were and where they were from.
The following two examples from COCA, have similar noun phrase destinations.
However, in (69) the water's edge represents the place that the infant boy wanted to
reach, not necessarily his actual end-point destination, in contrast to (70), in which the
crawling is construed as a movement leading all the way to the edge of the lagoon:
69.Startled, the other woman broke into a white smile. Isabelle curtsied,
blushing at the absurdity of her gesture, which still somehow felt right
The black woman straightened, her hands on her hips, her full breasts
trembling as she threw back her head to laugh. Behind her, two small
children played on a strip offinesand. The infant boy was bare- naked,
his polished skin a rich iridescent black. Whenever he crawled for the
water's edge, the older child retrieved him. It was a sweet moment, and
the sun was warming on her back, but when she heard a bell begin to ring
in the town, Isabelle knew she had better return. "Kote m kab monte ?"
she asked, and the other woman smiled again, and turned to point further
down the stream, where Isabelle could see the foot of a much more feasible
trail than the one she'd descended (COCA)
70. Making a crude shelter by draping his tarp over a bush, he piled up drifted
seaweed for a bed and huddled with his dogs-he tucked the puppy into his
coat next to his chest-to weather the storm. "Man, that was a three-dog night,"
he recalls. He plucked the ducks, which the castaways ate raw for dinner.
Chewy, he thought, but not bad. By dawn the storm had abated. Shaking from
hypothermia, he set the puppy down between the two bigger dogs, then crawled
to the edge of the lagoon, where he managed to drop a spoonbill with a longish
shot. He spent the rest of the day spelling out SOS in seaweed and digging with a
plank of driftwood to try to free his boat Before high tide, Davis piled all his gear
and the dogs into the boat, hoping for a flood of water that never came. He
signaled with his army mirror at boats passing far offshore and once at a
marine patrol helicopter searching for illegal mullet fishermen. (COCA)
4.3 To Walk
TABLE 19: To Walk
for + noun phrase
hours ; a few minutes ; two days ; a long time
a mile ; miles
maintenance and defluffing nightly
to + noun phrase
the bathroom
the doorway ; door ; window ; stairs
his appointments
Unlike run for, in which noun phrases indicating destination can follow for, no
examples of noun destination following walk for were found in either the BNC or COCA.
Instead, destination was common and frequent with the preposition to, as indicated by
this typical example from the BNC.
71. Carolyn got up and walked to the window. (BNC: HJH 1172)
The most frequent noun phrase following walk for indicates either a temporal or
spatial extension of the walk, i.e. for hours or for miles.
4.4 To Wander
TABLE 20: To Wander
wandered for + noun phrase
a while under the climbing roses
wandered to ■r noun phrase
the window
the other end of the
her dress
the open door
his wife
the cavern's mouth
a window
the shelves
a very foreign county
the crumbling mansion
Significantly, no examples of noun phrases indicating desired destination were
found with wander + for. Wander means going about from place to place aimlessly or
without purpose and if for designates the purpose for the movement then it is to be
expected that a verb indicating purposeless movement would not be compatible with
On the other hand, to indicating where the subject ends up is compatible with
aimlessness, which corresponds to the impression observed in:
72. Henry wandered to the other end of the room. (BNC: ASS 2391)
73. He wandered to the shelves and came back thumbing through an old volume.
(BNC: H82 972)
These same observations can be applied to the next verb, to stray, where as expected
there are no noun phrases indicating destination after for as there are after to.
4.5 To Stray
TABLE 21: To Stray
a moment
strayed to
the glamour side of the business
the window,
the telephone
his gloved hand
the key
the child
Matthew's table
74. His hand strayed to the cigarette lighter. (BNC: HWN 3641)
75. Her hand strayed to the key that hung around her neck. (BNC : H94 1298)
In (76) below, the temporal noun phrase 'a moment' indicates the duration of the
'straying' giving the impression of 'thinking about' with the destination of the straying
following the preposition to.
76. Tyra's mind strayedfor a moment to an image she had seen two day watches
ago. (C OC A)
4.6 To March
TABLE 22: To March
marchedfor + noun phrase
several hours
the NAC against White and Corrie
thirty-four days
marched to + noun phrase
a nearby army camp
the US embassy
the door
the front desk
Turnham Green
the Guildhall
Holy Land
the defence of
the ground
the stadium
a different tune
the provincial party
South African
the office
the end of the hall
the classes
the workhouse
Destination is most often indicated by to, as would be expected; however, one
example was found with for, quoted below. While Athens is the desired destination
here, there is an impression of purpose (to capture Athens or to seek haven in Athens)
even if it is not explicitly stated.
77. The regiments reorganized, and through the heat of the day they
marched for Athens as fast as their feet could carry them. (BNC : G3C 535)
4.7 To Fly
TABLE 23: To Fly
flyfor + noun phrase
fly to + noun phrase
the first time
somewhere that takes your
their meal
the sheer thrill of flying
an impressive 139mph top
reasonably affordable rates speed
pleasure as well as business San Francisco
an hour
one reason or another
Hong Kong
all of us
Mombasa in Kenya
St Kitts
La Paz
business reasons
Dutch TV
New Delhi
a nearby mountain
the four winds
a boulder
The sense of the purpose or reason for the flying was frequently expressed by
the/or-phrase, as witnessed by the noun phrases 'the sheer thrill of flying' or 'fun'. No
examples of destination were found following/7y +for; instead destinations followed fly
+ to. This shows a certain semantic harmony between the meaning offlyand that of to,
with fly evoking the means of getting from point A to point B, and to the movement
leading towards an end-point, or in this case, arrival.
4.8 To Dash
TABLE 24: To Dash
for + noun phrase
to + noun phrase
the next bus
the door
the companionway
the canal
a dash for freedom
the kitchen
the corner to score
the Supreme Court
Gigant Street
a central London
an aid compound
the Oxfam shop
the family home
her two-year-old Brother
the rescue
a soccer match
the store near
a clearer part of the hall
the stairs
the Intermarche
the back of Danny's truck
Noun destination following dash + to was more frequent than with dash +for. In
the for vs. to pair with the two similar noun phrases below, there is an impression that
the subject of dashed in (78) may not have made it to the door, while (79) suggests that
the stairs were reached without hindrance:
78. Without any warning signs, she kneed him in the groin, and dashed for the door,
one flailing arm smashing a gas tap from the bench. (BNC: FSR 2499)
79. She dashed to the stairs. (BNC: GWG 2806)
Of note is the use of the noun dash with freedom, as in 'a dash for freedom' where
freedom may or may not be reached depending on obstacles or difficulties in the
movement towards the result.
No examples of 'a dash to freedom' or 'dashed to
freedom' were found in either the BNC or COCA, although they do seem theoretically
conceivable in a context where someone was fleeing across the border from a
totalitarian to a free state, and the destination is construed as having been reached.
4.9 To Rush
TABLE 25: To Rush
rushed for+noun phrase
the colonies (destination)
the post (mail)
the shelter of the riverbank
the nearest Vicar
134 yards (football)
the telephone
a place of vantage
his car
a slice of the stock market
rushed to+noun phrase
the rescue
the wheels
the rescue
the control tower
her aid
the Ruweisat Ridge
the scene to settle the girl
the rescue
the wire fence
hospital (>12x)
Frimley Park
the rescue
the telephone
the cockpit
her cheeks
the far end of a large
the rescue of the...
her head
the refrigerator
the door
the drawing-room
The notion of destination was more frequent with to; however, destination does
occur with for as well. The two examples below with identical noun phrases bring out a
slight difference in nuance which may help to shed light on for's potential meaning. In
(80) with for, there is a possibility that the person referred to did not reach the
telephone—most likely it was ringing, perhaps she ran out of time, or time may have
been an obstacle to reaching the phone. In the other example (81), with to, there is no
impression of the phone ringing, instead the phone is the destination or goal reached
by the rushing.
80. Fumbling with the latch key, she rushed for the telephone, thrusting the shopping
basket at Edward. (BNC: GOY 662)
81. Some reliable sources report that the President's wife, Mrsjihan, rushed to
the telephone to make some telephone calls to the United States. (BNC: FRL 1227)
The most frequent noun following to was hospital as indicated in the example
below. This supports the analysis of to's meaning as denoting a movement leading
towards an end-point, and given the meaning of rush and that of hospital there is a
certain compatibility between the three words.
82. In the evening, though, she rushed to hospital, where she picked Darian
up, his left arm in a cast (COCA)
5. Verbs of Bodily Movement
Included in this section are the following verbs: climb, reach, bend down, and
5.1 To Climb
TABLE 26: To Climb
climbed for* noun phrase
three or four hours
several minutes
a mile to get a perfect... view
good measure
an hour-and-a-half
climbed to+ noun phrase
the top (frequent use)
number three
a record level
the shelf
a more secure position
a new peak, up 18 points
the summit
a new standard of proficiency
the eyrie
mortality rate climbed to 130
thirteen guineas
the mountains
the roof
the next floor
No noun phrases of destination follow climbed for.
Climbing is a means
employed to get from point A to point B, and again, a certain semantic harmony is
observed between the verb and the preposition to, with to evoking the movement
leading towards an end-point
5.2 To Reach
TABLE 27: To Reach
for + noun phrase
the sky
it whenever I cook
the dictionary
the apparently impossible
the phone
your remote control
my gun
day trips
her pen
to + noun phrase
her bag
the table top
the shelf
the back seat
the stack of cans
a shelf
The noun phrases following for indicate a desired result of the movement of
reaching. In (83) therefore, 'the dictionary' was the desired result, with a view to using
it to check a word:
83. Ricardo shows great patience with me as I reach for the dictionary or, using a
book and his longfingers,he makes the rituals clear to me. (BNC: APC 2159)
However, in examples (84) to (87) with reach + to, the impression is that the
noun phrase following to is simply the destination of the reaching, or the end-point of
the movement of reaching.
84. As she reached to her bag for a cigarette, she realised that Linda was watching
her curiously. (BNC: 1937)
85. She placed the receiver down and reached to the table top, picking up the
silenced gun and holding it gently in both hands. (BNC: CE5 3292)
86. His mind a careful blank, he reached to the shelf over it and took down a small
plastic bag. (BNC: GUD 1256)
87. He reached to the back seat, and handed her a pretty carrier bag. (BNC: 2564)
5.3 To Scurry
TABLE 28: To Scurry
for + noun phrase
their places at table
the safety of the cottage
any food they found
to + noun phrase
the ship's blower, and shouted down it in fury
the postern
the door
In (88) scurry +for presents destination as an object of desire (i.e. something the
scurrier wants to achieve or possess), while in (89) scurry + to merely indicates the
88. Others dived and scurried for any food they found —; sometimes a speck of meat
from the eagles' own food, or perhaps the crumbsfromsome piece of bread that
the visitors to the Zoo wrongly threw in. (BNC: FP3 288)
89. He rounded the desk quickly, made an apologetic bow of his head to Nicolo,
frowned at Caroline, and scurried to the door. (BNC: JY7 1176)
5.4 To Bend Down
TABLE 29: To Bend Down
for + noun phrase
a closer look
to + noun phrase
my ear
the window
his briefcase
the letterbox
the plants
her cheek
A search on the BNC only gave one example of to bend down with for with a clear
impression offor designating the reason. The full quote is:
90. Dougal bent down for a closer look. (BNC: GUU 536)
The examples with to, on the other hand, evoke the end-point of the movement.
5.5 To Stoop
TABLE 30: To Stoop
for + noun phrase
a header
another soft kiss
the fallen slate
the waterlily bloom
his hat
the flashlight
to + noun phrase
the car window
our level of need
a new level of vicious scaremongering
The following are the full quotes from the BNC and COCA of to stoop occurring
with for. In all cases the /or-NP denotes the reason for the stoop rather than an end
destination as would be the case with stoop to.
91.47th minute: Arsenal skipper Tony Adams was unlucky to earn a booking for
dangerous play as Durie stooped for a header. (BNC : CBG 9756)
92. "Do you not know me after these few months? " " Exactly... " He stooped for
another soft kiss and backed away. " Good to see you, Arlene. " / / " You too, Dr.
Franklin." (COCA)
93. Looking up, he suddenly met his teacher's eye and stooped for the fallen slate.
94. Arms curved in front of her face, she stooped for the waterlily bloom and
straightened slowly to extend it on her palms - like a priestess offering a
sacrament before the altar. # " Douglas, " she called
"Receive the gift I've
prepared for you. " (COCA)
95. The cop was ready to go. He stooped for his hat on her coffee table. (COCA)
96. Nowhere for her to go. # He stooped for theflashlight,which she'd dropped." All
right, lady, " he said, and switched it on. # The light caught her for a glancing
instant, and that was all it took (C OC A)
5.6 To Slide
TABLE 31: To Slide
for + noun phrase
a second straight session
a fair distance on my belly
the last 15years
first base
second base
third base
■ ■
: : ■.
to + noun phrase
the side door
the wall above the counter
the far corner
the ground
the end of the rope
the far wall
a halt
the left
the other side of the highway
Noun phrases referring to temporal or spatial distance (the last 15years vs a fair
distance) were found with for, but outside of baseball references no examples of spatial
destination were found with for. Although to slide is a smooth, unobtrusive movement
involving continuous contact with a surface, the subject may have a destination in
mind, some of which are presented in the table above with the preposition to.
Interestingly, the only spatial destinations found with for are closely linked to result or
purpose. In baseball, to slide is no longer a smooth, unobtrusive movement, instead it is
a purposeful dive headfirst or feet first across the field in order to reach a base. This
movement is voluntary, being motivated by the desire to reach the base, hence in
semantic harmony with for.
From C OC A, the next two examples demonstrate how to slide can be an
involuntary movement in which the notion of purpose is excluded. C ertainly in (97)
the climbers did not voluntarily slide to their deaths, and in (98) an inanimate object is
without the faculty of making a voluntary choice.
97. An inactive volcano, it hasn 't erupted in more than 300years. It has, however,
claimed lives-most recently in December 1999, when three Russian climbers,
roped together for safety, slid to their deaths when one fell. While this suggests
most guys aren 't ready to hike up such an angry hill three-plus miles high you can
and should conquer smaller hills and mountains, And work your way up. (And up.)
98. She clutched the steering wheel and pounded on the pedals, but the car ignored
her. The boxy sedan slid to the left, moving like the needle on a haywire
tachometer. She bounced off the Jersey wall, spun around, slid to the other side of
the highway. For a moment it seemed as if she were the only one driving, as if all
the other cars and their drivers had frozen in deference and awe (COCA)
6. C oncluding Comments
Besides the comments made about individual verbs in the preceding pages,
further qualitative and quantitative analysis can be made with Tables 32 and 33 below.
The organization of Table 32 summarizes the data found with verbs of movement, in
which the subject is actually or possibly moving towards a spatial destination denoted
by a noun which is preceded by either for or to. To be noted is the fact that the verbs in
the first column, titled for predominantly', rarely occur with to denoting spatial
destination, while the verbs in the second column occur only with to denoting spatial
destination, and those in the third occur with either/or or to and a spatial destination.
TABLE 32: Occurrences o
for (predominantly) +
spatial destination
set out
set sail
For j To with Verbs of Movemen :
to (only) + spatial destination
bend down
both + spatial
With respect to the verbs in the for predominantly column, it is interesting to
observe that these verbs indicate the start of a journey or movement that is most likely
motivated by some reason or desired result. The movement is not simply leading
towards a terminus, but rather involves the abandonment of one's current position
with the goal of reaching a destination (the desired result). This resonates with
Jespersen's (1965: 257) observation that " ... the original meaning of for is 'in order to
obtain'." In other words, the destination is an object of a desire to be obtained, perhaps
as an instrument for some ulterior motive, e.g. reaching the destination could provide a
new life as in set sail for the New World. On the other hand, those verbs in 'to only'
category merely imply a movement from point A to point B leading towards a terminus,
as typically exemplified by the verb travel. With respect to the verbs in the third
column, further observations can be made by considering the frequency of using either
for or to. Table 33 below is representative of the frequency of occurrences as found in
both the BNC and COCA.
TABLE 33 : Frequency of Occurrence
(frequency of occurrence)
(frequency of occurrence)
set off
set sail
no noun
no noun
set out
no noun
no noun
The combination of verb +for + noun denoting destination is more frequent with
the following verbs: leave, set out, set sail, head, depart, set off. These verbs are
semantically linked with the notion of 'starting out', or the beginning of a subject's
movement, a movement initiated due to a reason or purpose. The significance of the
movement is closely linked to the purpose or the achieving of a result, but not
necessarily linked to the destination.
Indeed, no to-constructions denoting mere
destination were found with leave, or set out, and very few with set sail.
The combination of verb + to + noun denoting destination is more frequent with
the following verbs: run, crawl, dash, rush, scurry, swim. This is due to the fact that all of
these verbs denote various means of getting from one point to another, which gives
them a semantic affinity for being used with the preposition to.
It is significant that with verbs of movement purpose is associated with for and
not with to, (or at), and that the compatibility of for with verbs of movement is only
possible when the lexical sense of the verb does not exclude purpose. There are no
examples of noun phrases following/or with the verbs wander or stray, whose semantic
make-up excludes purpose.
Similarly, further corpus support that purpose is a
significant aspect of the messages conveyed by for with motion verbs was provided by
the fact that no examples of noun phrases expressing a purposive indicating
destination were found after the involuntary movement verbs slip or skid idea.
Chapter 5
Corpus Analysis: Future-Oriented Verbs
1. Preliminaries
The semantic notions evoked by the next group of verbs followed by for, be it
desire, request, effort or purpose, all imply a future-oriented, or forward looking
directionality, whether from a source or toward a goal. This produces a temporal
relationship in which the main verb's event is situated in time before the achieving of
the noun phrase object of for just as the present is situated in time before the future.
The verbs have been divided into the following categories:
A: Verbs of desire
B: Verbs of request
C. Verbs of effort
D. Verbs of purpose
2. Verbs of Desire
Excluded from analysis is the use of for as a complementizer as in the for +
subject + infinitive combination found in We hope for him to win. This use of for has
been treated separately in Chapter 3. Instead the focus of analysis here is on
intransitive verbs, whose semantic make-up evokes a sense of longing for a person or
object or hoping for an outcome. This sense of desire or longing may or may not
involve the action which must be taken by the subject to reach that which is desired or
longed for. In other words, the subject is motivated through desire towards a goal, with
for representing the movement leading to the achievement of the goal.
Another preposition sometimes used with this group of verbs is after, where
after evokes the idea of pursuit or quest of, as in run after them. The compatibility of
after with these verbs suggests a future-oriented relationship between the verb and
that which is desired or sought after. However, as will be demonstrated, for and after
are not always interchangeable.
The following table indicates the verbs covered in this section along with the
number of occurrences of the verb + for as indicated through the COCA electronic
search engine.
TABLE 34: Verbs of Desire and Frequency of Coccurrence with For/After
verb + after
# of occurrences
10 (temporal only)
2.1 To Crave
The excerpts taken from COCA reveal little or no difference between examples
that occur with or without for, as in (99) vs. (104), or (102) vs. (105). In the direct
object construction, the noun phrase represents that which is craved; in the forconstruction, it represents that into whose possession the craver would like to come.
A: Craved For
99. Participants considered these interventions incomplete and craved for
other intervention strategies that would account for their ruhi needs.
100. We were innocent and looking for direction. We craved for attention, and
searched for heroes. (COCA)
101. Mary Adams was aged nine, and her difference from Barbara Flint was
that, whereas Barbara craved for affection, (COCA)
102. Yesterday, myfriendsand I craved for so we looked for a great steak at
Shangrila mall. (Google)
103. / craved for more. I wanted more. (COCA)
B: Craved + D.O.
104. Can't you see I'm studyin'? " But the infant baboon craved attention. It
reached out and squeaked appealingly. Nelson sighed and gave in, all more
than that of his wife (COCA)
105. / was hungry, man. I craved red meat and lemonade, (COCA)
106. Trouble was, I wasn't interested in peace. I craved revenge. (COCA)
107. She craved something she could interact with; she craved contact. (COCA)
108.1 craved a totally stress-free pastime. (COCA)
109. But back in the mid-1970s, the Jackson 5 were teen sensations, and they
craved the control over their careers that Motown wouldn't give them
110. / craved argument but she didn 't answer (COCA)
111. After having no one with whom to share his experiences for so long, he
craved their company (COCA)
C: Craved After (no examples)
2.2 To Hanker
A: Hankered For
Examples (112) to (117) with hanker + for, or hanker + after are similar in
content, in that which is hankered for or desired is the goal or motivation of the subject.
112. a military academy appointment. Too much structure. The gregarious,
charismatic teenager hankered for what he called "the full college
experience." (COCA)
113. that in his heart of hearts he hankered for what was lost long ago or
maybe he never had, not bought for (COCA)
114. Still, deep in Theo's bones tradition pulled; he hankered for meaning and
purpose. He was troubled by Plato's notion of the artist-as-divinemoron (COCA)
B: Hankered After
115. He hankered after it even when he was near death, trying to believe that
its healing power (COCA)
116. took over the family business. This was not a success, perhaps because he
already hankered after an artistic career. He considered the possibility
of studying under the Strasbourg sculptor (COCA)
117. Many were enthusiastic amateurs without formal art training. No doubt
many hankered after the recognition accorded to academy artists or for
some other measure of appreciation (COCA)
In the next example, (118), hankered after evokes the impression of pursuit or
running after the monied farmers, whereas substituting for would give another
impression not quite compatible with the idea of pursuit — an impression of wanting
or desire, or motivation linked to reason and purpose.
118. In Canada the dominion government moved to develop its Hudson's Bay
land with the industry ofsmall farmers; in the United States railroad men
hankered after monied farmers to buy up their lands and develop a
railroad-dependent, staple export economy. (COCA)
2.3 To Hunger
Examples (119) to (124) of hunger + for evoke strong desire: that which is
hungered for is an object that the hungerer wants to obtain. This is also the case with
hunger + after, as in examples (125) to (128).
A: Hungered + For
119. The sibling trio was naturally nosy, but they also hungered for attention
from any obliging adult (COCA)
120. / complained, craving noisy guitars the way other nine-year-olds
hungered for candy. (COCA)
121. Americans hungered for geographical knowledge in keeping with their
new global responsibilities. (COCA)
122. Basically, I hungered for a taste of what the world's most grueling
sporting event really felt like (COCA)
123. like the plays of Shakespeare, O'Neill and Miller, in the same way Patton
hungered for battle. Like Patton, he was a man without a purpose
124. In Russia, where millions of soldiers had deserted and starving peasants
hungered for peace, revolution was brewing. And then into this chaos
came a Russian (COCA)
B: Hungered/hungers + After
125. on a dock with my first guitar aching for someone to sing to. I hungered
after it " " Would you play for us tonight? " (COCA)
126. the sun and rain and breeze "transmit " to me the random signals I
hungered after. I'd feel the story of the firelight on me in the dark (COCA)
127. Gephardt, in his early 60s, had come to a point in life when the House was
not a home. His reasoning was understandable - having hungered after
the White House for nearly two decades, (COCA)
128. The salamander dips himself in fire, the peacock hungers after serpents,
the ostrich swallows rock. (COCA)
2.4 To Pine
There is little significant difference between pine + for and pine + after, with for
and after being interchangeable in the examples below.
A: Pined For
129. Senators still pined for the days of the Republic, when they were the
biggest fish in the (COCA)
130. Thefriendsmoaned about their city and pined for the old days (COCA)
131. For four years, she had pined for her young daughter (COCA)
132. homely-gawky high school girl, a farmer's daughter, she'd pined for the
attention of just such boys (COCA)
133. As a foster child, I secretly pined for two things: Either my mother would
return or I would get adopted, (COCA)
B: Pines/Pined After
134. Georgiana pined after her betrothed, Captain Broadbent, who was away
on crown business (COCA)
135. Sidebar Parker pined after souvenirs from the set: clothes, books, a
poster and fab footwear (COCA)
136. Before, she had pined after men; now she dated them without need to
romanticize or indulge their shortcoming (COCA)
137. He called to mind a timeless American epic: In an ancient New England
tavern, men muttered madly about their quest to recapture the Whale.
Brad Kurtzberg can relate, and not just because he still pines after the
Golden Seals. (COCA)
2.5. To Thirst
In examples (138) and (139), thirst + for evokes strong desire in the same way
as the aforementioned verbs pine and hunger. The impression is that that which is
thirsted for is something that the subject of thirst desir5es to possess. This is also the
case with thirst + after, as in example (140), except that here the preposition implies
the notion of pursuit.
138. How she longed for, needed, thirsted for freedom. Ahmed Rashid's book
"Taliban" became a best-seller as readers thirsted for information about
a movement and a country that most of us knew little about (COCA)
139. American factories thirsted for strong young men willing to work long
hours without complaint, in exchange for (COCA)
140. Blessed are the Mapmakers..., " he said. " For they hunger and thirst
after righteousness, " they allfinished.Then they all fell to prayer
and singing.
2.6. To Hope
The OED defines hope as expectation and desire combined, e.g. for a certain
thing to occur. In (141) to (146), the noun phrase following/or represents that which
is desired or expected.
141. This was what it was all about now. They no longer hoped for miracle
cures or waited expectantly for the next bout of chemotherapy. (COCA)
142. We all hoped for a feast (COCA)
143. He bubble-wrapped it and hoped for the best (COCA)
144. We hoped for some kind of democratic transition. (COCA)
145. Conservative groups had prepared for Obama to pick a liberal but hoped
for a moderate such as Justice Stephen Breyer, a Bill C linton nominee
146. Israel welcomed Monday's releases and said it hoped for word on four
other missing soldiers (COCA)
2.7 To Long
A: Longed For
148. Sometimes Nathan longed for a job in Minnesota. Or Vancouver. (COCA)
149. She longed for rest. (COCA)
150. She longed for children, for a home of her own. She coveted Marc his three
little girls. Watched them as often as she could. (C OC A)
151. / both longed for and dreaded the first ultrasound. (C OC A)
B: Longed After
152. She was going to hurt over this departure, but this was what she had
longed after and prayed for for months. (COCA)
There seems to be no significant difference in the message conveyed by the sequences
long for and long after.
2.8 To Wish
The object following/or in the following examples is something the subject
wants to obtain, hence a prospective, future goal. By way of contrast, wish peace vs.
wish for peace, one can argue peace is the actual content of wish in wish peace, while
peace is something the wisher desires to obtain in wish for peace.
153. Roger glowered at the door and wished for a good, oldfashioned crowbar.
154. Wallace wished for a flashlight (COCA)
155. She wished for a motorcycle, or even an ordinary bicycle (COCA)
2.9 To Yearn
Similar to wished for, the object following for in yearned for is something the
subject wants to obtain or strongly desires. A small difference with to yearn after is
that in (160) through (163) that which is yearned is not necessarily obtainable, unlike
with yearn + for where one gets the impression that that which is yearned for is
A: Yearned + For
156. / often yearned for those simpler times (COCA)
157. he still yearned for his television, and still regretted missing the game
158. / took a 30-day retreat because 1 yearned for silence and solitude. (COCA)
159.1 yearned for Bombay and its warm, insipid winter. (COCA)
B: Yearns /yearned + After
160. For everything that Modotti yearned after in her photographs, Weston
sought to overcome in his: most particularly (COCA)
161. a patch of sunlight with the net and the cage beside him. His eyes
yearned after the bill as Betty returned it to her wallet. (COCA)
162. indescribable forces not to be spoken of, never to be understood, but
forever yearned after with their confused destruction fulfillment. He was
burning with it, he was (COCA)
163. one quote from a critic that struck me as particularly pointed: " Marcel
yearns after a kind of mystical communion, with an individual, or with a
group (COCA)
3. Verb of Request: appeal, ask, bargain, beg
The verbs of request involve the idea of interaction between a speaker and an
interlocutor with a view to getting something. In other words, there is interaction
leading towards potential acquisition. The following verbs evoke this idea with varying
degrees of intensity and success in getting the desired object. While for occurs with
these verbs frequently, there are other prepositions sometimes evoking similar
expressive effects and at other times evoking impressions quite different from that of
3.1 To Appeal
Appeal +for in examples (164) to (166) below expresses a formal request aimed
at the achievement of the noun phrase object of for. There is a temporal relationship
between the verb appeal and that which is requested, in that the appeal is situated in
time before that which is requested. For provides the link between the appeal and that
which is being requested in the form of movement towards a desired result or
164. Iraq's prime minister appealed for national unity even as he celebrated
the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops (COCA)
165. In the past six months, the administration increasingly has appealed for
more outside help,financiallyand militarily. (COCA)
166. The United Nations has appealed for $35 million in emergency aid for
Haiti. (COCA)
Appeal + to in the next examples, evokes a formal request that targets a specific
recipient, as in (167) - (169) below. The reason for the request, as in (167) and (169),
can be expressed by a /or-phrase. With to, the impression is that of a completed
movement such that in examples (167) to (169) the noun phrase following to is the
recipient of the appeal; with for, on the other hand, it is not known whether that which
was appealed for was achieved or obtained.
167. We appealed to private therapists to seek institutional help for any
patient who fit the description-and advise (COCA)
168. At $13.95, the book appealed to me like many books do (COCA)
169. made a composite drawing based on what neighbors had seen, then
appealed to the public for help identifying the unknown man. (COCA)
3.2 To Ask
As attested by the 6640 examples found on COCA, ask followed by for is a very
common usage evoking the sense of 'in order to obtain'. Without for in the following
examples (170 to 172) the sentences would be nonsensical. Thus for establishes the
link between ask and the sense of seeking to obtain. There is the same impression in
She asked for me in that me is what is wanted; however, without for another sense is
evoked. She asked me would expresses direct verbal contact with me, unlike with for, in
which there is no verbal contact.
170. she asked for a rum and Coke (COCA)
171. Like most Iranians, he asked for anonymity to discuss the subject, (COCA)
172. The provincial governor asked for U.S. military help, (COCA)
Other prepositions besides for, that occur with ask include after and about, both
of which express the idea of'inquire regarding'. The impression of'in order to obtain'
remains with for.
173. Khaled, hunched in a lazy posture behind the counter, returned the
greeting and asked after her parents. (COCA)
174. The consultants greeted me warmly and asked after my research,
particularly the process of urbanization unfolding in this historical city.
3.3 To Bargain 1
Examples (175) and (176) are typical of the expressive effect of bargain + for.
Here bargaining is construed as negotiation whose goal is the obtaining of the referent
of the NP object of the preposition for. If the desired object is actually obtained through
the negotiation, it can also be construed as that which was bargained, as in (177) and
175. To get farther afield, I bargained for rides on the back of motorbikes,
176. Through a series of gestures and pen scribbles we bargained for two
cards and a landscape ofTai Hu lake area (COCA)
177. The Oregon troopers were going to take him to jail, but he bargained a
deal to sell the spuds under cost until he reached legal weight. (COCA)
178. We bargained a third shift in Chrysler 1993, who (ph) brought 1,600 in
the community of Windsor. # So you can - you can correlate the
bargaining agenda and the - and the job creation. I mean it's a matter of
challenging the corporations what they can do. (COCA)
3.4 To Beg
Similar to ask for, is beg for, in that the underlying sense of this combination is a
stronger need of 'in order to obtain'.
179. The bearer begged for death, for an end to the pain (COCA)
180. He begged for water (COCA)
To negotiate, a close synonym to bargain, exhibits the same pattern of use with for.
181. So last year I begged for a job (COCA)
The difference between the next two examples is that in (182) it is known
from the context that the forgiveness was not obtained, while in (183) the forgiveness
is construed as being begged and perhaps given in an 'overwrought imagination'.
182. Stay right here, " Kevin said. "Don't worry. You don't have to tell me
twice. " I leaned against my car and watched him enter the house as he
drew his firearm. That long-ago summer Kevin had begged for my
forgiveness, but I'd been young and hurt, and I hadn't been willing to
listen to him. Two months after I'd left for college, he'd married Marybeth
in a hastily arranged wedding, and seven months after that his son had
been born. (COCA)
183. /// were to be convicted, I thought (only in the most romantical way,
since I no more anticipated a conviction than that I should be elected
Lord Mayor), I should only want her to come and cry at my feet, tell me of
her regrets. I wanted her teary kisses on my face. I wanted her hands, raw
and coarse with wringing, to take mine as she begged my forgiveness
and pleaded to hear my vows of love repeated a hundred times. These
were, I knew, mere fantasies of an overwrought imagination. (COCA)
In any case, when the desired object is actually obtained by means of begging,
only the transitive construction can be used:
184. Susan begs thirty dollars off him; taking money feels like a dirty thing to
do, but she needs the cash. (COCA)
4. Verbs of Effort: strive, try, struggle, labor
The noun phrases following for indicate a desired result to which the effort
expressed by the verb is directed. This is similar to the sense expressed when these
verbs occur with to + infinitive, where, as argued in Duffley (2006: 57), these verbs
"involve the notion of making an effort, and to + infinitive expresses the goal of the
effort." Indeed, Duffley even states that "a similar notion to that expressed by the
infinitive can also be evoked by a prepositional phrase with for or after, both of which
also express the idea of a goal." (58)
In the sampling of attested examples below with strive, try, struggle and labor,
evoking 'making an effort' directed towards a desired result, it is possible to view for as
evoking the before/after relationship in much the same way that to evokes the
before/after relationship between effort and goal with respect to try to, or strive to, etc.
This close parallel between for and to with verbs of effort is further confirmation of the
closeness in meaning between these two prepositions. The difference between for and
to will be explored in the discussion of the examples below.
4.1 To Strive
The combination of strive + for evokes the idea of trying hard or making an
effort towards the noun phrase object of for. In example (185), bragging rights is that
which the subject wants to acquire or obtain.
185. We strived for bragging rights. (COCA)
The desired results, especially in examples (186), (187) and (188) below, are however
not necessarily attainable, suggesting that they are not an end-point to which the
subject moves. In example (187), 'regular-guy status' is not attainable for Mrs. Clinton
given her status and position. In (188), not everyone will get to 'those upper floors'
despite trying hard; however there does seem to be a level of purposeful planning,
which supports one of for's main expressive effects, that of purpose. In (186), striving
for the best seems to suggest 'purposeful planning' with a view to climbing the
corporate ladder.
186. She always strived for the best. She was trying to climb that corporate
187. It was pointed out that when Hillary Clinton recently strove for regularguy status by knocking back whiskey with a beer chaser in Indiana, she
188. Everyone strove for graduation to those upper floors.
Examples (189) to (192) with the verbs struggle and labour all involve the
notion of making an effort towards the referent evoked by the prepositional object, be
it air, balance, peace or integration.
4.2 To Struggle
189. chest burned and a sharp pain knifed through his ribs with every breath.
He struggled for air as darkness began to close in around him. Sounds
grew muffled. (COCA)
190. stepped backward, and as he did his leg shot from under him. He
struggled for balance, then lost it His rod was wrenched from his grasp
as (COCA)
4.3 To Labor
191. While European diplomats labored for peace, Tilly's men still had to be
fed, clothed and punctually (COCA)
192. by people who prey on the elderly. If ever a town labored for
integration, it is Montclair. (COCA)
4.4 To Try
The use of for with the verb try is the most frequent combination found in the
COCA database search with respect to the verbs of effort studied in this group (629
examples). The expressive effect of the combination of try + for + preposition noun
object is that of a desired result, which the subject wants to obtain or achieve by means
of effort.
The effort made by the subject may or may not lead towards the
achievement of the desired result as indicated by (195) with respect to 'a cheerful
193. Claybourne's face as if the poet had treated his cheeks with menthol.
Claybourne tried for a shrug over the effects of the chemical on his skin
194. "He tried for sarcasm but heard his voice sounding more puzzled than
anything else." (COCA)
195. He tried for a cheerful note but knew he'd failed when the girls stared at
him. (COCA)
In his analysis of try + to infinitive Duffley (2006: 60) argues that "try does not
denote effort inherently but merely contributes to expressing this notion when used in
combination with certain other lexemes, among these that of the to introducing the
When complemented by the infinitive, to is construed as a movement
potentially leading to the actualization of the infinitive's event Combined with a matrix
verb expressing the idea of effort, the message conveyed is that of the effort being
directed towards achieving the actualization of the event denoted by the infinitive.
This is very similar to the impression conveyed by for + a déverbal noun as in (193),
which can be seen by the fact that the to-infinitive to shrug could be substituted here
without affecting the message conveyed by the utterance substantially.
5. Verbs of Purpose
The next group of verbs involves the notion of purpose in their semantic makeup. 'Purpose' is defined by Webster's (1991: 957) as "something set up as an object or
end to be attained: INTENTION." The intention to achieve, an object for example, for
various reasons may or may not involve a plan or aim. This implies a future-oriented,
or forward-looking directionality, whether from a source or toward a goal, and, as with
the aforementioned verbs, produces a temporal relationship between the main verb's
event and that of the noun phrase object of for. The specific verbs under consideration
here are:fish,hunt, aim, campaign, forage, look, watch, apply,fight,grope, and wait. The
object of for specifies a desired result of an action, or what someone is trying to obtain,
with the reasons sometimes being clearly stated.
5.1 To Fish
The noun phrase following for in examples (196) and (197) specifies that which
the subject hopes to obtain with the possibility of success being felt to be more likely in
example (197) than example (196). Example (198) indicates an activity of fishing
without any indication as to what the subjects were hoping to catch, instead there is
just an impression of an activity that may or may not involve fish. The use of for as in,
he fished for the lake, sounds semantically incoherent as it would convey the
impression of looking for a lake by means of an action analogous to fishing. No
examples were found on COCA offishfor the lake, or fish for the ocean, orfishfor the
river. Example (199) with fish + D.O. does not express that which the subject hopes to
obtain, but instead the noun specifies that which the subject removes from his sling
bag, an impression quite different from the use with for in which there would be the
possibility of not obtaining that which the subject wants.
196. Asked why he fished for trout, Voelker replied that he liked to be where
trout were. (COCA)
197. Hobart stood up and fished for his keys. (COCA)
*He fished his keys.
198. In high school, when he fished the lake with twinfriends,they attached a
wagon. (COCA)
*He fished for the lake.
199. He fished a stone out of his sling bag and place it on the counter. (COCA)
Example (200) below presents an interesting contrast to example (196) with
respect to the presence or absence of for. As stated, the presence of for evokes a
movement leading towards a desired result: in the case of (196) trout is the desired
result of the action of fishing, a result that is hoped for but that may or may not occur.
Without for, as in (200), the impression is that the noun trout specifies the object of the
activity of the fishing.
200. "He fished trout from the time he was almost able to walk," He fished
trout using grasshoppers; he only likedfishingby himself or his friends.
5.2 To Hunt
Hunt +for is similar to fish +for in that the noun phrase following/or represents
that which the subject hopes to obtain or acquire with the result of the hunting being
the acquisition of worms in (201), or the correct word in (202), or appealing locations
(203) or gold (204). There is an impression in these examples of looking for or seeking
out. With the exception of example (201), for is essential to the message that is being
evoked: without for the sentences would be ungrammatical because words, or locations,
or gold cannot be pursued or killed. On the other hand, in examples (205) to (207)
with hunt + D.O. there is an impression of the direct object being hunted.
201. When I woke up, I caught a little mosquito, then hunted for worms in the
grass. (COCA)
202. He hunted for the correct word, sucking in his cheeks as he did so
203. He hunted for appealing locations- Colorado's mountains, Florida's
waterfronts (COCA)
204. In the summer he hunted for gold, (COCA)
205. Marcus grew up inside the wall, and the mountain was his playground. He
hunted squirrels and rabbits and climbed Taos Mountain, which is
sacred. (COCA)
206. He also made a point of explaining that he hunted wild animals mostly to
photograph them, and though on an emotional level Cate approved
207. She twisted out of his embrace and locked herself in the bathroom. He
hunted her, banging at the door, threatening violence (COCA)
5.3 To Fight
In examples (208) to (210) below, the noun phrase object of for evokes that
which the subject is trying to achieve or obtain. In these examples for is essential to
the overall message; indeed without for these sentences would be ungrammatical in
that one can fight for space or fight for breath but not fight space or fight breath.
However, another impression arises in example (211), in which the subject fought on
behalf of the Red Army in contrast to example (212) in which the Pakistani Army is that
which the subject fought, just as war is that which was fought in (213) and fire in (214).
The absence of for with fight evokes the idea of adversary. Nonetheless, one could
imagine a group of poXiticians fighting for a war as an objective, or fighting for afire as a
way to remove unwanted contaminated material.
208. The pilot fought for control as the helicopter bucked, shuddered, and
209. Alison had said as she and her sister fought for space in front of the tiny
bathroom mirror
210. Todd fought for breath.
211. you didn't talk so much about the fact that you fought for the Red Army,
even for a week.
212. reinforced by seasoned fighters from the tribal areas with links to Al
Qaeda, fought the Pakistani Army to a standstill, said a Pakistani
intelligence agent
213. She fought a war to evict the Argentineans from the Falklands
214. 39-year-old Capt Grady Burke died after a ceiling collapsed as he fought
afire inside another southeast Houston home
5.4 To Grope
Grope is defined as 'to feel about or search uncertainly' and readily occurs with
for and a noun phrase object designating the goal, or that which the subject wants to
obtain as a result of the groping. Examples (215) and (216) are typical of grope + for;
however, example (217) without for designating the noun phrase as something
touched in a groping manner gives another, quite different impression. In (217) the
contusions were felt or touched, unlike in (215) where the pepper spray did not come
into contact with the subject. The use of for with grope evokes the notion of making
groping motions with the goal of grabbing, unlike grope + D.O., where the sense evoked
is that of feeling, or touching. The absence of for with grope conveys the idea of the
direct object being affected directly.
215. She groped for the tube of pepper spray but couldn't find it amid all the
junk. (COCA)
216. She groped for the phone as she struggled upright, then flipped the
phone open. (COCA)
217. After a minute or two, he groped the contusions on his head. (COCA)
5.5 To Forage
In examples (219) to (222) for provides the link between the verb, forage, and
that which is being sought after, namely, the referent of the noun phrase, in (219),
clues, or in (220), food, or (221), firewood and in (222) sticks. In these examples, the
noun phrase is purposefully being sought after for various specific reasons. In other
words, it seems the speaker knows precisely what he/she is looking for. In example
(223) without for, that which is foraged is understood to be obtained by means of
219. Insanely, pathologically jealous, he watched for tell-tale signs on her
clothes, he foraged for clues in her handbags ...(COCA)
220. They foraged for food and faced the sure death of oncoming winter...
221. Over theyears, he's worked in a mine and foraged for firewood to sell
222. On the following day they foraged for sticks for the water shelters.
223. ... grandfather got a hankering for some cake and wrote his mother about
it He played it smart and asked her to send him the ingredients and he
would bake the cake himself. Grandfather's mother complied and shipped
along the ingredients:flourand sugar, molasses, spices, raisins, dried fruit
and various kinds of nuts. Other ingredients grandfather foraged
locally, especially eggs, which had to be obtained from unhappy
Confederate hens. (COCA)
5.6 To Aim
The examples of aim + for in (224) to (226) are typical cases of choosing a place
that the speaker wants to reach, either literally (the beach or the wharf) or figuratively
(the hearts). In (226) there is the impression of trying to win over and not just hitting a
target, as would be the case with at. In examples (227) to (229), the purpose of the aim
is trying or hoping to achieve something, be it the smoky black-and-white flavor in a
movie, self-government, etc. The combination aim + for + noun phrase object evokes
more than just a target, as is the case with aim + at; instead, there is an impression of a
desire to achieve something and not just arriving at a particular location.
224. He aimed for a sliver of beach along the river's south bank, (COCA)
225. Charlie jumped onto the boat, and Joe pushed forward on the throttle, he
aimed for the wharf across the harbor. (COCA)
226. / aimed for the hearts of those who listened. (COCA)
227. Steven Soderbergh aimed for the smoky black-and-white flavor of
Casablanca and The Third Man. (COCA)
228. Social reformers aimed for self-government (COCA)
229. Architects aimed for the feel of a little city in a big building (COCA)
Example (230) brings out the impression that 'a pro football career' is not just a
target but instead a preferred life-path direction opposed to the option of taking over
the family business. The ulterior motive behind aiming for a football career is specified
in the sentence by means of the to-infinitive to escape.
230. To escape the family business, he aimed for a pro football career but was
too small to make the team (COCA)
The use of at with aim is far more frequent, with 8000 + examples in COCA vs.
148 with for. The sense of something directed or targeted is more typical of at, as can
be seen with examples (231) to (234).
Unlike aim + for, there is no impression of
'hope' or the desire to achieve something as a means to an end; instead that which is
aimed at is simply a target which the aimer wants to hit, i.e. to make contact with.
231. Pat was reloaded and standing. He aimed at the head and hit the jaw.
232. a dueling pistol appearing suddenly in her hand. She aimed at a rat
which was skulking in shadow toward the stables. (COCA)
233. He dropped his parka on the snow as he aimed at the hole in the ice.
234. While Walton's competitors conquered the cities and suburbs, he aimed
at rural America. It turned out to be brilliant strategy. (COCA)
Examples (235) to (237) below with for do not give the impression of simply
making contact with a target. Indeed in (235) contact is to be avoided with the next
wicket, the object of the game (croquet) being for the ball to go through the wicket.
Here the result of hitting the wicket could lead to losing the game, so the wicket is not
the target. The result hoped for, or being aimed for, is getting the ball through the
wicket so as to have an advantage over the other players and hopefully win the game.
In (236), 'that roof is not a target, but instead a goal the person jumping wishes to
attain as a means of escape from death, just as the far corner in (237) is something the
subject wants to reach, not merely to hit Reaching the far corner is a desired result
which may provide the means for escape. Furthermore, unlike the targets denoted by
the at-constructions above, here there is an impression of hope or desire, as if the
subject may not make it to the roof or the far corner, or through the wicket.
235. she lifted her sandaled foot, set it down on her own red ball, and swung as
hard as she could against it The yellow ball shot out, spun quickly across
the flat lawn, then rolled twenty feet or so down the incline toward the
driveway. There was an abrupt silence behind Lainey. Then Sam said, "
Good Lord! Killer croquet! " " Gee, Lainey, what'd 1 ever do to you? " Pete
asked. He sounded genuinely plaintive. Lainey didn't answer. With
careful, grim pleasure, she aimed for the next wicket The ball rolled
steadily but came to rest just in front of it (COCA)
236. The helicopter loses control... Voiceover... and just starts shaking violently.
Helicopter-crashin Mr-TORRES: And a light goes on on the panel, which
means something's wrong. And a siren, 1 clearly heard a siren as well. And
then I looked over and I saw Russ talking to the tower at JFK and
telling them that we were in trouble... Voiceover... and struggling with the
controls. So we found a roof and he aimed for that roof. We went down
and I saw this roof getting bigger and bigger. And kind of a funny thing
was... JFK-tower -helicop Mr-TORRES:... even though I knew that we were
in deep, deep trouble, I leaned forward and turned off my microphone
because I didn' t want my screaming to go out over the air. Voiceover And
then I saw a chimney and I thought, oh, boy, we' re going to hit that
chimney (COCA)
237. They were on to him -- that much was a given - and he had to get out of
there fast. Lumbering and heaving, his knees screaming, he aimed for the
far corner. If he could get around the corner and up the street out of view
before they caught up with him, he'd be safe. (COCA)
5.7 To Apply
Examples (238) and (239) below are typical of the sense of making a request
with a view to obtaining either first-time benefits or a loan through an application. In
other words, by means of an application as implied in the sense of apply there is
something to be achieved which is designated by the noun phrase following for. The
difference between (239) and (240) is that apply + for evokes the notion of a desire of
the applier to obtain that which is applied for, while apply + to gives the impression of
connection or association of the findings to both women and men.
238. The Labor Department says 637, 000 people applied for first-time
benefits. (COCA)
239. Those who wanted help applied for loans. (COCA)
240. Thesefindingsgenerally applied to both women and men, (COCA)
In example (241) below with apply to, there is the impression of sending in an
application, with a college being the destination of the application. However, with for
one would have the impression of achieving admission to the college as the goal of the
241. Rose applied to a college far away where no one knew what to expect of
her, (COCA)
5.8 To Campaign
Campaign is a verb that occurs with for expressing a desired result, or what is
pursued by means of the campaigning, such that in (242) self-determination is what the
Cubans were hoping to obtain by means of campaigning, just as in (243) 'votes' is the
reason why the inspector was campaigning in the snow.
242. Cubans who peaceably campaigned for self-determination, (COCA)
243. bearded environmental inspector campaigned for votes in the snow,
Another impression arises with (244) to (246), where the subject of the verb is
campaigning in place of, or in support of the noun phrase object of for. There is an
impression of working for, or in favour of, the noun phrase object, i.e. political leaders,
or President Bush, etc.
Example (247) evokes another impression in that the
campaigning is not in support of someone, but rather implies a desire to obtain the job
of president
244. the political process and bring in those who were in political power, and he
campaigned for political leaders, including Lyndon Johnson, because he
wanted somebody in the White (COCA)
245. / campaigned for President Bush there in 2000 and 2004. (COCA)
246. We saw how passionately he campaigned for her in 2008. (COCA)
247. So Barack Obama campaigned for president, (COCA)
Examples (248) and (249) provide a contrast of being/or or against something.
248. an organization that campaigned for disarmament and a freeze on
nuclear testing. (COCA)
249. He campaigned against them and got rid of them. (COCA)
Perhaps the most significant contrast arises with the preposition on with
examples (250) and (251) being typical of uses with campaign.
250. He campaigned on pledges to block construction along rivers and a
major reservoir, (COCA)
251. Schwarzenegger campaigned on a promise not to raise taxes last year
The following table is a sampling of the noun phrase objects following both on
and for. The impression that arises with on is that the noun phrase object is theme of
the campaigning or that on which the campaign is based.
For example, the noun
phrase 'a platform' even suggests a type of abstract support providing the base or
support of the campaigning, while the noun phrase objects following for gives the
impression of what the campaigners want to achieve or to do.
TABLE 35: Campaign +On/For+ noun phrase object
campaigned on
campaigned for
a platform
the issue last fall
the type of health care reform
the premise
one theme
fighting the war on terror
reinstating the death penalty
a promise not to raise taxes
vigorous enforcement of the immigration
pledges to reap more from foreign
neighborhood revitalization
raising the minimum wage
the need for change
a humble foreign policy
free markets and free trade
prescription drugs for seniors
a bike lane to be added
a new investigation
a cure
a law for Washington
a permanent seat on the Security
a certain issue
a return to power
a more cautious approach to unification
a tough state handgun control law
an independent judiciary
the preservation of Mt McKinley
the position
his parole
street improvements
women's suffrage
A COCA search revealed that the noun phrases that occurred with on did not
generally occur with for, except for the parallel structures with the noun issue
illustrated in (252) and (253) below.
The interesting difference is with respect to the
definite article and indefinite articles. If on evokes the idea of a type of abstract
support, similar to on the table then the definite article helps to define the support or
the basis of the campaign. However, a certain issue in (253) is not the basis of the
campaign; instead the impression evoked is the idea of being in favour of a certain
252. One opponent feeling the heat actually campaigned on the issue that he
is a better feminist than Feinstein. (COCA)
253. Have you ever been asked to speak out on a social or political issue? CE:
I've only spoken out in forums or interviews. I've never gone out and
stumped for a certain issue, campaigned for a certain issue. Except for
my experience in the Carmel government PT: Why? CE: Because 1 either
didn't feel that strong about a topic or there were feelings about it that I
wanted to wrap up in my brain before I did something like that I'd have
to be pretty well sold on the subject (COCA)
5.9 To Wait
The verb wait implies remaining inactive for a specified period of time or until
some expected event occurs. That wait + for occurs frequently, with 4000 plus
examples found on COCA, indicates a close semantic relationship between these two
words, with for frequently indicating the desired result of the wait. The table below is a
sampling of noun phrase objects that occur with wait+for.
TABLE 36: Waited + For + Noun Phrase Objects
waited for + object
a whistle
Palmer's reply
the thumbs-up
a reply
a response
the doctor
the police
his brother's reaction
her son's return
an answer
Noun phrases following wait are always introduced by for except for temporal
expressions: in COCA, waited a moment had 146 hits and waited for a moment had 31
hits, waited hours had 17 hits, while waited for hours had 34 hits. Given the semantic
notion of wait as being inactive for a period of time it comes as no surprise that the
preposition for is not required to express the time contained in the event of wait.
However, when for does occur is there any discernable difference in the expressive
effect that could help in determining for's role in the sentence? Even though the verb
to cry will be examined more thoroughly in the next chapter with verbs of speech, it is
worth observing that in contexts such as (254) to (255), there would be a slight nuance
of difference between cry +for + noun temporal phrase vs. cry + noun temporal phrase.
In examples (254) and (255), the temporal expressions, 2 hours and 2 hours/45
minutes, evoke the duration of the crying and there seems to be particular emphasis on
the duration, even an indication of frustration, as expressed by the capitalization of the
word SUPER in (254). As well, the precise time of 2 hours and 45 minutes seems to
point to the length of the crying, needless to say, particularly difficult for those listening
who, it would be assumed, would be very aware of the time within the event of'crying'.
However, in examples (256) and (257) without for, the impression evoked by the
sentences is more that of 'keeping score' or 'tabulating' the occurrences of the crying,
i.e. 2 hours each night or 2 hours one night, the next 1 hour, etc. Here, the impression is
more that of total amount cried, or a focus on the total number of times of crying rather
than one of à duration extending through time.
254. He was SUPER fussy after birth though, he cried for 2 hours. (COCA)
255. Owen cried for 2 hours and 45 minutes, then fell asleep. For half an
hour. But still, he did it (COCA)
256. My first slept 2 hours, cried 2 hours, repeat for the first few weeks of his
life. Each of the two hour cycles started and ended (COCA)
257. She cried 2 hours. The next night 1 hour and after that she did not cry for
it again. (COCA)
The differences observed in the last 4 examples with the verb to cry can also be
applied to examples (258) and (259) below: in (258) the impression is one of duration,
while (259) evokes an experiment in which the total amount of time is more important
than the actual duration, the 2 hours being a precisely calculated amount in an
experiment on 'muscle glycogen.'
258. A large man in a shiny suit put his hands on Mom's wrists and said,
"Ma 'am, come with me. " He saw me on the sidewalk. # "Is she with you?" We
both thought he was talking to me, so I said, "She's my mom. " I stared at his
gun, bulging like an extra heart beneath his jacket. # The lady cop in the
police station bought me M & Ms; and Starbursts from the machine. I waited
for three hours. Mom called Dad, even though he was about to marry
Maureen. He wired money and a note. (COCA)
259. In a study, two groups of cyclists were exercised to exhaustion. One
group drank a carbohydrate replacement drink immediately after
exercise and the other group waited 2 hours. Analysis of muscle tissue
showed that the riders who reloaded immediately after the workout
produced muscle glycogen at a rate 50 percent higher than the group that
waited. (COCA)
Examples (260) and (261) below give the impression of intentionality as in a
calculated moment or a planned moment rather than an indication of the time in the
260. You didn't make me. I did it on purpose." He waited for a moment, as if
expecting an answer. Then he took a deep (COCA)
261. The guards departed, leaving the cell door open. # The prisoner waited
for a moment, then began tearing off the wrapping paper and the gift was
The bare noun construction would give a slightly more objective impression here,
describing the amount of time the wait lasted with no reference to the waiter's
Nonetheless, in most instances with or without for + a temporal expression
there is no discernable difference in meaning and it may even be possible to argue that
intentionality may be present without/or in (262) to (264) below.
262. She waited a moment, holding her breath, but nothing happened. (COCA)
263. The couple waited a few years before redesigning the kitchen. (COCA)
264. Early in the year I waited 37 days for a reserve copy of Allen Raymond's
"How to Rig" (COCA)
The use of for with wait does seem to bring to the message a greater focus on the
duration however.
This is further illustrated by examples (265) to (267) below in
which 'wait a minute' barely evokes a pause. Moreover, in (265) and (266) the
impression is one of interruption, and not duration, because the speaker simply wants
the addressee to stop talking and listen to his contrary opinion. Example (267)
conveys the impression of a temporal gap between the actions of the subject (I) and
Allison. What is important is the existence of a certain lapse of time between the two
actions. The use of for would seem too durational in these three examples, where the
focus is on the time lapse, or on stopping someone from continuing what they are
saying, rather than on the duration of the wait.
265. But don't make-don't make me defend something I never said. MrZIEGLER: No, but that is the perception. And you know-and, Matt, as far
as you, I thought your coverage was pretty good. Except I think you and
Barack... LAUER: It doesn' t--you wouldn' t know that from what you just
said for the last few minutes. Mr-ZIEGLER: Wait a minute, hold on a
second. I do think, though, that you and Barack had no problem being in
each other' s personal space quite a bit You seemed to be getting along
pretty well, and I doubt that you would... LAUER: 1 apologize for that,
John. I got along with the guy. I apologize for that, John. (COCA)
266. Good fences make good neighbors. "Wait a minute, what's wrong here?
Consider the real gap: fences have holes and are not walls. Folk sayings
may be riddled with mischief. (COCA)
267. Allison asks for her room number. ALLISON: What room am I in? CLERK# 1: Seven thirty-two. ALLISON: What is that? CLERK-# 1: Seven thirty- two.
ALLISON: Okay. Thank you. CLERK: Thank you. D AN1EL-S1EBERG:
Falkenberg says the clerk should've been more discreet about her room
number, only writing it down or whispering it. Allison then heads to her
room. 1 wait a minute and go right to room seven thirty-two. No one
notices anything. Someone has a room number, they don't have a key,
obviously. They have to still get in the door. So theyre going to make up
some story. What should somebody do? CHRIS-FALKENBERG: Theytheyre going to use a pretext to get in. (COCA)
Another interpretation can be observed in example (268) with the expression 'a
moment' which is not an expression of duration but instead a goal being aimed at by
the subjects.
268. All during the meal we talked about our escape. Near our table there
were steps that led up into the restaurant We could reach the steps
quickly and go inside, but the wall on that side was all glass. We'd have to
pass the Crossmans' table, and if they turned their heads they could see
us through the glass. She'd be the one with the best view, but if he noticed
movement he might turn and see us. # We paid the bill and waited for a
moment when they'd be distracted. When she leaned over to look for
something in her purse we made our move. (COCA)
Wait requires for to express the reason for the waiting as can be observed in
example (269).
269. Jerry waited for Palmer's reply. (COCA)
Indeed, with the exception of the noun phrases his/her turn or his chance, there
were no minimal pairs with or without for, as in examples (270) to (278) below. The
impression that arises from comparing chance in waited for his chance in (270) and
(271) to waited his chance in (272) is that the bare noun construction expresses a
higher degree of certainty, that it is just a matter of time for Quintus Dellius to get his
In (270) on the other hand there is no guarantee that there will be an
actual game, and there is even an indication on the part of the subject of little or no
expectation that he had lostfaith and confidence in himself. In (271) the chance is more
abstract, even hypothetical, and subsequently less certain: the subject is expecting
fortune to provide for him in some form or other, perhaps through winnings like a
lottery or good luck, and not through what is real, namely his salary or Lonie's savings.
This is further confirmed by the fact that there are no occurrences of wait a chance in
COCA with the noun introduced by the indefinite article, as against 47 occurrences of
wait for a chance. The indefinite article represents chance as a vague unidentified
entity, which might present itself, hence its compatibility with the prospective
impression conveyed by the preposition for.
270. He had lost faith in himself. He had lost confidence in his abilities. # He
traveled with the Davis Cup team to all of its matches, hit with the players
and waited for his chance. That came against France in February. He
played Cedric Pioline, and went down two sets. Then, shocking even himself,
he rallied for a five-set victory (COCA)
271. As for hisfriends,they were the ones expecting something from him. And as
for the little fortune, neither his salary nor Lonie's savings could give him
that So, only chance or the right occasion might provide Edgard Osmin's
destiny. # He waited for his chance with firm resolve. (COCA)
272. Unfortunately, Quintus Dellius did not yet have Antony's ear, though his
advice would have been equally flattering, balm to Antony's ego. So, riding
down the Via Egnatia on a galled and grumpy pony, his balls bruised and
his unsupported legs aching, Quintus Dellius waited his chance, which still
hadn't come when Antony crossed into Asia and stopped in Nicomedia
Examples (273) to (275) are of the structure wait + for + her/his turn, while in
examples (274) to (277) for is absent. Unlike in the above examples, where an
interpretation of uncertainty can be attributed to chance occurring with for, the noun
turn implies a certain chance, opportunity or right to do something that each person in
a group is doing one after the other. However, in (273) to (275), there is an impression
of the turn being an object which is being left ungratified due to the waiting. This is
associated with a focus on the events occurring during the waiting, before the turn is
attained: in (273) discussion about the last song, in (274) mentally preparing for the
ski race and in (275) the events observed by the subject while waiting for his turn at
passport control.
In examples without for, such as (276) to (278), there is an
impression of simply waiting in line, with the waiter's turn being part of a sequence of
events. The use of for with wait in these examples would present the turn as a desired
goal, which allows a certain shift of focus away from the turn itself to what precedes it.
273. She waited for her turn at the ice cream. "What did you think of the last
song wë did? (COCA)
274. Now Molly slid from the chair, skied into the start house and waited for
her turn, after Julie. She spoke to no one. Instead, she stood near the
entrance, goggles in place, and studied the terrain. Little by little, the
people and noise around her faded until she was in her own world,
concentrating only on the mountain, on what she was born to do. "
Porter, get ready. " Molly nodded, stepped to the start gate and leaned
forward into position. " Ready... set., go! " (COCA)
275. He negotiated passport control and customs. The colors and characters
on signs made him feel packaged behind plastic, his personal qualities'
usefulness to be determined. As he waited for his turn he watched the
outer doors. Each opening provided a glimpse of people craning or on
tiptoe, eager to see and greet arrivals. (COCA)
Substituting for in (276) to (278) would only seem appropriate in these examples
should the focus in the speaker's message be more than just the sequence of events.
276. She waited her turn behind shoppers clogging up space at the sampling
counter. (COCA)
277. was too riddled with arthritis to handle the pastel Monopoly money
easily. But she waited her turn, and moved her piece (COCA)
278. Tom decided against going to MarketTime. He waited his turn at the
four-way stop, rolled down his window, leaned out, (COCA)
Again, in (279) and (280) the focus is on a sequence of events; however, it would be
possible to imagine for in these examples provided the focus of the message was more
than just the notion of turn-taking.
279. For nine days he waited his turn. Each morning a group of prisoners was
chosen at random, (COCA)
280. Clark sat out his freshman season in 2005, when the Nittany Lions went
11-1 with quarterback Michael Robinson. He then waited his turn
behind two-year starter Anthony Morelli and consecutive 9-4 seasons.
Though it was clear to his teammates Clark would be the starter entering
the fall, he had to beat out touted redshirt sophomore Pat Devlin. (COCA)
Note that one could wait for a turn at bat that might never come, but one would
not normally wait a turn at bat (although one could wait one's turn at bat, i.e. await the
moment foreseen in the batting order for one to go to bat). To wait a turn can also
mean to let a turn go by in a game with a view to gaining an advantage by deliberately
doing nothing until you see what other people do, which is the impression given in
example (281) below.
281. / waited a turn or two for his warrior to vacate and I was in like flint. 1
also popped a Fast Worker (I was Gandhi) and a turn or two later, (COCA)
5.10 To Look
The sense of look + for is that of trying to find something or someone. Unlike
look at, in which the object of at is within sight of the subject, this is not the case with
look for. Thus, the expressive effect in He looked at the pictures vs. He looked for the
pictures is quite different, yet structurally the only difference is in the choice of
prepositions. The first two examples below are typical of usage found in the corpus.
282. AimTe looked for some resemblance in the almond-shaped eyes, (COCA)
(= tried to find some resemblance)
283. After the open coding, working independently, both researchers
looked for themes in the data that would be sorted into categories.
(= tried to find some themes)
Examples (284), (285) and (286) are similar in structure with respect to the noun
phrase object, but different with respect to the preposition following looked. A slight
difference can be detected with respect to possibility in that in (284), the possibility
may be something hoped or desired but the likelihood of discovery remote, while in
(285) the possibility is also something that they hoped to find.
The possibility
introduced by to in (286), is presented as something more real and attainable, giving
the impression of looking forward to the reality of long-awaited race relations.
284. Because we were able to identify functional 12-mer peptides, we looked
for the possibility of a common binding motif for C ldn-4 Ecl2. Based on
theCC4P-13 (C OC A)
285. They looked for the possibility of other frequencies, but their careful
investigations did not reveal any sign of variations at other frequencies
286. more than thirty-seven thousand Georgians signed a petition pleading for
the passage of a local option law. Many Georgians, especially women,
were convinced that this law would reduce the crime and depravity
associated with saloons and alcoholism in the urban areas and also
reduce the financial and emotional suffering of the wives and families of
alcoholics. African Americans in Georgia, however, saw the benefits of the
local option law in a different light They looked to the possibility of
improved race relations, reduced incarceration of blacks due to alcoholinduced crimes, and the chance to work side-by-side with whites for a
moral cause that benefited all Georgians. (COCA)
The difference between for and to is more pronounced in the examples below
where the noun phrase objects are real: each subject knows where the other is in
(287), where the empty seats are in (288) and where his sister is in (289), so the
preposition to indicates simply the direction of the looking. However, substituting for
for to in these sentences would represent the location of the same noun phrase
referents as unknown, something the looker is trying to find, i.e. the desired result of
the looking.
287. There was a short pause, while the members looked to each other. (COCA)
288. He looked to the empty seats in the jury box. (COCA)
289. Eliot looked to his sister, and she looked to him. (COCA)
5.11 To Watch
The use of the verb watch + for evokes the sense of paying close attention in a
particular situation because something is expected to happen. The use of for with
watch brings out the impression of an event, or occurrence, that is prospective with
respect to that of the event evoked by the main verb such that watch the children means
to pay attention to the children, to care for them, while to watch for the children implies
that at the moment they are not present but are expected to appear at some
subsequent time. In examples (290) and (291) below, watched means 'looked at,' with
the direct object being present at the same moment as the watching.
However, the
temporal aspect changes with for such that appearance of the referent of noun phrase
occurring after for is subsequent in time to the event evoked by watch. In example
(292) with for, the detectives are on the look-out for someone not present at the time of
the actual watching, and the desired result of the watching is to find the attacker.
290. She sat on the stool outside her door and watched someone else's
children. They raced down the street, their laughter echoing back (COCA)
291. More than once, I watched someone talking to him, (COCA)
292. It was clear from the crime scene that the attacker had been injured, so
detectives watched for someone with recent injuries. (COCA)
Examples (293) to (296) also evoke the same impression as above with the verb
watch and the noun phrase a change. Examples (293) and (294) imply that the
watching and the change occur at the same time, while in (295) and (296) the change is
posterior, or subsequent to the watching. Indeed, with for the perception of a change is
a desired result of the watching that may or may not occur.
293. / watched a change in you. It's like you never had wings. Now you feel so
alive. I've watched you change (COCA)
294. As Brandon spoke he watched a change come over James. At first James
leaned back with a smirk across his face and his hands behind his head.
295. Each day they watched for a change in the waterline. Each day their piles
of mud seemed higher and higher (COCA)
296. / drew my breath in and watched for a change in her body language, a
change in her signals and a change in her demeanor...1 waited for her to tell
me to back (COCA)
6. Concluding Comments
The verbs examined in this chapter all imply a future-oriented, or forward
looking directionality, whether from a source or toward a goal. It was observed with
verbs.of desire (crave, hanker, hunger, long, wish, etc.) that the subject is motivated
through desire towards a goal with for representing the movement leading to the
achievement of the goal. Through contrasting these verbs with other prepositions it
was observed that in examples with for the latter gave more of an impression of desire
linked to reason and purpose. With verbs of request (appeal, ask, bargain, beg) the
impression of 'in order to obtain' is observed with for and not with the prepositions
after and about. With verbs evoking 'making an effort' (strive, try, struggle, labor, etc.)
the impression observed was that of the subject making an effort towards a desired
result. In addition, with certain examples there was an impression of 'purposeful
planning'. With the fourth group of verbs, those involving the notion of purpose,
various impressions specific to for came to light: impressions of achieving something
and not just hitting a target, as in aimed for self-government, or of desiring to obtain
that which is applied for; or of indicating the desired result of a wait; or an impression
of intentionality as in a calculated or a planned moment rather than an indication of the
time contained in a wait Observing and analyzing the examples in this chapter has
given us a better picture of for's contribution to the message expressed. It will be
interesting to see if the same impressions are observed with the verbs discussed in the
next chapter.
Chapter 6
Corpus Analysis: Verbs of Speech and Expression1
1. Preliminaries
The prepositions about and on with the meaning 'on the subject of, concerning',
i.e. speak about/on, typically occur with verbs of speech such as, argue, plead, preach,
speak, teach, lecture, cry, yell, roar, shout, mutter, growl, talk, explain, tell, inform. These
verbs also occur with for, and the question to be addressed in this chapter is that of the
exact nature of the difference between for and about or on. This will provide another
angle on the meaning offor and thereby contribute to defining its potential meaning.
I More specifically, oral expression, written expression being excluded from consideration
2. To Argue
Argue is defined by the Oxford C anadian Dictionary (1998: 66) as an "exchange
[of] views or opinions, especially heatedly or contentiously." With the preposition
about as in example (297) the prepositional phrase presents the referent of the noun
phrase as the topic of the argument. However, with the pattern argue + for, the NP's
referent is not the subject of the discussion but rather what the arguer is trying to
obtain by means of the argument, as in (298). Furthermore, this contributes to the
impression in (298) that the money had yet to be spent, while in (297) the money
referred to was most likely already spent and is subsequently being argued about.
297. A woman summoned the police to her house in the 1800 block of Taffeta
Trail after her husband damaged several items in their house and took her
diamond cluster ring. According to the March 1 incident report, the
couple argued about money, and then he overturned a $ 2,500
grandfather clock, breaking its glass; (C OC A)
298. They forcefully argued for money for Iraq, but not for Americans.
Argue +for thus evokes the impression of being in favour of that which is being argued
for, as opposed to being against something. This is also the case in (299), (300) and
299. they became unglued as they argued for the biggest redistribution of
wealth in our nation's history. (COCA)
300. PAS argued for religion, race, and language as the criteria, while UMNO
argued for race, language, and custom. (COCA)
301. Bush argued for a strategic commitment to Iraq (COCA)
More than just introducing the purpose of the argument, the use of for with argue
establishes a temporal relationship between the noun phrase object and the verb. In
the above examples, the noun phrase object has yet to be realized, representing instead
that which the subject supports and hopes to obtain. Thus, in (302) below the subject
hopes to obtain the result of politics being a profession. Example (303), in contrast to
(302), simply states the subject of the argument. This means that the idea of 'being in
favour of is not evoked by for all by itself but by the combination of the notions of
argue +for + the nature of the NP's referent
302. In 1921 Max Weber argued for politics as a profession (COCA)
303. He argued about politics with his father (COCA)
3. To Plead
The use of plead in the following examples is similar to argue; however, unlike
argue, plead does not readily occur with about and the examples of plead + on mostly
indicate where the pleading took place, i.e. on TV or on the radio. The combination
plead +for expresses a desired result, what the pleading is aimed at obtaining, such that
mercy is the desired result is mercy in (304) and her return in (305). In example (306)
quiet is the desired result that the subject aimed at but did not obtain.
304. In back, the recruit pleaded for mercy. (COCA)
305. Brianna's grandfather pleaded forher return. (COCA)
306. Krasny pleaded for quiet, but the cacophony continued. (COCA)
4. To Speak
One of the common expressive effects of speak + for is that of 'in place of,
articulate the feelings of others,' with examples (307) and (308) below being typical of
this expressive effect.
In these cases, for represents the movement towards an
exchange, or replacement, of one person by another, with the result of the subject being
in a position to speak for others.
307. Cink spoke for all who did show up: "We all love it here. It would be a
shame if this tournament were anywhere else. But ultimately it will be a
business decision. " (COCA)
308. They were quiet for a minute. "What's going on?" Chad spoke for both of
them. (COCA)
The other impression found with for is that of 'in favour of, as in (309) and
(310). In these examples, freedom or individual liberty are supported by the speaker's
309. was their third attack on the little church where the big lady had stood
and spoke forfreedom.(COCA)
310. He spoke for individual liberty in economic affairs and there is no reason
in terms of philosophy (COCA)
The preposition to occurs more frequently1 than for with the verb speak: 5561
examples of spoke + to vs. 541 examples of spoke + for. The common impression of
spoke + to is that of directed speech in which the noun phrase object, or addressee, is
the target or goal of the speaking. This is the impression in examples (311) and (312).
311. A few feet ahead, Marissa spoke to Bobby beneath the chorus. (COCA)
312. he spoke to the crowd, (COCA)
When the noun phrase object is a common noun, as in (313) and (314), the expressive
effect is that of addressing an issue.
313. At a recent district staff meeting, an assistant principal spoke to this
issue. (COCA)
314. You spoke to the articulation agreements, the ideal that this will make it
easier for people (COCA)
All frequencies of occurrence are based on an electronic search of COCA.
5. To Preach
When followed by for the verb to preach evokes the idea of some benefit
accruing to the recipients of the message. In example (315) below the impression is
not that of 'in place of as would be the case with spoke + for, but instead that of
delivering a message or sermon for the benefit of the congregation.
The same
impression can be observed in (316). In these examples for brings to the message an
impression of direction or movement from a source (the preacher) to an audience
which benefits from what the source brings to it
315. As a guest preacher, 1 frequently attend "contemporary "services
characterized by poor music, bad theology and shoddy leadership. Last
year when I preached for a congregation that had both traditions
316. But Spencer is gay and he hates her, so Marlise's feeling for him can have
none of the greedy acquisitiveness of lust or love. It's purer-more like the
love God must feel for his creatures, the compassion that Jackie, a.k.a.
Sassy Cassie, preached for the customers with their beer guts encased in
cheap, wrinkled suits. (COCA)
In example (317) social justice is the desired result of the preaching. In other words,
the preaching is being motivated by a desired result, namely, social justice.
317. Drawing on a passage from I Corinthians, Mr. Schultz preached for social
justice while speaking directly to his humble churchal and contemporary
services, I noticed a disturbing contrast (COCA)
Examples (318) to (320) are similar to examples (315) and (316) in that they
also involve a sermon directed towards an audience; however, the difference is that the
preposition to represents the audience merely as the terminus or recipient of the
directed message, whereas with for there is the idea of the audience receiving some
benefit from the sermon. To underscore the difference between preach to and preach
for, it could be pointed out that it is possible to preach to empty pews but not preach
for empty pews as empty pews cannot derive any benefit from a sermon.
318. Well, you mentioned sermon writing. Tell us about the first time that you
preached to a congregation. What was the theme of your sermon and
what did it feel like? (COCA)
319. On a recent Sunday, he preached to a congregation of one, Ms. Spann.
Their mere presence underscored the theme of the sermon: commitment
'If you are not committed to something, you will not see it through, ' he
preached. ' But I am committed. ' (COCA)
320. Sani recalled the Friday last August when he preached to his fellow
Muslims in the cavernous dusty courtyard of the capital's main mosque
6. To Teach
The occurrences of for with the verb to teach evoke purpose as in (321) and
benefit in (322). The idea of merely directing the teaching towards an end-point
recipient, or audience, is expressed by the preposition to in examples (323) and (324).
321. The teachers taught for the examinations, the objectives of which were
to test only the reading and (COCA)
322. The literature reviewed and conversations with faculty who taught for
the CBM supported the need for this research study. (COCA)
323. and what my father knew, he taught to me. Naturally, I eventually
surpassed him in skill. (COCA)
324. CPR) has grown from an obscure medical theory to a basic first aid skill
taught to adults and is now the near-universal technique (COCA)
7. To Cry
Examples (325) to (328) illustrate the verb to cry occurring with for in which
the combined pattern evokes the desired results of the crying, namely, her mother in
(325), life in (326), help in (327) and papa in (328). In contrast, in examples (329) to
(332) with the preposition to, the noun phrase object denotes the addressee of the cry.
325. She felt frightened and alone, and she began to cry She cried for her
mother, and her mother came to her and held her close. (COCA)
326. / cried for my life. (COCA)
327. He apparently cried for help, at some point, asked for a hamburger.
328. On occasion I would wail this deep-sea arctic wail invented specifically for
my exile. I cupped what remained of my khui and cried for my papa five
thousand miles to the east and north. How could I have abandoned the only
person who had ever truly loved me? (COCA)
329. One moment, one moment, don't come in, papa! "she cried to her father
330. "It's rotten!"she cried to the empty kitchen. "The damn thing's rotten!"
331. As the women approached, I cried to all the gods to grant me extra
meters of life, (COCA)
332. They are the most unprofessional babies in football. Last week they cried
to their coach Dick Vermeil that they didn't want to practice on Christmas
Day. (COCA)
8. To Yell
Similar to the verb cry, in the pattern yell + for + noun phrase the noun phrase
denotes the desired result of the yelling, namely mom in (333), or help in (334), or
taxis in (335).
With the preposition to, the noun phrase object represents the
addressee, namely, two deckhands in (336), her in (337) or anyone in (338).
333. So that's when I went and yelled for my mom, she came flying out of her
room. (COCA)
334. And when he yelled for help they would lower a ladder with the rungs
sawed through (COCA)
335. People yelled for taxis, scalped tickets, preached the gospel. (COCA)
336. First, she yelled to her two deckhands to prepare for a man overboard.
337. I yelled to her to come back in a half hour (COCA)
338. I yelled to anyone who would listen, (COCA)
339. "Hurry!" I yelled to a workman. "I have to get to the thirteenth floor!"
Examples (340) to (342) bring out the sense of the prepositions that can occur
with the verb yell and the various expressive effects observed in usage of this verb
followed by a prepositional complement. In (340) with for, the impression is that of
obtaining a result through the yelling, in this case for him to join the group. In (341)
with to, him is the addressee and in (342) with at there is an impression of verbal
aggression being directed at him as a target
340. "Bobby!" I yelled for him, and waved my arms over my head. "Come on!"
and saw him running toward us. He ran funny, almost like a girl, with his
arms out wide. (COCA)
341. "There's this guy down here who said you yelled to him on the street. "
342. but a mistake like that could get one of us killed. Gerrit yelled at him
through clenched teeth to stay put, (COCA)
9. To Roar
The noun phrase objects of for in examples (343) and (344) are the desired
results which the roarer hopes to obtain by means of the roaring. In example (345),
the roar is an expression of acclaim accruing to the baseball player, Salazar (the sense
of'in favour of). The same sort of expressive effect is observed in (346).
343. We all roared for vengeance and blood, the guards brandished their
swords. (COCA)
344. yet they roared for blood. (COCA)
345. he spun around, dropping to his knee. The fans roared for Salazar, even
after the Smuggler recovered and threw him out at first base (COCA)
346. During the first night of Round 1, the audience roared for Lisa Macuja
from the Philippines after she performed a pas de deux (COCA)
In example (347), with the preposition to, on the other hand, there is an impression of a
transition into a new state.
347. The engine roared to life. (COCA)
10. To Shout
The pattern shout + for + noun phrase is similar to the other verbs of speech,
namely cry and yell, in that the noun phrase following/or is the desired result of calling
out loudly. Certainly, this is the case with examples (348) to (352).
348. Thank God the doors opened when they did. The conductor shouted for
the cops. (COCA)
349. Fortchee shouted for a break. (COCA)
350. At a book launch party in Andra Pradesh, protesters shouted for her
death and three party legislators present were charged with rioting.
351. Archie shouted for attention. (COCA)
352. Then he shouted for Isobel. She came. She helped him sweep away the dirt
In example (353), in contrast, joy is not a desired result or something which the
subject is hoping to achieve; instead joy is the reason for the shouting.
353. They shouted forjoy on seeing him, (COCA)
With shout + to, as in (354), the impression is that of addressing the shout to
someone, while shout + at brings forth an impression of verbal aggression in (355) and
(356), with at denoting the target of the abuse.
354. he shouted to me across the bar at Oscar's Grille (COCA)
355. warning to the boisterous crowd of more than 100. When an
unidentified fan shouted at him, Briggs ejected everyone and called
police to have (COCA)
356. / stayed out late sometimes, but they never shouted at me. Even if I was
naughty Nora just gave me hugs and kisses (COCA)
11. To Mutter
To mutter means 'to speak in a barely audible manner' (cf Oxford Canadian
Dictionary 1989: 959). A corpus search on COCA reveals that mutter + to is far more
frequent, with 250 hits vs. only 2 hits for mutter + for. As with other verbs of speech
that are followed by the preposition to the impression remains that of addressing the
speech action to someone, as observed in examples (357) and (358) below. On the
other hand, with the preposition for, as in example (359), the impression evoked is the
reason for the muttering, namely the benefit of those sitting in the box.
357. Arminius had grown fluent in Latin. He still sometimes muttered to
himself, going through a declension or conjugation, (COCA)
358. People are staring at you, " Mei muttered to her sister. (COCA)
359. His own personal favorite umpire-directed witticism, however, is the one
he muttered for the benefit of those sitting in his box: (COCA)
12. To Explain
The impression evoked by explain + for in examples (361) to (363) is that of
benefit, such that it is for Cheryl's benefit in (361) that the explanation was given, or
that of an East Coast reporter in (362) or me in (363). Example (364) evokes the
purpose sense offor, such that the reason for the explanation was 'most purposes'.
361. the butter knife exceeded the strength of the breadstick. " That, " Doug
explained for Cheryl's benefit, " was for practice. I eat cholesterol for
science (COCA)
362. Most East Texans are not physical scientists, either, but they know things.
They know that when the cows lie down, it's going to rain, as lawman Jeff
Taylor explained for an East Coast reporter. Sure enough, the weather
changed from sunny and cool one day to drizzly and cold the next.
363. Outlook by Balint Vazsonyi (" National divide deep - and deeply serious ")
explained for me why so many things happening today don't make any
sense. (COCA)
364. universe were calibrated with a high degree of mathematical precision. In
fact, they explained for most purposes, the way the universe worked
from the point of view of (COCA)
The use of the preposition to with explain is similar to that of the other verbs of
speech that occur with to, namely the noun phrase following to is simply the addressee
to which the message is directed. This is the impression observed in the sampling of
examples (365) to (367) listed below:
365. "Building a tower!" Max said and then clapped. I explained to Ben how
none of our Ken dolls were actually named Ken. They were (COCA)
366. the pot and the broken wrist and Jack White and {finally broke down and
explained to my mother that I'd be leaving California; that I was too
young (COCA)
367. problem. How does one person think he can solve it? "She later explained
to me further (this time switching into English) what she meant (COCA)
13. Concluding Comments
One question addressed in this chapter regarded the difference in use between
for and the other prepositions, about and on, that typically occur with verbs of speech
and expression. In argue + for, the NP complement of the preposition corresponds to
what the arguer is trying to obtain by means of an argument rather than the subject of
the argument, as would be the case with about. Another impression came to light with
the verb speak + for, where the common expressive effect of speaking 'in place of
another led to the observation that for represents a movement toward an exchange, or
replacement, of one person by another. The verb preach + for evokes the idea of
benefit accruing to the recipients of the message, unlike preach + to where the
addressees are merely the terminus of the message. This impression was also
observed with teach + for vs. teach + to. Another impression was observed with yell +
for where the noun phrase object of for denotes the desired result of the yelling. The
impression of benefit also occurred with explain + for. The evidence examined in this
chapter thus confirms some of the impressions observed in Chapter 5 and adds some
new sense effects such as the notion of exchange. It remains to examine the extent to
which our observations and analysis is supported by dictionaries and grammars and
whether these reference books can provide more precision regarding for's potential
Chapter 7
Towards a Potential Meaning
1. Preliminary Comments
There is no oral or written expression of an intended message without first
representing that message with words, specifically the meanings inherent in words.
Yet, it is important to note that a word's meaning exists in two states: firstly that of
potential meaning, which is a unique complex of impressions that can give rise to all
possible actualizations and consequently account for polysemy, and secondly, actual
meaning, which is one of the possible actualizations observed in discourse. The actual
meaning, derived from the potential meaning, represents what the speaker wants the
hearer to infer from what is said. Because the potential meaning lies behind all uses of
a word it should be possible to infer for's potential meaning from the numerous and
various uses of this word. However, an intended message is usually conveyed by using
more than one word, and in order to be certain that our hypothesis of for's potential
meaning can be applied to all actual uses of for, it is necessary to factor out the
meanings contributed by the other words. The essential here, according to Hirtle
(1989:139) is:
the reconstituting of a single prior condition to account for a plurality
of observed consequences, the prior condition (or hypothesis) being
conceivable only, the observed consequences (the data) being perceivable
...In the case of polysemy, the perceivable facts, the data to be explained,
are the different senses of a word or morpheme, its contextual meanings.
... We must therefore seek something in the field of meaning which will
provide a prior condition, a conceivable hypothesis, in the light of which
all the contextual meanings will appear as possible consequences. The
meaning we are seeking must somehow exist before the contextual
meaning arises because a condition necessarily exists before its
The first step then in examining the various uses of for is to analyze the various
component parts of sentences, and subsequently the contexts, in which for occurs. To a
certain extent this has already been accomplished with the analysis of verbs that occur
with for. The next step is to examine the contribution of the noun phrase objects
following for and other contextual factors. This is best undertaken by analyzing the
varied, and numerous examples, mostly attested, found in standard English
dictionaries and standard reference grammar books. For example, Collins Cobuild
(1995: ix) makes use of many 'genuine pieces of text' from "The Bank of English"
claiming "the examples ...show the meaning of the word by showing it in use."
However, does this mean then that the separate, 36 numbered uses (cf pages 659-660)
represent 36 different meanings of for? On the other hand, Webster's divides the
definition of for into 10 separate senses and 16 subsenses (cf page 886), with the
caveat that the subsenses are "based upon their semantic relationship to one another."
Nonetheless, what is important is that Webster's illustrates all the various senses of for
with "typical uses of the word in context," thus providing valuable data for our analysis.
In much the same way, the Oxford English Dictionary, with its numerous and multiple
definitions of for (31 main senses) provides valuable, authentic examples of for + noun
phrase, which typically illustrate the observed, actual uses offor.
The following descriptions are an attempt to arrange into distinct categories all
the various uses of for taken from a variety of grammars and dictionaries (c/Table 1).
All of the examples given below are taken from dictionaries or grammar books and
grouped more or less according to the descriptions provided by these works.
In addition to the consideration given to the noun phrase object of for and the
meaning inherent in this object, attention will also be given to the verb phrase itself.
The purpose of this analysis is to determine to what extent the proposed potential
meaning of for can be applied to the actual uses in discourse. In other words, to what
extent does the impression conveyed in a particular use, i.e. the sense of 'purpose',
arise from the verb phrase and/or the noun phrase object, and to what extent does the
meaning of for contribute to the message conveyed by the utterance? This is the
question we will be addressing in the chapter.
Finally, a preliminary postulate regarding/or's potential meaning will be applied
to the main uses offor with a view to further refinement of the postulate regarding/or's
potential meaning. In this way, the potential meaning of for's potential meaning is
considered in two versions: preliminary and final. The preliminary postulate, largely
influenced by one for's main senses, that of purpose, has led to an initial impression of
for's meaning as an intended movement leading towards a desired result. However,
while movement is an essential aspect of for's potential meaning what needs to be
determined is whether this movement of leading towards a desired result can be
applied to all the mains senses offor as determined by the OED, or if further refinement
with respect to movement is required. Once this preliminary version has been applied,
what should then emerge from the following observations and analysis is a final
version of for's potential meaning as being a type of movement that can account for all
observed contextual uses of for. Then, the next step within a fully scientific method is
to test the hypothesis, which involves going from the general, in this case a postulated
potential meaning, to specific particular uses, the process of deduction. This is the main
purpose of this chapter.
2. Main-Use Descriptions
Table 371 represents the OED's description of meaning, while Table 38
represents a comparison between the OED and Webster's. The OED offers the most
comprehensive description of the uses or meanings of for, with 10 main senses and 27
sub-senses, while Webster's more or less reflects the OED's pattern of main sense
groupings and chronological order of for's historical development. This raises the
question as to whether the dictionaries are describing one for or 37 different/or's. The
descriptions of the two dictionaries are summarized in the charts below:
TABLE 37: The OED Description of For Summarized
Main Sense
1601 Shaks. All's Well ...For whose
1. Before (obsolete)
throne 'tis needfull.. to kneele
2. Representation
'The member for —shire'
2a. Representing, as
They will employ somebody to do the
business for them.
2b. In place of, instead of
2c. Of payment, purchase, sale, etc The Due d'Aumale'sgreat work.for
which some of us would gladly give
= in exchange for
all the novels ever written.
2d. In requital of
He was very soundly thrashed for his
3. Support
3a. In defense or support of; in
To vote for or against
favour of,
'You argue for it in vain.'
3b. In exclamations, indicating the Hurrah for the knight of St. John'
person, etc
3c. In honour of
Cheer for him, if you are Romans.
4. Purpose
4a. with a view to; with the object A considerable number of prisoners
were immediately selected for
or purpose of; as preparatory to
4b. For the purpose of being or
'He went for a soldier, and never
came back.'
It is all for her good.
4c. Conducive to
4d. For sale: to be sold. For rent
For two pins I'll throw the lamp at
4e. In order to obtain.
4f. Indicating the object to which Care for...long for, search for, an eye
the activity of the faculties or
for, genius for, talent for, taste for,
feelings is directed.
desire for, love for
Unlike Table 3, chronology is omitted and the OED's attested examples are included.
5. Of advantage or
4g. Indicating destination
• place
• person (fit for)
• thing
The Persian army was in full march
for Athens.
a dance for beginners
A subject for speculation.
5a. With the purpose or result of
benefiting or gratifying; as a
service to
They only for each other breathe
5b. As affecting the interests or
condition of (a person or thing),
5c. Governing a sb. or pers. pron.
followed by an infinitive, forming
a construction equivalent to 'that
he, etc. may, might, should, etc.
This.. bodes ill for the peace of
What a condition for me to come to!
That is for you to guess.
6. Of attributed or
"-in the character of, in the light
assumed character; of, as equivalent to,"
= as
-what is (he) considered as, what
sort of (man) is he?
7. Cause or Reason
7a. By reason of, under the
influence of (a feeling or
subjective condition).
7b. Because of, on account of
For meaning 'to find/get/have'
7c. Of an efficient or operative
7d. Of a preventive cause or
8. Of
correspondence or
9. Of reference /
exception /
comparison / "In
spite o f
We mistake his Blunders for Beauties.
'to leave for dead'
I took his story for truth.
What is that for a Zenobia?
A good guy; a movie cop...; afor-real
Take your guns too, for fear of
When I see many its in a page, I
always tremble for the writer.
A mother respected.. for her feminine
She thanked her uncle for his letter.
He asked for another pen.
He is worse for liquor.
This was like, not seeing the Wood for
word for word
9a. As regards, with regard or
How he managed for water 1 could
not learn.
respect to, concerning.
9b. In proportion to, considering; The weather.. phenomenally severe
considering the nature or capacity for the season.
10. Of duration
and extension
10a. Marking actual duration.
During, throughout
10b. Marking intended duration
10c. Marking an amount of
extension, esp. in space, lineal or
The catch.. was worn away, and
probably had been for months.
The driver.. was practically placed at
the disposal of the defendants for the
We drove on for a few miles...
TABLE 38: OED/Webster's> Comparison of For Based on
OED (sense/use)
Webster's (sense/use)
1. Before
1. Before (obsolete)
2. Representation through
2a: as a preparation toward;
substitution or exchange
2b: In order to be, become,
serve as
2c: in order to bring about or
2d. to supply the need of
2e: with the purpose or object
2f: adapted to or prerequisite
2g: in order to obtain or gain
3. Support
2h: in order to save
(something in danger) or to
3a: used as a function word to
indicate the object of a
feeling...or faculty
3b: so as to secure as a result:
conducive to
3c (1): intending to go to or
(2): on the point of : having
the intention of
3d: used as a function word to
indicate the person or thing
that something is to be
delivered to...or assigned
to...or used by or in
connection with
Historical D evelopment
Example from Webster's
dressing for dinner
originally built for a church
working for the good of
food for hungry mouths
an instrument for measuring
suits for tall men
a shelf for books; math for
write for a free catalog
work for a living
on trial for his life
take sthgfor his cough
hungry for praise; longing for
a taste for spicy food; eye for
telling you for your own good
has just left for the office
was just for going to bed
any letters for me
a slot for out-of-town mail
are these the tires for this car
4. Purpose
5. Of advantage or
6. Of attributed or assumed
character; = as
7. Cause or Reason
8. Of correspondence or
9. Of r e f e r e n c e / e x c e p t i o n
/ comparison / "In spite o f
10. Of duration and
4: to the amount of
... or to the extent of
... or duration of
... or value of
5a: in place of in exchange as
the equivalent of or in requital of
5b: in behalf of
in support of
in defense of
in favor of
a check for $100
can see for miles from the hilltop
waited for several hours
now pull for all you are worth
go to the store for me
all that trouble for nothing
my kingdom for a horse
he gave blow for blow, an eye for an
his lawyer will act for him in this
5c: in honor of : after
let me carry thatfor you
fighting for their country
a prayer for those at sea
which candidate are you for
named for his grandfather
6a: used with a noun or pronoun for him to confess would be painful,
followed by an infinitive to form
shouted the news for all to hear
an equivalent to such noun
clauses as that he should, that he
6c: used as a function word to
for God's sakeintroduce exclamations or mild
7a: as being
know for a fact
do you take me for a fool
7b: used as a function word to
indicate parenthetically an actual for one thing, we have no money; for
or implied enumeration or
selection from an aggregate or
because of,... on account of
shouted for joy
decorated for bravery
do itfor my sake
used as a function word to
for every good writer there are a
indicate equality or proportion
dozen scribblers
between numbers or quantities
repeated the speech word for word
that are related, compared, or
10a: as regards: in respect to:
a stickler for detail; safe for the
10b: in proportion to...taking
tall for his age
into account: considering
very cool for May
10c: in spite of:
you don't convince me for all your
notwithstanding-usu. used with
clever arguments
The division of the uses of for below into 10 main uses reflects the OED model of
the historical development of for into 10 separate branching lines which according to
the OED are "senses which have developed along several different and parallel
However, the purpose of this chapter is not to discuss the diachronic
development of for, but rather to use the OED's classification as a basis for organizing
the numerous senses of for found in dictionaries and reference grammars.
2.1 Before (now obsolete) (OED, 1989: 23)
(of place, in the presence or sight of, in asseveration, into the presence of)
368. Shaks. All's Well ...For whose throne 'tis needfull... to kneele (1601)
The citation above from Shakespeare is one of the examples used in the OED to
illustrate this now obsolete use of for. While the contextual interpretation is that of
kneeling before the throne, such that coming into the presence of the throne, or rather
the king or queen, one is required to kneel. However, an interpretation of purpose is
also possible, in that in order to demonstrate respect, or loyalty, one must kneel before
2.2 Representation: Of representation, substitution or exchange (OED, 1989: 23)
This next group of uses of for is categorized under the general sense of
'representation,' which covers representing a particular group or organization, taking
the place of another person, substituting a name or object for another, or exchanging
money for an object or services.
In all these uses of for, the interpretation of
'representation' is a result of the context, e.g. in (369) below it is the nouns member and
—shire which through their lexical meaning bring to mind the idea of representing.
This notion does not strictly come from for but instead from the conjunction of all the
elements of the sentence, with for representing a movement leading to the result of one
element taking over the role of another element
2a(l). Representing, as representative
369. 'The member for —shire' (OED)
2a(2) "If you speak or act for a particular group or organization, you represent them."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
370. She appears nightly on the television news, speaking for the State
371. ...the spokesman for the Democrats
2a(3) For meaning 'representing', or 'as a representative of. (Hall, 1986: 61)
372. 'Bus' is short for 'omnibus'.
2a(4) Representing (the thing mentioned)
373. the 'F'is for Fascinating. (OED online)
In the next group of senses, representation takes the form of substitution. In
(374) below, somebody will substitute for them, Doe bats in place of Roe, the box takes
on the role of the table, just as a pronoun takes over the role of name. The dictionary
paraphrases 'in place of or 'instead of do not represent the meaning of for, they simply
restate the overall message evoked by all the words in the sentence. For, for its part,
represents the movement of one person or thing to occupy the position or role of
2b(l). In place of, instead of
374. 'They will employ somebody to do the business for them.' (OED)
375. Doe now batting for Roe. (Webster's)
376. This box will serve for a table.
377. A pronoun is used for a name.
2b(2). Representing or in place of:
378. here for my uncle
2b(3). In place of or in exchange for
379. swap these two bottles for that one. (OED online)
In the following group of uses, representation is realized as exchange. In (380)
below, 'all the novels ever written' would be exchanged for the Due's great work. In
(381), ten dollars is exchanged for 'it', just as in (382) a bus ride is exchanged for 30
cents, or 1.4 million pounds exchanged for a house. For in all of these uses represents a
movement leading towards a desired end where some object replaces the money paid
to obtain it. Example (381) can be represented schematically below:
position #1
it takes the place of
position #2
2c(l). Of payment, purchase, sale, etc = in exchange for (OED: 24)
Introducing the thing bought or sold,... As the price of, or the penalty on
account of
380. 'The Due d'Aumale's great work ...for which some of us would
gladly give all the novels ever written.' (OED)
2c(2). Price-in exchange for
381.1 bought it for ten dollars. (Saito, 1932: 697)
2c(3). "If something is bought, sold, or done for a particular price or amount, that price
or amount is the cost of buying, selling, or doing it." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
382. We got the bus back to Tangefor 30 cents...
383. The Martins sold their house for about 1.4 million pounds...
384. The doctor was prepared to do the operation for a large sum.
In 2d. below the punishment received is in exchange for this person's pains. For
represents the movement of 'thrashing' to occupy the place of 'pains', denoting what
the person thrashed got as a reward for his efforts.
2d. Jn requital of (OED: 24)
385. 'He was very soundly thrashed for his pains.' (OED)
As demonstrated above, this main sense of'representation', be it in the form of
representing, substituting or exchange does not strictly come from for but instead from
the conjunction of all the elements of the sentence, with for representing a movement
leading to the result of one element occupying the role of another element.
2.3 Support: In defense or support of; in favour of, on behalf of (a person or policy)
The examples below illustrate another meaning attributed to for, that of support
or favour shown towards the prepositional object's referent. The verbs argue in (386),
or vote in (390) to (392) and (394), evoke actions which bring support or favour to a
position, plan or institution. C onsequently, the impressions of 'in defense of,' 'in
support of,' 'in favour of,' or 'on behalf of do not strictly speaking come exclusively
from the semantics of for, but also depend on the nature of the meaning of the verb and
the NP object of the preposition. The hypothesis put forward here is that for indicates
the movement of accrual of benefit or support to a position, party, person, etc.
. . . .
a position or opinion
argument as a 'benefit' accruing to
the position or opinion in question
3a(l). In defense or support of; in favour of, (OED: 23)
386. 'You argue for it in vain.'
3a(2). "If you are for something, you agree with it or support it."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
387. Are you for or against public transport?
388. I'm for a government that the people respect and that respects the people.
3a(3). "For conveys the idea of support..." (Quirk et al, 1986: 327)
389. Are you for or against the plan?
(ie Do you. support or oppose the plan?)
390. Whom do you vote for?
391. To vote for or against
392. They voted for independence in a referendum. (OED online)
393. Troops who had fought for Napoleon. (OED online)
3a(4). "You use/or after words such as 'argue', 'case', 'evidence', or 'vote' in order to
introduce the thing that is being supported or proved." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
394. Another union has voted for industrial action in support of a pay
395. The case for nuclear power is impressive.
3b. In exclamations, indicating the person, etc. (OED: 23)
396. 'Hurrah for the knight ofSt. John'cried the mercenaries; 'and hurrah for
fair France and bold Germany!'
3c. In honour of (OED: 23)
397. Cheer for him, if you are Romans.
398. He had named his two children, one for Her Majesty and the other for
Prince Albert.
The sense of 'support" attributed to for does not come exclusively from the
semantics of for; as demonstrated above, for represents a movement resulting in the
accrual of benefit or support to a position, party, person, etc.
2.4 Purpose: Of purpose or destination (OED, 1989: 23)
One of the most important senses of for, and certainly one of the most common,
is 'purpose'. Some descriptions of this use are given below:
> "For can be used to talk about somebody's purpose in doing something, but only
when it is followed by a noun." (Swan, 1998: 202)
We stopped at the pub for a drink.
1 went to the college for an interview with Professor Taylor.
> "For used as a function word to indicate purpose." (Webster's, 1991: 480)
> "With a view to; with the object or purpose of; as preparatory to...conducive to...in
order to obtain...indicating the object to which the activity of the faculties or
feelings is directed...indicating destination...of appointment, appropriation, or
fitness...of result or effect...designating an amount to be received." (OED, 1989: 2324)
"The uses offor illustrated ... have in common a notion of'purpose', as we see from
the possibility of paraphrasing them by a clause (in order) t o . . . : for money - 'in
order to gain money', for safety = 'in order to reach safety', etc." (Quirk et al, 1985:
He'll do anything/or money.
Everyone ran for safety.
For the journey, they packed three large picnic baskets of food.
He died for his country.
Interestingly, example (402) is interpreted as expressing the sense of purpose, as in
'dying to get his country back, or a return of rightful power; however, another
impression could be 'dying in support of one's country' where for would be expressing
support rather than purpose. The actual interpretation of (402) depends on a larger
This use of for in the following examples can be explained as a movement leading to a
desired result.
4a(l). With a view to; with the object or purpose of; as preparatory to (OED: 23-24)
403. A considerable number of prisoners were immediately selected for
404. An order was made...for the payment of the balance to the plaintiff.
405. / have been out for a walk
4a(2). Object of search, or inquiry, or affection.
You use for when you state or explain the purpose of an object, action, or activity."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995:659)
406. ...drug users who use unstehle equipment for injections of drugs..
407. The knife for cutting sausage was sitting in the sink.
408. ...economic aid for the future reconstruction of the country.
409. What are you looking for?
410. / have a regard for him.
4a(3). "You use for after words such as 'time', 'space', 'money', or 'energy' when you
say how much there is or whether there is enough of it in order to be able to do or use a
particular thing." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
411. Many new trains have space for wheelchair users.
412. It would take three to six hours for a round trip.
413. Chris couldn't even raise the energy for a smile.
4a(4). Having (the thing mentioned) as a purpose or function: networks for the
exchange of information \ the necessary tools for making a picture frame. (OED online
4b. For the purpose of being or becoming (OED: 24)
414. 'He went for a soldier, and never came back.'
Ac. Conducive to (OED: 24)
415. 'It is all for her good.'
4d. For sale: to be sold. For rent (OED: 24)
"If something is for sale, hire, or use, it is available to be sold, hired, or
used" (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
416. ...fishmongers displayingfreshwater,fishfor sale...
417. Skis are available for hire on a daily basis.
418. ...a room for rent...
419. ...a comfortable chair, suitable for use in the living room.
4e. In order to obtain. Also after verbs like ask, search, etc., or verbs implying motion,
e.g. to go, send, etc. (OED: 24)
For meaning 'to find/get/have' (Hall, 1986: 60) (object or recipient of activity, desire)
420. He asked for another pen. Will you send for some tea?
421. Oh, for a glass of beer now!
422. The students in our country are thirsty for knowledge.
423. They are hungry for excitement.
424. He turned to me for help.
4f(l). Indicating the object to which the activity of the faculties or feelings is directed:
frequent after vbs., as care, long, search, etc., sbs., as an eye, genius, talent, taste, desire,
love, etc., or adjs., as eager, watchful, etc...-.; also in exclamations expressing expectancy
or desire, now for, oh for. (OED: 24)
4f(2). "If you feel a particular emotion for someone or something, they are the object of
that emotion, and you feel it when you think about them." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
425. I'm sorry for Steve.
426. Mack felt a pitiless contempt for her.
4g. Indicating destination (place or person)
In the next group of examples below, (427) to (432), the noun phrase object of
for indicates either geographical or spatial destination. The destination is expressed by
the noun phrase and the verb phrase expresses the start of the movement towards that
destination. In all of these uses, for indicates an intended movement leading towards a
desired result in the form of a destination and the verb denotes the initial stage of this
4g(l) "In order to arrive at; with the purpose of going to (a place). Formerly
sometimes after go, journey, travel, etc. Now chiefly after verbs denoting the
commencement of a journey, as to depart, start, sail, leave, or the act of directing
movement, as to steer, make; also after the pple. bound. (OED: 24)
427. She asked whi they were departed for the kynges courte.
428. The Persian army was in full march for Athens.
429. Lord Reay left London yesterday for India.
4g(2). "If you leave for a particular place or if you take a bus, train, plane, or boat for
a place, you are going there." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
430. They would be leaving for Rio early the next morning.
4g(3). To express intended destination, for is used with verbs such as run, start, head,
leave, and set out (Quirk et al, 1985: 321)
431. He set out for London, etc.
4g(4). having (the place mentioned) as a destination (OED online dictionary)
432. They are leaving for London tomorrow.
Unlike the examples above in which the verb expresses actual physical
movement on the part of the subject towards a destination, in (433) below destination
takes the form of an intended recipient: an army ofguests is the recipient of dinner and
the guests benefit from the latter. Here the dinner is represented as bringing a benefit
to the guests. In (435) the noun phrase object is depicted as something suitable or
destined to be speculated on. As well, in (435), Hill describes for as indicating
'suitability', or 'with a view to' or 'in connexion with'. The notion of 'suitability' arises
from the sentence as a whole, and not specifically from for. Nonetheless, for denotes
the movement whereby Cornwall is associated with a holiday as the warmest place in
which a holiday can be had in England.
4g(5a). Introducing the intended recipient, or the thing to which something is intended
to belong, or in connexion with which it is to be used.
433. A stone-vaulted kitchen, where dinner could be dressed for an
army ofguests.
4g(6). Fit for ; suitable or appropriate to (similar to intended/or) (Saito, 1932: 699)
434. A subject for speculation.
4g(7). For indicating appointment/suitability, and meaning 'with a view to (its being)'
or 'in connexion with'. (Hall, 1986: 61)
435. Cornwall is the warmest place for a holiday.
436. It is time for school (to start).
437. Chalk is used for writing on the blackboard.
438. Milk is good for you.
439. Those are the wrong clothes for playing football in.
In the examples (440) to (444) below, the NP's referent is the recipient of the
benefit or support implied by the feeling expressed by the main verb.
4g(8). For introducing the thing (s) which occupy one's mind, or which one's feelings
are directed to. (Hall, 1986: 62)
440. He has no love for hard work.
441. / am very sorry for the poor dogs in this country.
442. He has a strong taste for the cinema.
443. That is good enough for him.
444. It is good for him.
Collin's Cobuild's category illustrated in 4g(9) below includes two types of
usage. Example (447) is a case of the beneficiary sense discussed above. In examples
(445) and (446), on the other hand, for is used to associate an item with a person as
that which matters most or is absolutely necessary in the eyes of that person.
4g(9). "You use for when you make a statement about something in order to say how
it affects or relates to someone, or what their attitude to it is." (Collins Cobuild,
1995: 658)
445. What matters for most scientists is money and facilities...
446. For her, books were as necessary to life as bread...
447. It would be excellent experience for him to travel a little.
In examples (448) to (450) below, July 30, autumn and winter, or 7:00 indicate
the purpose of the planning, unveiling or scheduling.
4g(10). "If something is planned for a particular time, it is planned to happen then."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
448. ...the Welsh Boat Show, planned for July 30...
449. Marks & Spencer will be unveiling its latest fashions for autumn and
450. The party was scheduled for 7:00.
In (451) and (452) below, the goal of the work is to satisfy the needs of the
security firm, and that of the writing is to be broadcast on radio. In (453) the tutoring
meets the needs of the Open University. In (454) and (455), the purpose of the gift or of
the speaker's presence is to celebrate an important event.
4g(lla). "If you work or do a job for someone, you are employed by them." (Collins
Cobuild, 1995: 658)
451. / knew he worked for a security firm...
452. Have you had any experience writing for radio?
4g(llb). Employed by (OED online dictionary)
453. She is a tutor for the Open University.
4(h)"If you do something for a particular occasion, you do it on that occasion or to
celebrate that occasion." (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
454. He asked his daughter what she would like for her birthday...
455. I'll be home for Christmas.
The main sense of 'purpose' attributed to for can be explained through for's
potential meaning as an intended movement leading towards a desired result, be it in
the form of obtaining a desired object or attaining a destination.
2.5 Of Advantage or Disadvantage
The examples below demonstrate another observed use of for which
dictionaries and grammars paraphrase as 'advantage or disadvantage'.
What makes
this use offor possible is its potential meaning which evokes a movement leading to the
mobile entity occupying the space of the entity denoted by the NP following for. In the
examples below, what is interesting is the close association of the idea of purpose with
the notion of advantage or disadvantage. In (456) the purpose of breathing is for each
other. This association is also observable in (451) and (453) above.
5a(l). With the purpose or result of benefiting or gratifying; as a service to (OED: 25)
456. 'They only for each other breathe.'
5a(2). on behalf of or to the benefit of (OED online dictionary)
457. He bought the book for me.
458. I got a present for you
459. These parents aren't speaking for everyone.
5a(3). "If something is for someone, they are intended to have it or benefit from it."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
460. / have some free advice for you.
461. ...a table for two...
462. He wanted all the running of the business for himself.
5a(4). As affecting the interests or condition of (a person or thing), whether for good
or evil. In early Eng. the dative was used in this sense without prep. (OED: 25)
463. This.. bodes ill for the peace of Europe.
464. Things had.. begun to look badly for all concerned.
5b. "If someone does something for you, they do it so that you do not have to do it."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 658)
465. He picked the bracelet up for me.
5c. Governing a sb. or pers. pron. followed by an infinitive, forming a construction
equivalent to 'that he, etc. may, might, should, etc.
466. W/iat a condition for me to come to!
The examples above demonstrate that this use of for, paraphrased by
dictionaries as 'advantage or disadvantage', is possible due to for's potential meaning
which represents a movement whereby one entity is intended to occupy the space of
the entity denoted by the NP following for, resulting in a new state of benefit accruing
to the entity denoted by the NP following for.
Often this benefit takes the form of
possession or having something at one's disposal.
2.6 Of Attributed or Assumed Character
6a. "In the character of, in the light of, as equivalent to; esp. to introduce the
complement after verbs of incomplete predication, e.g. to have, hold, etc
where as or
as being may generally be substituted, to beg (a person) for a fool." (OED, 1989: 25)
468. / know for a fact that a courier was waiting.
469. Mere chronology ...is often mistaken for history.
470. 'We mistake his Blunders for Beauties.'
471. 'to leave for dead'
472. to take for granted
473. / took his story for truth.
This sense of for, according to the OED, suggests a certain correlation between
the object of for and the verb or noun preceding for. In other words, the relational
meaning according to the OED is that of equivalence, so that in the OED's example
(468) above 'I know for a fact" is equivalent to 'I know as a fact' in that the knowledge is
factual, or in (469) 'chronology' is equated (mistakenly) to 'history'. How then to
explain this use of for in light of the potential meaning being proposed here? For
represents a movement leading to a resulting situation in which the mover occupies
the space of the referent of the NP following for. The result of the movement in this
type of usage is that of achieving a certain status.
undetermined status
factual status
Position 2
Position 1
In (469) chronology is attributed the status of history, as a result of a mistake. This can
also be applied to (470), (472) and (473). In 'to leave for dead,' for instance, the result
of leaving is that of placing a person in the category 'dead'.
mere chronology
Position 1
. . : ; ■ ■ ■ .
. - . ■ - .
■ ■ ■
■ ; : : ■ : ■ . : , : ■ , : , : : . : : ■ ■ : ■ ■ : - ■ ■ - .
mere chronology
historical status
Position 2
This use offor denoting 'of attributed or assumed character' can be explained by
the fact that the referent of the noun phrase preceding for is construed as achieving a
new status as a result of a movement leading to a resulting situation in which this
referent occupies the status of the referent of the NP following/or.
2.7 C ause or Reason
It can be argued that the purpose of the action of a human agent is a cause or
reason for this action (cf Aristotle's notion of final cause). For this reason, the notions
of purpose and cause or reason are closely associated. Thus, in (474), the expression of
pure wantonness could be described as the purpose of the action of setting fire to some
of the houses, i.e. this action was performed in order to show wantonness. In (475), the
idea of purpose does not fit per se, but if one sees for fear of as implying 'in provision
for something inspiring fear' one could argue that there is a form of purpose involved
here as well.
7a. By reason of, under the influence of (a feeling or subjective condition). (OED: 25)
474. 'They had, for pure wantonness, set fire to some of the houses.'
475. 'Take your guns too, for fear of accident'
In this next group of examples, 7b(l) to 7b(3), the meaning attributed to for is
'because of, or on 'account of: Collins Cobuild (1995: 659) state that "You use for after
nouns expressing reason or cause". This is illustrated and discussed in 7b(3). If indeed
one of for's meanings is reason or cause, however, why Would for follow nouns
expressing these same notions? This raises the question of to what extent the notions
of'because' or 'reason' come from contextual factors or from for itself. Hall (1986), in
7b(2), even claims that in this use of for 'because of is its meaning. Certainly, in the
first example from the OED, (476), an interpretation of cause can be attributed to for,
given that the 'dolours' or distress is 'because of the daughters. However, this passage
could also be interpreted as expressing the idea of exchange, i.e. of Lear receiving a
certain distress in exchange for each of his daughters.
7b(l). Because of, on account of (OED: 25)
7b(la) a person or persons
476. SHAKS. Lear II. iv. 55 Thou shalt have as many dolours for thy daughters.
477. When I see many its. in a page, I always tremble for the writer.
The OED treats the object of for in this type of use as being the cause, with for
expressing the notions of 'on account of or 'because of.' However, it is also possible to
apply the notion of 'exchange' here, in that in (478) below as a result of its many
tempests the gulf has received a certain renown, in (479) in exchange for feminine
virtues a mother receives respect a nd in (480) in return for covetousness a nd
parsimony the person referred to has received notoriety.
7b(lb) a thing. Also in for cause... and after such sbs. as charge, reputation, etc., and
adjs. as sorry (OED: 25)
478. The gulf. .is., rema rka ble for tempests.
479. A mother respected.. for her feminine virtues.
480. Notorious both for covetousness and for parsimony.
■ ■■ ■■■■■■■-■■.--.■ :- . - . . - - . . - I - ...-..^.:: ■■■ ■'-■ ,,;.■..■- : \ - , : - ■
■-■■■ - " " " " ^ p
feminine virtues
:-.■ , : ■ : , : ■ ,
: ■.
: . . .,:■■
/ ..
... :.V - .-.■. ...■■■
.. '..ï
- . ■ - . .
. - . . : .
In other words, for a ssocia tes renown, respect a nd notoriety with tempests, feminine
virtues and covetousness as qualities accruing to the latter.
Hall (1986) uses examples (481) to (484) below to demonstrate what she states
as the mea ning of for, na mely, 'beca use of. However, in the first two exa mples a n
interpretation of 'exchange' can readily be applied. In (481), in exchange for 'his letter'
the person receives 'thanks', with for representing the movement of associating thanks
to the letter. As for (482), a type of exchange is also evoked in that 'shouting' is the
external manifestation of the internal state of joy which in itself cannot be seen, but
through shouting an internal emotion comes to be represented by something externally
perceivable. In (483), the reasons are desired results that the speaker wishes to attain
by not leaving the people referred to alone.
In (484), for denotes the movement
leading to the result of associating regret with the house in which the speaker's family
used to live.
7b(2). For meaning 'because of. (Hall, 1986: 60)
481. She thanked her uncle for his letter.
482. Everyone shouted for joy when they heard the news.
483. For various reasons, I did not want to leave them alone.
484. / often feel regret for the pleasant house which we lived in when we
were in France.
The examples below from Collins Cobuild illustrate the use of for following
nouns whose semantic make-up involves 'reason' or 'cause'.
In (485) below the
reasons explained in the speech are in favour of the person's decision to go. This use
of for does not evoke the notions 'reason' or 'cause' but rather that of 'in favour of or
'to the benefit of. The notions of'reason' or 'cause' come from the nouns preceding for
and not from the preposition itself. In (486) similarly there is no physical cause in
favour of Sumner's problems, and in (487) there are grounds in favour of his arrest.
7b(3). "You use/or after nouns expressing reason or cause"(Collins Cobuild,1995: 659)
485. He's soon to make a speech in parliament explaining his reasons for going...
486. The county hospital could find no physical cause for Sumner's problems...
487. He has now been formally given the grounds for his arrest
In (488) below the OED attributes to for the expression of the idea that reason
for the forgiveness was on account of regard for God's Son. The interpretation
proposed here is rather that for represents a movement in which forgiveness comes to
occupy the place of the Son, implying that the Son is the cause of forgiveness.
7c. On account of one's regard for (OED: 25)
488. Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son.
In (489) below this use of for is described as 'for the sake of such that the
sentiments of regret, sorrow, pity or concern evoked by alas are targeted towards Tiny
7d. In adjurations = for the sake of. Also in exclamations, chiefly of pain or sorrow.
489. Alas for Tiny Tim. (Dickens: Christmas Carol) (OED: 25)
In 7e below for is attributed the sense of 'consequence,' 'reason' or 'effect of by
the OED. The interpretation proposed here is rather one in which for denotes a
movement leading to a state in which a result is associated with the cause/reason that
gave rise to it. Thus instead of the cause alone, one now has the result. This
corresponds to an exchange scenario in some ways. Thus in (491) and (492)
exchange for drinking liquor and being worn a worsened state is the only reward.
le. Of an efficient or operative cause: In consequence of, by reason of, as the effect of...
Also in for want of (OED: 25)
490. They breathed the easier for the news.
491. He is worse for liquor.
492. This coat is worse for wear.
In the examples in 7f below for is credited with the notion of 'preventive cause'
or 'obstacle'. However it should be noted that it is the noun phrase following/or which
is the preventive cause or obstacle. Thus, in (493) all that refers to something evoking
'in spite of and in (494) Trees is the obstacle just as in (495)the beating of her heart is
the reason why she could not stand. In our analysis, the type of usage illustrated in
(493) is a variant of the exchange scenario in which what is obtained as a result of "all
that" is contrary to normal expectations. In the (494) type, the result of focussing too
much on the details (the trees) is not seeing the overall picture (the forest).
7f. Of a preventive cause or obstacle.
7f (a) In spite of, notwithstanding
493. For all that, I have contrived... to give some thought to my mother-tongue.
7f (b) Indicating the presence or operation of an obstacle or hindrance
494. This was like, not seeing the Wood for Trees. (1751)
495. At times she could not stand for the beating of her heart.
The sense of cause or reason attributed to for by lexicographers is explained by
the hypothesis put forward here by the fact that for denotes a movement leading to a
state in which a result is associated with the cause/reason that gave rise to it
2.8 Of Correspondence or Correlation
In the examples below, for is described as expressing the sense of
correspondence or correlation. However, the notions of correspondence or correlation
results from the relation between the nouns before and after for, which are either the
same, as in (8a) and (8b), giving rise to the notion of a one-to-one or one-to-many
correspondence, or stand in a semantic relation of correlation to one another, as in
(8c), where a term or word is matched with its referent
8a. Prefixed to the designation of a number or quantity to which another is stated to
correspond in some different relation. (Cf. similar use of to.) (OED: 26)
496. For one workable Pair of Premisses ...you will probablyfindfivethat
lead to no Conclusion at all.
8b. Preceded and followed by the same sb. (without article or defining word), in
idiomatic expressions indicating equality in number or quantity between objects
compared or contrasted, bulk for bulk: taking an equal bulk of each, word for word:
with exact identity of expression, verbatim; similarly point for point.
8c. "If one word or expression has the same meaning as a second word or expression,
you can say that the first one is another word or expression for the second one."
(Collins Cobuild, 1995: 660)
497. The technical term for sunburn is erythema ...
498. Cancer is derived from the Greek word for crab, karkinos.
Attributing the notions of correspondence or correlation to for results from a
movement leading to matching, which results in a new state of association between
two parallel items or between an attribute and an entity.
2.9 Of Reference
The next groups of examples were selected by the OED and Collins Cobuild to
illustrate the main sense of reference. Thus, the use of for in (499) below expresses the
notion of 'as regards' or 'with respect to' such that in how he managed for water could
be paraphrased as 'with respect to water'. Another interpretation would be that the
/or-phrase indicates the desired result, namely water, giving an interpretation of 'in
order to obtain'. With respect to trust to Providence for the rest, the NP following for
here could also be taken as indicating all the other things which are desired in a
In (501) for indicates that in the locus of the speaker's knowledge, all that
can be placed is the proposition it is still blank. Examples (502) and (503) imply the
desire to obtain something. In (504) for all the world evokes 'for whatever purpose
you might want to make the comparison' rather than being used simply to emphasize
9a(l). As regards, with regard or respect to, concerning. (OED, 1989: 26)
499. How he managed for water 1 could not learn.
500. Get married and trust to Providence for the rest
9a(2). So far as concerns (a person or thing). (OED, 1989: 26)
501. The consideration was left blank, and for all I know it is blank still.
9a(3). With words signifying privation or want. (OED, 1989: 26)
502. The people ... were in great distress for provisions, arms, and ammunition.
503. He need want for nothing.
9a(4). Used to emphasize assertions of likeness. (OED, 989: 26)
504. For all the world.
The next sub-sense of for within the main sense of reference according to the
OED is that of 'in proportion to' or 'considering.' Thus the OED's example in (505)
below can be paraphrased as 'considering the season, the weather is severe'; however,
another possible interpretation is that of an attribute being associated with an entity,
i.e. for denotes a movement whereby, to take (505) as an example, phenomenal
severity ends up being associated with the season in question. Examples (506) and
(507) illustrate the same sub-sense of 'in relation to other aspects'; the impressions
here can also be construed in terms of tallness being associated with a young age and
warmness with an early time of year.
9b. In proportion to, considering; considering the nature or capacity of; considering
what he, she, or it is, or that he, etc. is so and so. (OED, 1989: 26)
505. The weather... phenomenally severe for the season.
9b(l). In relation to the expected norm of: (OED online dictionary)
506. she was tall for her age.
507. warm weatherfor the time of year.
9b(2). You use for when you say that an aspect of something or someone is surprising
in relation to other aspects of them (Collins Cobuild, 1995: 659)
508. He was tall for an eight-year-old.
509. He had too much money for a young man.
The sense of reference can thus sometimes be interpreted as a movement
towards possession of a desired result, e.g. obtaining water in example (499) above or
obtaining that which is desired in a marriage in (500). In other cases, reference is
conceived as a movement resulting in an attribute being associated with some entity,
often an attribute not usually associated with the entity in question.
2.10 Of Duration and Extension
The primary function of the adverbial accusative case, according to Yamakawa
(1980: 1) "was to express destination or the goal of motion" and "this primary
connotation . . . (the goal of motion, or movement towards a goal) led to " spatial
extension or temporal duration, or extent of space or time." Thus, it can be understood
how for has come to be used to express temporal duration1 and spatial extension.
However, attributing the notion of temporal duration to for, through or throughout, is
not entirely accurate, as the nature of a verb itself is temporal and implies the notion of
duration. Consequently spatial extension or temporal duration cannot be attributed
solely to for or other prepositions.
The fact that a bare noun phrase expressing these
notions is also capable of denoting the duration or extension of an event, as in / ran 3
hours/3 miles shows that the lexical content of the NP makes a crucial contribution to
the conveying of this sense.
10a(l). Marking actual duration. During, throughout (OED, 1989: 26)
510. The catch...was worn away, and probably had been so for months.
10a (2). You use for to say how long something lasts or continues" (Collins Cobuild,
1995: 658)
511. The toaster remained on for more than an hour...
512. For a few minutes she sat on her bed watching the clock...
10b. Marking intended duration, e.g. for life (OED, 1989: 26)
513. The driver... was practically placed at the disposal of the defendants for
the day.
10c (1). Marking an amount of extension, esp. in space, lineal or superficial: Over, over
the space of, to the extent of, through. (OED, 1989: 26)
514. When a man has walked briskly even for a mile.
Through/throughout are other prepositions to which the sense of duration is often attributed.
10c(2). "You use for to say how far something extends." (Collins Cobuild,
1995: 658)
515. We drove on for a few miles.
516. Great clouds of black smoke were rising for several hundred feet or so.
As a verb implies duration since it denotes an activity or state, the sense of
duration or extension attributed to for by dictionaries and grammars is not exclusive to
for. The meaning of this preposition is capable however of expressing an accumulated
duration or spatial extension as a result achieved by the movement of the event's
subject through time or space.
3. Towards a Potential Meaning Hypothesis
The OED's main senses, with the exception of the first obsolete sense, have been
used as a template to categorize all the numerous explanations and examples of for.
Despite some incongruities in the sub-senses, such as misplaced examples and
erroneous explanations, the OED's 9 main senses were retained as being the most
thorough summary of all the uses of for in which the 37 different 'uses' of for are
reduced to 9.
Once it was determined that the OED's 9 main senses were
representative of for's use in discourse, further refinement of the preliminary postulate
regarding for's potential meaning allowed us to reduce these senses to various
movements. The results of the process of refining the primary postulate regarding the
potential meaning of for by interpreting the main senses of the preposition as mental
movements is summarized below.
Main sense:
1. BEFORE (obsolete)
A movement leading to the occupation of the position or role of
something else (i.e. constituent, spokesperson, delegate, substitute).
A new resultant state in which the substitute occupies the space
belonging to the referent denoted by the object of for.
Example; They will employ somebody to do the business for them.
A movement leading towards a resultant state of benefit accruing to
the position, opinion, person, political party, etc. designated by the
object offor.
Example: He voted/or the Liberals
A movement leading towards a desire or intention to achieve an end
result which can be understood as obtaining a desired object or attaining
a destination.
Example: It is all for her good.
A movement leading towards obtaining a resultant state of advantage or
disadvantage accruing to the referent of noun phrase object offor.
Example: Many people work only for the money.
A movement leading towards a resulting situation in which the
verb/noun/adjective preceding/or occupies a new status.
Example: / took his story for truth.
A movement leading to a state in which a result is associated with the
cause/reason that gave rise to it.
Example: She thanked her uncle for his letter.
A movement leading to matching, which results in a new
state of association between an attribute and an entity.
Example: The technical term for sunburn is erythema.
In some cases a movement leading to the prospective possession of a
desired result; in others a movement leading to matching, which results
in a new state of association between an attribute and an entity.
Example: The weather... phenomenally severe for the season
A movement leading to the accumulation of a certain spatial or temporal
Example: The toaster remained on for more than an hour.
The hypothesis as to the potential meaning of for can be depicted by the following
leading to representation
leading towards support
leading towards achieving
leading towards (dis) advantage
leading to attribution
leading to result being associated
with cause
8. leading to matching/association
9. leading to matching
10. leading to accumulated result
resultant state of X occupying Y's role
resultant state of benefit X accruing to Y
resultant state of X obtaining Y
resultant state of X being of advantage to Y
resultant state of X having the status of Y
resultant state of X being associated with Y
as a result thereof
resultant state of X being matched or
associated with Y
resultant state of X having Y as an attribute
resultant state of X achieving the extension
corresponding to Y
The various movements represented by for, as described above, to explain the 9
main senses of for can be further generalized, and grouped into 4 different types of
movement, thus reducing the OED's senses to 4 different types of movements. These
movements can be described as follows:
1. movement resulting in exchange = sense (2), (7)
2. movement resulting in attribution = sense (3), (5), (6)
3. movement resulting in achievement = senses (4), (10)
4. movement resulting in matching = senses (8), (9)
Movement 1:
The first type of movement can be described as that of exchange leading to a
new resultant state of occupation or substitution.
(movement of exchange)
Sense 2: leading to representation
new resultant state of occupation of a new
Sense 7: leading to result being
associated with cause
new state in which a result is associated
with the cause/reason which gave rise to it
Movement 2:
The second type of movement can be described as an attribution leading to a
new resultant state of benefit accruing to something or someone.
(movement of attributing)
Sense 3: leading to support
new resultant state of benefit
accruing to a position in an
Sense 5: leading to (dis) advantage
new resultant state of (dis) advantage
Sense 6: leading to attribution
resultant state of a new status
Movement 3:
The third type of movement can be described as that of obtaining or acquiring,
(movement of obtaining)
Sense 4: leading to achieving
new resultant state of obtaining
Sense 10: leading to extension
new resultant state of achieving a certain
accumulated temporal or spatial extension
Movement 4:
The fourth type of movement can be described as that of matching,
(movement of matching)
UclUI c
■ .
Sense 8: leading to association
Sense 9: leading to matching
new resultant state of association
| new resultant state of possession of something
as an attribute
3.1 For's Potential Meaning
Consequently, it is possible to propose a single potential meaning for the
preposition for which includes the four types of movement exemplified above: we
propose that the potential meaning of for involves the movement of a first entity (x) to
occupy the space belonging to some other entity (y).
This movement can be depicted
as follows:
initial situation of X
space belonging to Y
For represents a movement at the end of which X is brought into association with Y
such that X occupies the space belonging to Y.
4. Concluding Comments
The purpose of this chapter was to determine to what extent the noun phrase
object of for and other conditioning factors contribute to the intended message as a
way to discern more precisely for's potential meaning.
In addition, the proposed
potential meaning of for was applied to actual uses in discourse as categorized under
10 main senses determined by the OED and largely followed by Webster's and
reference grammars. The analysis has revealed that the various senses attributed to
for by the OED do not strictly come from for itself but instead from the conjunction of
all of the elements of the sentence. As well, some of the dictionary paraphrases like 'in
place of or 'instead of restate the overall message rather than representing the
meaning of for.
The proposed potential meaning of a movement leading to
representation, support, achieving, benefit accruing, attribution, association and
matching was applied to each of the main senses and sub-senses, resulting in a clearer
view of for's contribution to the overall message. Then, the four types of movement
represented by for were further reduced to a single description, this being the
proposed potential meaning offor.
Chapter 8
Final Conclusions
1. Preliminary Comments
The preceding chapters have presented a typical inductive approach to forming
a hypothesis with respect to the potential meaning of the prepostion for. Authentic
(rather than contrived) instances of for with respect to verbs of movement, of purpose,
of speech, and verbs of desire, often in contrast to the preposition to, were first
examined and some preliminary postulates concerning its meaning were presented.
Then, a more fine-grained analysis of the meanings of for as described by a selection of
grammars and dictionaries, especially the OED and Webster's, was undertaken with a
view to applying the observations and preliminary conclusions to these descriptors'
proposals of for's meaning. As the OED is arguably one of the foremost authorities on
word meanings, it has been used as an essential reference in this study. Moreover, the
OED's descriptions of meanings are based on thousands of actual attestations from a
wide variety of printed sources. Thus, the corpus analysis of for has directly or
indirectly involved thousands of authentic uses of for. This corresponds to a scientific
approach using the method of induction, going from observing particular uses with
specific individual examples to the general level/at which a hypothesis is formulated to
explain all of the particular facts found in the data. The next step within a fully scientific
method is to test the hypothesis, which involves going from the general, in this case a
postulated potential meaning, to specific particular uses, the process of deduction. This
was accomplished in Chapter 7.
2. Determining For's Potential Meaning
The potential meaning of for corresponds to a mental process whose locus of
existence is in the mind, as with all words. Duffley (2006: 24) states with respect to the
preposition of that "there is absolutely nothing (in the external world) that can be
pointed to as corresponding to this preposition," so that of in the phrase the city of
London evokes a "mental process whereby one aspect of London has been extracted
from the full notion, in this case the aspect of being a city." The examination of for in
phrases composed of for + NP + to-infinitive in Chapter 3 provides an example of the
mental nature of meaning. In this chapter it was argued that/or is not a lexically empty
complementizer but does contribute meaning. In particular, the abstract notion of the
infinitive's event being ear-marked for the prospective subject denoted by the NP
following for, as something which is to be associated with this subject as a result of a
transition into a new state of affairs. Our first attempt to describe the mental process
signified by for was with respect to verbs of movement. Because the data revealed a
close association to the preposition to, it was first postulated that/or's mental process
is partly characterized by a forward movement similar to the potential meaning of the
preposition to, which Duffley postulates to be a "very general notion of movement
leading to a point" (2006: 26). The contrastive pair He ran to the hills vs. He ran for the
hills revealed a significant difference between the two prepositions: where to implies
reaching the hills, with hills being the primary goal, or the end-point of the movement,
for expressed instead the desire, or intention to reach the hills, with the movement
being construed as leading towards a desired result, possibly protection in this case. In
general, the analysis of the examples of for with verbs of movement indicated that the
noun phrase following for was not simply the destination of the subject as is the case
with to; instead the notions of purpose, reason or intention were found to be associated
with for. This is obvious in the contrast of went for them vs. went to them, or come for
them vs. come to them, where with for, them is the reason or purpose with respect to
the movement of the subject, while with to, them merely indicates destination. Further
corpus evidence that the notion of purpose is a significant aspect of for's semantics is
that no examples of noun phrases indicating destination were found after the
involuntary movement verbs slip or skid or the aimless-motion verbs wander or stray.
The next step in determining/or's semantic contribution involved the analysis of
verbs implying future-oriented or forward-looking directionality, such as verbs of
request, effort, purpose or desire. For example, it was determined that for provides the
link between the verb appeal and that which is being requested in the form of direction
towards a desired result or achievement
The difference between appeal for and
appeal to was observed, with to representing a completed movement such that the
referent of the noun phrase following to is the recipient of the appeal, while it is not
known with appeal + for whether that which was appealed for was achieved or
obtained. Similarly with ask +for, it was determined that for expresses the sense of'in
order to obtain'. The verb struggle + for demonstrated that the desired result is not
necessarily attainable, suggesting that it is not merely an end-point, as would be the
case with the preposition to, but instead an object which the subject would like to
At this point the following conclusions can be made about for. First, the largest
number of uses relates to purposes, motives and intentions. Furthermore, despite the
close semantic relationship to the preposition to after verbs of movement,
intentionality is associated only with for, with the complement of for represented as
'intended recipient or 'intended destination' in contrast to to, which expresses 'actual
recipient' or 'actual destination'. Secondly, for is achievement-oriented rather than
goal-oriented and the achievement is driven by purpose and/or reason (perhaps to
obtain money, well-being, etc.).
This led to some preliminary conclusions about for's potential meaning as
bringing to the message an impression of a forward movement leading to a (desired)
result, or a resultant situation, with the movement representing a means to achieve the
desired end.
This converges with Jespersen's (1965: 257) claim that "the original
meaning of for is 'in order to obtain'." It was at this point that a closer analysis of
reference grammars and dictionary definitions, and/or uses was undertaken.
In Chapter 7, the preliminary postulate regarding /or"s potential meaning was
applied to these senses. The OED's 9 main senses were retained as being the most
thorough summary of all of the uses of for. Further refinement of the preliminary
postulate regarding /or"s potential meaning (a mental process involving movement
towards a new resultant state in which the mobile entity X occupies the space
belonging to the referent of the NP following/or) allowed us to reduce these senses to a
single meaning and provide a schematic diagram of this meaning.
3. Concluding Remarks
While the above is the first attempt at developing a hypothesis as to for's
potential meaning, we hope nevertheless to have shown that all of the uses of this
preposition can be accounted for by the notion of a movement bringing into association
two entities such that one entity comes to occupy the space belonging to the other,
resulting in four main types of expressive effects, those of exchange, attribution,
obtaining or matching. In the light of the proposed potential meaning of for, it is
possible to observe at least one major incongruency with respect to the OED's
classification of examples. This concerns the sentence We mistake his Blunders for
Beauties. The OED classifies this example under their main sense number 6 'Of
attributed or assumed character;' in fact however it is a case of the exchange sense:
Blunders comes into association with Beauties, thereby occupying the same status in
the mind of the mistaken person as the latter, leading to an expressive effect of
mistakenly exchanging Beauties for Blunders.
For does have a meaning of its own and it is this meaning as described above
that is attached to the sign in the mind of the speaker and that is available, according to
Guillaume (1984: 81) "for whichever particular contextual sense is required in
Furthermore, each of the expressive effects of exchange, attribution,
obtaining or matching is only, as Duffley (2006: 26) observes, "a partial reflection of
what the meaning is capable of conveying" because "no single use of a word exhausts
all of its potential of expression." We hope to have shown that for does have a single
general meaning which is sufficiently abstract to embrace all of its observed uses in
every possible type of context in which for occurs. Furthermore, unlike dictionaries,
which according to Ruhl (1989:1) have "one particular shortcoming," which is "a habit
of overspecifying, of attributing to words meaning that in part is supplied by context,"
we hope to have shown that all of the senses attributed to for by lexicographers are not
meanings of for, but rather paraphrases of the messages expressed by utterances
containing this preposition. While for is generally the main ingredient in the creation
of these messages, it is only one part of the story. In sum, for is neither meaningless
nor easily paraphrasable. Our efforts to describe its meaning betray the fact that, if one
is perfectly honest, one must admit that "a word's general meaning may not be
definable in conscious categories (other than by itself); however, with abundant data,
consciousness can infer the range and the limits of the meaning." (Ruhl 1989: 235)
This thesis has concentrated on determining a single potential meaning
primarily through the analysis of the occurrence of the preposition for with verbal
lexemes in a wide variety of corpora. Further research needs to focus on the adjectives
and nouns that occur typically with for and whether the potential meaning proposed
here can be applied to usage with these parts of speech as well. In addition, comparing
and contrasting for to other prepositions than to may add further refinement to the
proposed potential meaning of for. These tasks must however be left for subsequent
ASHER, R.E. and J.M.Y. SIMPSON (eds.) (1994). The Encyclopedia of Language and
Linguistics. Oxford, New York, Seoul & Tokyo: Pergamon Press.
BACZ, B. (2002). On the Image-Schema Proposals for the Preposition po in Polish.
Glossos 3:1-19.
BACZ, B. (1996). Expressions of Time in Polish. Actes du 7e Colloque international de
psychomécanique du langage. Cordoba: University of Cordoba Press, 21-34.
BATES, J. (1976). Review of David Bennett, Spatial and Temporal Uses of English
Prepositions: An Essay in Stratificational Semantics. Lingua 39: 353-368.
BATTISTELLA, E. (1984). More About Hope and Hope For. Linguistic Analysis 13: 173182.
BEAUMONT, D. and C. GRANGER (1992). The Heinemann English Grammar. Oxford:
BENNETT, D. C. (1975). Spatial and Temporal Uses of English Prepositions. London:
BENVÉNISTE, É. (1974). Pour une sémantique de la préposition vor en allemand.
Problèmes de linguistique générale II. Paris: TEL Gallimard, 137-141.
BERK, L.M. (1999). English Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
BERTHONNEAU, A.M. and P. CADIOT (eds.) (1993). Les prépositions:
Lexique 11. Lille: Presses Universitaires de Lille.
BIBER, D., S. CONRAD, and R. REPPEN. 1998. Corpus linguistics. Investigating
language structure and use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
BLOOR, T. and M. BLOOR (1995). The Functional Analysis of English. London: Arnold.
BRAME, M. (1980). Hope. Linguistic Analysis 6: 247-259.
BRESNAN, J.W. (1979). Theory of Complementation in English Syntax. New York &
London: Garland Publishing, Inc.
BR0NDAL, V. (1950). Théorie des prépositions. Copenhague: Ejnar Munksgaard.
BRORSTROM, S. (1971). A Historical Survey of Prepositions Expressing the Sense 'for
the duration of. English Studies 52:105-116.
BROWN, G. (1882). Grammar of English Grammars. New York: William Wood &
BRUGMAN, CM. (1983). Story of Over. Reproduced by L.A.U.T. (Linguistic Agency
University of Trier) 5500 Trier, Series A Paper Nr. 102.
BURNLEY, D. (1992). The History of the English Language. London and New York:
BUYSSENS, E. (1987). The Preposition for with an Infinitive Clause. English Studies
68: 336-347.
CADIOT, P. (1991). De la grammaire à la cognition: la préposition POUR. Paris:
Presses du CNRS.
CARROLL, S. (1983). Remarks on the FOR-TO Infinitives. Linguistic Analysis, 12: 415451.
CELCE-MURCIA, M. and D. LARSEN-FREEMAN (1999). The Grammar Book. Boston:
Heinle & Heinle.
CERVONI, J. (1991). La préposition. Étude sémantique et pragmatique. Paris: Duculot
CHOMSKY, N and H. LASNIK. (1977). Filters and Control. Linguistic Inquiry 8: 425504.
CIENKI, A.J. (1989). Spatial Cognition and the Semantics of Prepositions in English,
Polish, and Russian. Munchen: Verlag Otto Sagner.
COLLINS COBUILD (1997). English Grammar. London: HarperCollins.
COLLINS COBUILD (1991). English Guides 1: Prepositions. London: HarperCollins.
COLLINS COBUILD (1990). Collins Cobuild English Grammar. London and Glasgow:
COOK, J. L., A. GETHIN, and K MITCHELL (1980)'. A New Way to Proficiency in
English. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
CRYSTAL, D. (1985). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 2nd edition, London:
CRYSTAL, D. (1988). The English Language. London: Penguin Books.
CURME, G.O. (1947). English Grammar. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
DeSMET, H. (2007). FOR...TO-Infinitives as Verbal Complements in Late Modern
and Present-day English: Between Motivation and Change. English Studies 88:
DUFFLEY, P. J. (2006). The English Gerund-Participle. New York: Peter Lang.
DUFFLEY, P.J. (2004). Verbs of Liking with the Infinitive and the Gerund. English
Studies 4: 358-380.
DUFFLEY, P. J. (2000). Gerund versus Infinitive as Complement of Transitive Verbs in
English. Journal of English Linguistics 28: 221-248.
DUFFLEY, P.J. (1999). The Function of 'Subject' in Locative Inversion Constructions in
English. LACUSForum XXV: 149-155.
DUFFLEY, P.J. (1992). The English Infinitive. London: Longman.
ERDMANN, P. (1997). The for... to Construction in English. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.
FISCHER, 0.1988. The Rise of the/or NP to V Construction: An Explanation. In: Graham
Nixon/John Honey (eds.). An Historic Tongue. Studies in English Linguistics in
Memory of Barbara Strang. London: Routledge, 67-88.
FRASER, T. K.H. (1975). The Preverbs For- and Fore- in Old English. Studies in
English Grammar. A. Joly and T. Fraser (ed.) Paris: Université de Lille, III Éditions
Universitaires, 19-28.
FRIES, CC. (1940). American English Grammar. New York: Appeton-Century-Crofts,
GARSON, J-W. (1981). Prepositional Logic. Logique et Analyse 24: 3-33.
GIVÔN, T. (1993). English Grammar. A Function-Based Introduction. Amsterdam:
John Benjamins Publishing Company.
GRUNTMAN, C (2000). For and During: What is the Difference of Meaning? Mémoire
de maîtrise non publié, Université Laval.
GUILLAUME, G. (1997). Leçons de linguistique de Gustave Guillaume, vol. 15: 19511952, Série A Psychosystématique du langage. Principes, methods et applications
(IV). Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval; Paris: Klincksieck.
GUILLAUME, G. (1984). Foundations for a Science of Language. Amsterdam and
Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
GUILLAUME, G. (1971). Leçons de linguistique de Gustave Guillaume, vol. 2: 1948-1949,
Série B Psychosystématique du langage. Principes, methods et applications (I).
Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval; Paris: Klincksieck.
HALL, D. (1986). Working with English Prepositions. Hong Kong: Thomas Nelson and
Sons Ltd.
HANTSON, A. (1979). Which For Can Survive after Hope? Series A, Paper No. 60 Trier:
HANTSON, A. (1980). For, With and Without as Non-Finite Clause Introducers. Linguistic
Agency University of Trier) Series A, Paper No. 69 Trier: L.A.U.T.
HASPELMATH, M. (1997). From Space to Time: Temporal Adverbials in the World's
Languages. Munchen and Newcastle: Lincom Europa.
HERSKOVITS, A. (1986). Language and Spatial Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Study of
Prepositions in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
HEWSON, J. and V. BUBENIK. (2006). From Case to Adposition: The development of
configurational syntax in Indo-European languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
John Benjamins Publishing Company.
HEWSON, J. (1997). The Typological Shift to Configurational Syntax in Indo-European
Languages. In Linguistic Reconstruction and Typology. Berlin and New York:
Mouton de Gruyter, 123-132.
HILL, LA. (1968). Prepositions and Adverbial Particles. London: Oxford University
HIRTLE, W.H. (2007). Language in the Mind. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's
University Press.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1998). On the Obvious Ability of People to Speak. In Productivity and
Creativity: Studies in General and Descriptive Linguistics in Honor of E.M.
Uhlenbeck. M Janse, (ed.), Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 93-101.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1997). Making Sense Out of Meaning: Essays in Lexical Semantics.
Université Laval, Québec, Fonds Gustave Guillaume, unpublished ms.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1995). Guillaume: A Meaning-Based Approach. LACUS 21 (1994),
Mava Jo Powell (éd.), Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States,
Lake Bluff, Illinois, 77-86.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1994). Meaning and Referent: for a Linguistic Approach. Word 45:103117.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1993). The Word: Why? Proceedings of the Fifthteenth International
Congress of Linguists. André Crochetière, Jean-Claude Boulanger and Conrad
Ouellon (eds.), Sainte-Foy: Les Presses de L'Université Laval, 47-58.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1989). The Challenge of Polysemy. From Sign to Text. A Semiotic View
of Communication. Yishai Tobin (éd.), Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John
Benjamins, 135-141.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1985). Linguistics and the Dimensions of Language: An Overview of
Guillaume's Theory. Lingua 67: 65-83.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1984). Foundations for a Science of Language by Gustave Guillaume, cotranslator (with J. Hewson). Amsterdam: J. Benjamins.
HIRTLE, W.H. (1975). For and During: A Working Paper. In Studies in English
Grammar, André Joly and T. Fraser (eds.), Lille: Presses Universitaires de Lille,
HIRTLE, W.H. (1975b). Time, Aspect and the Verb. Québec: Les Presses de
L'Université Laval.
HURFORD, J.R. (1994). Grammar. A Student's Guide. Glasgow: Cambridge University
JACKSON, H. (1991). Grammar and Meaning: A Semantic Approach to English
Grammar. London: Longman.
JACKSON, H. (1980). Analyzing English: An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics.
Oxford: Pergamon Press.
JARAD, N. (2000). The Origin and Reanalysis of for as a Complementizer. Proceedings of
the 9th Student Conference in Linguistes, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 36:
JESPERSEN, 0. (1965). A Modem English Grammar on Historical Principles, 7 vols.
London: George Allen and Unwin.
JOLY, A. (1987). Essais de systématique énonciative. France: Presses Universitaires de
KEMP, J.A. (1972). John Wallis's Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
KENNEDY, G. (1998). An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics. London and New York:
KIPARSKY, P. and C KIPARSKY (1970). 'Fact'. In Progress in Linguistics: A Collection of
Papers, M. Bierwisch and K.-E. Heidolph (eds.) The Hague/Paris: Mouton, 143173.
KNEPLER, M. (1990). Grammar with a Purpose. New York: Maxwell MacMillan.
KOLLN, M. (1982). Understanding English Grammar. New York: MacMillan
Publishing Co.
KÔNIG, E. (1974). The Semantic Structure of Time Prepositions in English.
Foundations of Language 11: 551-563.
KORREL, L. (1991). Duration in English. A Basic Choice, Illustrated in Comparison with
Dutch. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
LANGACKER, R. W. (1992). Prepositions as Grammatical(izing) Elements. LeuvenseBijdragen 81: 287-309.
LANGACKER, R. W. (1991a). Concept, Image, and Symbol: the Cognitive Basis of
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
LANGACKER, R.W. (1991b). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, Vol. II: Descriptive
Application. Stanford/California: Stanford University Press.
LANGACKER, R.W. (1987). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, Vol. I: Theoretical
Prerequisites. Stanford/California : Stanford University Press.
LANGENDOEN, D.T. (1970). Essentials of English Grammar. New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, Inc.
LASS, R. (1994). Old English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
LEECH, G. (1992). Introducing English Grammar. London: Penguin.
LEEMAN, D. (1997). Sur la préposition 'en'. Faits de Langues 9:135-143.
LINDNER, S. (1982). What Goes Up Doesn't Necessarily Come Down: The Ins and Outs
of Opposites. In Proceedings of the 18th Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society,
305-323, Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
LINDSTROMBERG, S. (1998). English Prepositions Explained.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Com.
LINDSTROMBERG, S. (1996). Prepositions: meaning and method. ELT Journal 50:
LILES, B.L. (1971). An Introductory Transformational Grammar. New Jersey:
Prentice-Hall, Inc.
LOCKWOOD, W.B. (1968). Historical German Syntax. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
LOWE, R. (1996a). The Internal Syntax of the Eskimo Word. In F. TOLLIS (dir.), LynX (A
Monographic Series in Linguistics and World Perception, Published jointly by
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis,
U.S.A. and Departament de Teorîa dels Languatges, Universitat de Valencia,
Espana), The Psychomecanics of Language and Guillaumism 5: 74-99.
LOWE, R. (1996b). L'analyse des prépositions "à" et "de" dans le cadre d'une syntaxe
operative. Kalimatal-BalamandLinguistique 3: 65-82.
LOWTH, R. (1794). A Short Introduction to English Grammar. Basel: J.J. Tourneisen.
LYONS, J. (1995). Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge Universtiy Press.
MACDONALD, R. R. (1972). Prepositions of Time in English. Languages &
Linguistics: Working Papers 4: 94-110.
MAIR, C (1987). For/To-infinitival Clauses in Comtemporary British English. English
Studies 6: 545-559.
MENZEL, P. (1975) Semantics and Syntax in Complementation. The Hague/Paris:
MERRIAM-WEBSTER. (1989). Webster's Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
MICHAEL, I. (1970). English Grammatical Categories. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
MINDT, D. (1989). Prepositions in LOB and Brown. ICAMEJournal 13: 67-70.
MITCHELL, B. (1980). Prepositions, Adverbs, Prepositional Adverbs, Postpositions,
Separable Prefixes or Inseparable Prefixes in Old English. Neuphilologische
Mitteilungen 81: 313-317.
MITCHELL, B. (1987). Old English Syntax, vol I. Oxford: Oxford English Press.
MITCHELL, B. and F.C. ROBINSON (1992). A Guide to Old English. Oxford UK &
Cambridge USA: Blackwell.
MURPHY, R. (1989). English Grammar in Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MUSTANOJA, T.F. (1960). A Middle English Syntax. Société Néophilologique: Helsinki.
NIEDZIELSKI, H. (1979). Lexical Realization of Benefactive and Beneficiary in Polish
and English. Papers and Studies in Contrastive Linguistics 9:165-180.
OXFORD CANADIAN DICTIONARY (1989). Toronto: Oxford University Press.
OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (1989). 2nd Ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
PEETERS, B. (1996). Review of PIERRE CADIOT, De la grammaire à la cognition. La
préposition pour. Paris: Editions du CNRS. 1991. Word 47: 407-409.
POUTSMA, H. (1926). Grammar of Late Modem English. Groningen: P. Noordhoff.
QUIRK, R. and S. GREENBAUM (1990). A Student's Grammar of the English
Language. London: Longman.
QUIRK, R., S. GREENBAUM, G. LEECH and J. SVARTVIK (1985). A Comprehensive
Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
QUIRK, R. and CL.WRENN (1979). An Old English Grammar. London: Methuen &
Co Ltd.
RAUH, G. (ed.) (1991). Approaches to Prepositions. Tubingen: Narr.
ROBINSON O.W. (1992). Old English and Its Closest Relatives. Stanford: Stanford
University Press.
ROSENBAUM, P. (1967). The Grammar of English
Constructions. Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press.
RUDANKO, J (1988). On the Grammar of For Clauses in English. English Studies 5:
RUDANKO, J (1984). On Some Contrasts between Infinitival and That Complement
Clauses in English. English Studies 65:141-161.
RUHL, C (1989). On Monosemy. Albany: State University of New York Press.
SAITO, H. (1932). Saito's Practical English Grammar. Tokyo: S.E.G. Press (ed.).
SANDHAGEN, H. (1956). Studies on the Temporal Senses of the Prepositions at, on, in, by
and for in Present-day English. Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells.
SANDRA, D. and S. RICE (1995). Network Analyses of Prepositional Meaning: Mirroring
Whose Mind—the Linguist's or the Language User's? Cognitive Linguistics 6-1:
SCHIBSBYE, K. (1970). A Modern English Grammar. London: Oxford University
SCHULZE, R. (1993). The Meaning of (a)round : A Study of an English Preposition. In
Geiger, A. & Rudzka-Ostyn, B. (eds.) 1993. Conceptualizations and Mental
Processing in Language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 399-431.
SCHULZE, R. (1987). The Perception of Space and the Function of Prepositions in
English : A Contribution to Cognitive Grammar. In Perspectives on Language in
Performance. Studies in Linguistics, Literary Critisism, and Language Teaching
and Learning. Lorscher, W./Schulze, R. eds. Series A, Paper No. 184. Duisburg:
Linguistic Agency University of Duisburg, 1-34.
SEPPANEN, A. (1981). ~ Two Points of English Verb Syntax. Neuphilologische
Mitteilungen 82: 386-399.
SIMPSON, J.A. and E.S.C WEINER (eds.) (1989). The Oxford English Dictionary.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.
SPRENGEL, K. (1977). A Study in Word-Formation. Tubingen: TBL Verlag Gunter
STOKOE, H.R. (1937). The Understanding of Syntax. London: William Heinemann Ltd.
SVARTVIK, J. (1988). English Prepositions in Applied Linguistics. Essays on the
English Language and Applied Linguistics on the Occasion of Gerhard Nickel's 60th
Birthday. Klegraf, J. & Nehls, D. (eds.) Heidelberg: Julius Groos, 397-406.
SWAN, M. (1995). Practical English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
THEWLIS, S. H. (1997). Grammar Dimensions, Book Three, 2nd Ed. New York: Heinle &
Heinle Publishers.
THOMSON, A.J. and A.V. MARTINET (1963). A Practical English Grammar for Foreign
Students. London: Oxford University Press.
TODAKA, Y. (1996). Between and Among: A Data-Based Analysis. Word 47:14-40.
TYLER, A. and V. EVANS. (2003). The Semantics of English Prepositions. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
UNGERER, F. and H-J. SCHMID. (1996). An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics.
London: Longman.
VANDELOISE, C (1994). Methodology and Analyses of the Preposition IN. Cognitive
Linguistics 5:157-184.
WAGNER, S. (2000). Depends How Long You Want For It To Take. AAA, Arbeiten aus
Anglistik und Amerikanistik 25:191-211.
WEBSTER'S. (1991). Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA:
WEBSTER'S. (1969). Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language.
Springfield, MA: Merriam.
WEGE, B. (1991). On the Lexical Meaning of Prepositions: A Study of Above, Below and
Over. In Approaches to Prepositions. Rauh, G. (ed.) Tubingen: Narr, 275-296.
WHITELOCK, D. (1988). Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
WIERZBICKA, A. (1993). Why Do We Say in April, on Thursday, at 10 o'clock? In Search
of an Explanation. Studies in Language 17.2: 437-454.
YAMAKAWA, K. (1980). The Adverbial Accusative of Duration and its Prepositional
Equivalent. Part I. Old and Middle English. Hitotsubashi Journal of Arts and
Sciences 21:1-39.
YNGVE, V.H. (1986). Linguistics as a Science. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana
University Press.