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In my mother tongue both for and to have the same meaning, therefore it is hard for (is it being correctly used here?) me to know when I should use one instead of the other.
After some google's searches into the question I verified that the former must be used when we want to refer to a purpose or when something is to the benefit of somebody.
The latter is used when something is moved or transferred between locations or in the direction of a location.

For instance:

We are going to open this plan for public discussion to individuals and organizations interested in maintaining and advancing Thunderbird in the future.

In the above sentence I'm still unable to understand why we use those prepositions; can anyone help on the subject?

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closed as general reference by rudra, Mahnax, Daniel, jwpat7, Bravo Jul 10 '12 at 3:14

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Prepositions are little words with many meanings, often overlapping. This sentence is a good example of that; you could swap the 'for' and 'to' and the sentence would essentially mean the same thing. –  J.R. Jul 9 '12 at 23:56
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It is hard for me to know is not a usage of either preposition; theyre infinitive complementizers. For marks the subject and to marks the verb of an infinitive clause. This has nothing to do with any other meaning of for or to. For instance. As J.R. says, there are many meanings, often overlapping -- but sometimes not, as here. –  John Lawler Jul 10 '12 at 0:02
    
John, are you saying that for here is not being used as a preposition ? –  utxeee Jul 10 '12 at 13:11

2 Answers 2

First, if you really want to compare and contrast those two, of course you have to start by making your examples parallel.

For instance, both "for" and "to" are used to talk about purpose:

  1. I went to the supermarket to buy oranges.

  2. I went to the supermarket for oranges.

  3. A knife is used for cutting.

Now, you can start looking into how they differ.

Second, be careful not to mix up Infinitives, Prepositions that are part of Phrasal Verbs, and Prepositions that just often go together with the Verbs. Because if you consider all these simultaneously (like what you're doing in your question above), you won't be able to make sense of things.

Just a few examples:

  1. We are looking forward to meeting you.

  2. He went to them.

  3. I bought the gift for my mother.

  4. He threw the ball to me.

  5. I am looking for the supervisor.

  6. I am planning for a trip.

Of course all these are valid examples, but there are different and separate ways of learning them.

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I think you've already answered your own question. However, I wish to point out that (while technically incorrect) I have always found the colloquial use of both together to be quite charming. "What is the use of putting all of this effort in for to understand, anyway? You still know what I mean." :P

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