When do you use approach for, and when do you use approach to?

(How can I answer questions like this? In which dictionaries should I look? How do I google it?)

The reason to ask this question is an argument with my friend: what's right, approach to caching or approach for caching? (Caching in the software engineering sense)

(But I'd like to hear more general answer.)

  • Really you should try to come with examples, as there's little or no context here. Jul 25, 2011 at 1:26
  • 1
    It would be nice if you wrote an example sentence. Is "approach" there a verb or a noun?
    – Alenanno
    Jul 25, 2011 at 11:24
  • noun. "one of the simplest approaches to caching is..."
    – valya
    Jul 25, 2011 at 13:25
  • 1
    It seems to me that the usage of “approach to smth” is not as common as «подход к …» we use in Russian. Try to google "way of caching" or "method for caching" (w/ quotes), they are much more often used than both "approach for caching" and "approach to caching". From those two, the former is more popular. Mar 22, 2013 at 12:27
  • I had the same quandry on "an approach to prolonging the life of.." vs "an approach for prolonging the life of..."
    – Mishax
    Aug 1, 2014 at 12:21

4 Answers 4


approach to NOUN

When used as a verb, 'approach' takes no preposition. However, when as a noun, it requires a preposition, otherwise you end up with two nouns in a row: "The pilot's approach [ ] the runway was too low." The question is which preposition is most appropriate.

Using the more literal example I gave above, it's easy to see why 'to' is more appropriate than 'for', and this still holds for more abstract uses:

"my approach to the problem"

"an iterative approach to the travelling salesman problem"


Oh good grief — this person is trying to use "approach to" or "approach for" as a noun, folks. It's a valid question.

  • What is your approach to teaching English?
  • What is your approach for teaching English?

I think both are correct, but the former sounds more natural to me.


I'm sorry, but Charles Goodwin is right. The "approach" itself doesn't take a preposition at all.

I'm approaching you.

Obviously, if I'm approaching you for a reason or to get some results has nothing to do with the approaching itself.

I might just as well use another verb and the situation would be the same:

I'm approaching you for a reason.
I'm flattering you for a reason.


I'm approaching you to get some results.
I'm flattering you to get some results.

Please observe how for introduces a noun (a reason) and to introduces a verb (to get). That's why in some cases you should use for and in others you should use to.

Now the catch with the caching is that it can be both a noun (the caching) and a verb (to cache as the gerundive mood). So obviously both forms are correct!

Happy caching, don't forget to invalidate often and have fresh data for your users :)

  • Thanks for the answer! Could someone add references? How about answering the second part of the question - namely where one should look for answers to questions of this type
    – Dror
    Aug 1, 2013 at 14:12

It sounds like you inadvertently are conflating the verb "approach" with the usage of verbs attached to the other subjects of the sentence.

In trying to come up with use cases for both:

Shall I approach for advice [from him]

Maybe I will approach to get an answer

I lack the technical knowledge to describe it more correctly, hopefully somebody else will elaborate.

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