I have the following sentence and I need your help:

"The buildings have a combined storage that serves (for) both space heating and domestic hot water."

Is 'for' necessary in this sentence?

I'd appreciate every comment and would be thankful for your help.

  • Why not just replace serves for (which I find slightly unnatural anyway) with services? That would dispense with any and all confusion. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


I believe that "for" is a helpful shorthand that implies "for the purposes of" or "to support the supply of". As such it is a helpful addition to the sentence, which otherwise has hints of ambiguity in it. Some might understand that the storage serves (i.e. delivers) heating and hot water, which may or may not be true, depending on the technical details.

  • The 'to support the supply of' reading makes sense here. But a good answer on ELU will contain at least an independent example (and preferably a dictionary listing) to support a mooted usage. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 10:22
  • [M-W] has an overlapping (though not quite as good as yours) definition, together with an example sentence containing 'serve for'. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 11:40
  • Kind remarks. Thank you. There is always a tension between seeking precedent and authority, and analysing from scratch. Each has its charms, although I tend to the second, feeling it to be more immediate, to concentrate the mind on the question rather than seeking what can occasionally be misleading parallels. I know I get it wrong sometimes, but so do those who have too quick a recourse to authority. Life is short; we do our best.
    – Anton
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 23:06
  • But it is expressly stated on ELU that answers containing linked and attributed supporting references / examples from recognised authors are much preferred. Doing one's best should include trying to keep to the rules, or finding somewhere with different rules. Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 14:11
  • I like your contributions so I smile wryly. I don’t want to do anything other than help those who ask it, so feel no need to find other sites merely as an ego trip. Life is too short. I edit substantial amounts of material and the search for clarity and understanding is not always helped by slavishly seeking authoritative antecedents. Meaning and understanding matter more and come first. What does “Ulysses”, for example, have to offer most of us in our search for clear communication?
    – Anton
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 22:54

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