Which of the two is grammatical or is better in style — "report for work" or "report to work"?

I've always used the first, "report for work", following the pattern of "report for duty", which I always hear law-enforcement folks use.


Both are equally correct. You report to (your place of) work in order to report for (your assigned) work, so they imply each other and are equivalent in how people use them. Notice that "work" has a different meaning in each phrase (one is a location/building, one is a set of tasks or duties), even though the overall phrases end up having the same meaning.

As an aside, only "report for duty" is correct, since "duty" is not a place that you can report to, making *"report to duty" ungrammatical.

  • Which do I use if I want to say that someone is absent - She did not (report for) or (report to) work? – Princess Nina Sep 8 '12 at 20:42
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    @PrincessNina Again, both are correct. Negating the phrase doesn't change their correctness. – SevenSidedDie Sep 8 '12 at 20:44
  • I agree with your answer, although one can say "report to duty" – it simply means report to the place where you start your duty. (Your overarching point is exactly right, though, either preposition can be used; neither is "more appropriate" than the other.) – J.R. Sep 8 '12 at 23:30
  • @J.R. I've never heard "report to duty", but then I don't have a military background in the least. I'd be skeptical of it if I did hear it, though. It seems more likely an erroneous application of the "report to work" pattern, like "runned" is a misapplication of the -ed pattern. – SevenSidedDie Sep 9 '12 at 2:22
  • @SevenSidedDie: I did spend some time in the military, so perhaps that's why the phrase sounds more "normal" to me, but the usages in the link I provided show plenty of non-military contexts as well; e.g., “Hospital workers’ willingness to report to duty in an influenza pandemic,” “In a company, maintenance persons report to duty at the beginning every 4-hour interval,” “The [post office] employee was being charged with failure to report to duty as assigned,” “[Police] Officer Hewett is scheduled to report to duty at 3 p.m. this afternoon,” and so forth. – J.R. Sep 9 '12 at 8:04

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