I am confused about when to use "to verb" and when to use "for verb+ing" constructs. For example what would be the proper construct for the following sentences extracted from scientific journals:

A chemically reactive Raman probe with femtomolar sensitivity was developed for monitoring/to monitor ROS generated in living cells.

Another example:

As the metabolism products,ROS are very important in cell signaling and homeostasis to regulate/for regulating a whole wide range of biological functions.

Which construct should be used and when?

  • 2
    In those cases, there is no difference. Both constructions identify the purpose of the probe, and ROS, respectively; and among the many varieties of purpose clauses are for + gerund, and to + infinitive. No difference in meaning. It is usually the case that one can use several different constructions with the same sense; the choice is the speaker's. Jun 10 '13 at 15:55
  • I would personally develop something to do something and use it for something. Second sentence similarly, it is important to regulate so the metabolism uses something for regulating... I can see it vice versa, but my personal taste is what I mentioned
    – mplungjan
    Jun 10 '13 at 16:34

I think there can be a slight difference between...

y for fooing n

y to foo n

In the first case, 'for fooing n', y is contributing to n, either by complement or composition, but not necessarily the primary or controlling subject or activity.

In the second case, 'to foo n', y is the primary or controlling subject of the activity.

Another example might demonstrate this a bit more clearly:

I use a toothbrush for brushing my teeth.

I use a toothbrush to brush my teeth.

I use toothpaste for brushing my teeth.

I use toothpaste to brush my teeth.

In these examples, it should be clear which is optional for the activity, but strongly advised, and which is essential.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.