I have the following phrase, or something like it:

  • That's for to learn grammar.

I guess it's a common kind of construction, if confusing / malformed. Could I read it as missing an elided e.g. name?

  • That's for Pat to learn grammar.

But I especially wondered if "to learn" could be read as an infinitive (I don't think it is in the 1st interpretation?). I'm curious because I think it can make sense to replace "to learn" with an adjective:

  • That's for easy grammar.

And "to learn" I think can be an infinitive adjectival phrase:

  • The best way to learn is lots of questions.

More generally, are there well formed sentences which say "... for [infinitive]..."?


We don’t use the infinitive (with or without to) after prepositions:

Lemon juice is useful for cleaning stained surfaces in the kitchen.

Not: … is useful for clean … or … for to clean …

Though perhaps 'for' as the conjunction meaning because can appear before an infinitive

  • For to sleep so long is foolish
  • correct me if that's not an infinitive in the last sentence – user3293056 May 21 '17 at 6:43

This construction crops up in poetry or lyrics, but is not idiomatic, ie is not used in normal language. eg in this folk song:

Springfield Mountain

(Traditional / Roger McGuinn)

On Springfield Mountain there did dwell
Right - tum - a - new - rife - a - lime - a - diddle - do
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell tum - a - row
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell a handsome youth I knew full well
Right - tum - a - new - rife - a - lime - a - diddle - do

One Monday morning he did go
Right - tum - a - new - rife - a - lime - a - diddle - do
One Monday morning he did go tum - a - row
One Monday morning he did go Down in the meadow for to mow
Right - tum - a - new - rife - a - lime - a - diddle - do

See the second-last line. In this instance, "for" may be used simply to pad out the line to the required rhythm.

  • 3
    It is not idiomatic anymore, but it was very common in certain dialects previously. You still hear it sometimes in Hibernian English, and it is exceedingly common in Irish folk songs. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 20 '17 at 8:48
  • @JanusBahsJacquet by Hibernian do you mean "Scottish English (but not not gaelic)?" – Max Williams Jul 20 '17 at 8:56
  • No, Irish English (and not Gaelic, though an equivalent preposition meaning ‘for’, such as chun or fá choinne, would be used in Gaelic in similar contexts, too). Scottish English would be Caledonian, I suppose, though I’ve never seen anyone talk about ‘Caledonian English’, whereas Hiberno-English is quite common. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 20 '17 at 8:59
  • aha, I might have been thinking of the Edinburgh football team "Hibernian", which are sort of the Edinburgh equivalent of Glasgow Celtic, ie proudly displaying their Irish heritage. Makes sense, thanks :) – Max Williams Jul 20 '17 at 9:37

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