I want to write about someone who is addicted to alcohol. Should I say,

"He keeps going back for it."


"He keeps going back to it."

where "it" refers to "alcohol."

And please explain the difference between the two phrases, "going back for it" and "going back to it."


  • Please note that the most common expression for someone who keeps "going back to it" i.e. alcohol...is usually referred to as always "falling off the wagon". – Cascabel Oct 6 '19 at 21:31

I think going back for it means someone is going back to anywhere to drink alcohol.

In this case someone could go anywhere.

However, going back to it means that someone is going back to the certain place that the alcohol is existed, physically.

So, in the first sentence, someone can drink alcohol in there he gone or not. It is not sure. However, in the latter case, someone can drink alcohol in there.

I think for your case and goal, it would be better to use the going back for it.

  • This answer is confusing and could do with some supporting citations from a dictionary. – Cascabel Oct 6 '19 at 14:32
  • BTW...not my DV... – Cascabel Oct 6 '19 at 14:45
  • I am not sure what you mean. confusing. – topDev Oct 6 '19 at 15:21
  • What does "So, in the first sentence, someone can drink alcohol *in there he gone or not. " mean? And "...to the certain place that the alcohol *is existed, physically."? Also, your answer would definitely benefit from some supporting documentation. – Cascabel Oct 6 '19 at 15:21
  • It means when you used the going back for it, we are not sure the man who go can drink alcohol or can not do it. Is it clear? – topDev Oct 6 '19 at 15:23

Being a professional author, I have found this to be a very common problem. This is one of those cases of: what the writer means vs how the reader interprets it. If we are to interpret these two sentences in the most-literal sense—regardless of what you mean; and offering, as they do, no other information but what might come before these sentences—“going back FOR it” suggests going back for (some, or more) alcohol; whereas “going back TO it” suggests going back to alcoholism (going back to drinking). In other words, going back FOR A bottle vs going back TO THE bottle. See what I mean?

So, if “it” is referring to alcohol (the drink) as apposed to alcoholism (the addiction), then “He keeps going back for it” is the more-correct sentence.

That said, however, neither of these sentences is a complete thought (or complete sentence), which causes this problem in the first place. The easiest solution is to simply offer more information—“Because he can’t ‘just say no,’ he keeps going back for it.”

Hope this helps.

NOTICE: The content of this comment is based on and according to American Standard English (formally American Broadcast English), the most correct form of English in the world today.

  • 2
    "American Standard English, the most correct form of English in the world today". I'm pretty sure the English would disagree with you there, to say nothing of the Canadians and Australians. – DJClayworth Oct 6 '19 at 16:04

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