Confusing words: For and To (for Brazilian speakers)

This is a typical mistake of Brazilian speakers because “for” and “to” translates into: “para”.

“The present is for Thomas.” –> O presente é para o Thomas.

“Say hello to your wife.” –> “Diga oi para a sua esposa.

This is an explanation designed for Brazilian students. These are NOT rules written in stone, they are just general guidelines to help ESL students (especially Portuguese speakers) better grasp this concept.

A simple solution is to consider:

“to” = “para”


“for” = “por”

I’m glad to for your support – Estou feliz por (poder contar) com seu suporte.

TO Is used with verbs as you all know (e.g. the verb “to be”).

It is also used in cases where a “transfer” happens.


I will give this book to you. (from me to you)
I will go to work. (from home to work)
I will talk to her. (information goes from me to her)

TO indicates a destination:


I sent a present to him.

I gave the present to her.

FOR indicates “for the good of”:


I did it for her.

The present is for him.

and “for the benefit”


I will do that for you.
FOR also indicates purpose:


This brush is for painting.

Here is two examples with both:

Give this book to him but it is for his father.
I will speak to her for you.

Try these exercises:

Q1 – I stopped _____ (for/to) a break.

Q2 – I stopped ____ (for/to) have a break.

Q3 – I was stopped ____ (for/to) driving through a red light.

Q4 – She was promoted ____ (for/to) manager.

Q5 – She was promoted ____ (for/to) her dedication.

Q6 – He tried ____ (for/to) kill him.

Q7 – He was tried ____ (for/to) murder and found guilty.

Q8 – It was hard ____ (for/to) finish.

Q9 – He made it ____ (for/to) me.

Q10 – She gave it ____ (for/to) me when I arrived.


A1 – for

A2 – to

A3 – for

A4 – to

A5 – for

A6 – to

A7 – for

A8 – to

A9 – for

A10 – to

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