• 1 He has no intention for marriage.
  • 2 He has no intention of marriage.

These two sentences are good English and have the same meaning.

In this PDF I read:

A review of the grading permit showed that the permit had not been modified from its original *purpose which was for a minimum use driveway for a mobile home.

Now, since intention means almost the same thing as purpose, could these sentences be okay?

  • 3 He has no purpose for marriage.
  • 4 He has no purpose of marriage.
  • 1
    Don't confuse semantics & grammar this way. It doesn't matter that word A means the same as word B; the usage rules that govern each word may be quite different: they aren't dependent on meaning. I don't know where in the Anglophone world those first two sentences are "good English", but certainly not in the USA, where they're not idiomatic, as Sven Yargs says. "Intention" & "purpose" are only sometimes synonymous, but not in those two sentences: the 1st means He doesn't plan to marry, the 2nd, He has no use for marriage. Your PDF sentence has a different structure from the others.
    – user21497
    Feb 13 '13 at 3:07
  • I suggested "The purpose of..." versus "the purpose for..." — which one is proper? as a possible duplicate, but that question is about “purpose for” vs “purpose of”, rather than about “purpose” vs “intention”. Feb 13 '13 at 3:16
  • 1
    My 7th grade English teacher told us that "ominous means threatening but that doesn't mean I can say, 'The bully was ominous that small boy on the playground.'"
    – Jim
    Feb 13 '13 at 3:58

I don't know what the relevant idioms are elsewhere in the English-speaking world, but in the United States, none of these four sentences would be used by a native English speaker. The closest I can get to a sentence that combines intention and marriage in the sense suggested above is "He has no intentions with regard to marriage"—but the more normal way to express that idea would be something along the lines of "He has no intention of getting married" or (to preserve the noun marriage) "He has no interest in marriage."

I can't think of any sentence that combines purpose and marriage as intended here in a normal-sounding way.

  • 1
    Could the ".... purpose which was for a minimum use drive way" example in my question about poorly written?
    – user37548
    Feb 13 '13 at 3:04
  • @fifem: It's missing a comma after purpose, but otherwise it's semantically fine. It's just not similar in structure to your example sentences and the usage rules that govern it are quite different.
    – user21497
    Feb 13 '13 at 3:10
  • 1
    Also, I think it's important to note Jon Hanna's comment regarding the dissimilarity of intention and purpose. In some contexts the terms seem almost interchangeable, but in others, either exigencies of idiomatic usage or differences in the definitions themselves show up markedly. That's what I think happens in the context of the four original sentences about marriage.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 13 '13 at 3:17

I take it that the sense you have in mind is what would be expressed most simply as

He does not intend to marry.

Sentence 1 will not bear this sense: to have an intention for something means to intend to do something with it. Thank you for the award. My intention for it is to fund a new research project. He has intentions for his daughter: he wants to see that she gets a professional education.

Sentence 2 is acceptable, but rather old-fashioned. Today we would be more likely to say

He has no intention of marrying.

Purpose and intention mean somewhat different things: your intention is, generally, what you are trying to do, while your purpose is what you hope to achieve by doing it. Accordingly, you can't really substitute purpose for intention in the same context. And to speak of someone having no purpose generally means exactly that—

He has no purpose in life.
He has no purpose in courting her, he’s just fooling around for lack of anything better to do.

When we want to deny a specific purpose, it will usually be in the context of specific actions. For instance, you observe that a man is paying court to a woman and say

[He is courting Sarah, but] marriage is not his purpose. [He's just trying to make Polly jealous.]
[He is courting Sarah, but] his purpose is not to marry her. [He wants to learn her father's secrets.] [He is courting Sarah, but] not with the purpose of marriage. [He intends to steal her diamonds.]

You can also say

[He is courting Sarah, but] has no purpose to marry her. [The cad!]

But this, again, is very old-fashioned.

As for the sentence you quote:

... the permit had not been modified from its original purpose which was for a minimum use driveway ...

This is an awkward sentence; but the for really belongs not to purpose but to permit. The writer has compressed two different ways of expressing the idea:

The original permit was for a minimum use driveway.
The purpose of the original permit was to license construction of a minimum use driveway.

  • I am confused with ...to intend to do something with it. Is it like I intend to continue my job with honour.?
    – Mistu4u
    Feb 13 '13 at 4:05
  • 1
    @Mistu4u See my edit. Feb 13 '13 at 4:32

He has no intention of marriage.


He has no intention for marriage.

We're told that God has intentions for marriage, and society has intentions for marriage. These intentions are allegedly why marriage exists.

One might have an intention for marriage as in "his only intention for the marriage was to get a visa".

Now, because "intention" almost means the same thing as "purpose"

They are related words, but they're far from perfect synonyms. Your purpose is your reason, your intention is your hoped for outcome. Even in cases that fit the overlap, would use them differently:

The last time I was in a church, it was for the purpose of getting married.

The last time I was in a church, it was with the intention of getting married.

But your use is not in this overlap, I have several intentions. I do things for various purposes. A tool has a purpose.