Can You End a Sentence With “For”?

The use of prepositions at the end of sentences is a topic that has long engendered debate among grammarians and English language enthusiasts. A particular point of contention is the use of "for" at the end of a sentence. This article will delve into the intricacies of this usage, presenting a comprehensive guide on when it works, when it doesn't, and how to effectively navigate its application.

The Role of "For" in a Sentence

"For" is a preposition that is commonly used to indicate a reason or purpose. In a sentence, "for" can precede a noun, pronoun, or a verb-ing form to explain why something is done or to show the cause of something. It can also introduce a clause of purpose or reason. The function of "for" in a sentence is to create a link between actions, making the narrative more cohesive and meaningful.

Instances Where Ending With "For" Works Well

There are contexts where ending a sentence with "for" can be both effective and grammatically correct. This is especially true in informal writing and conversation, where adherence to prescriptive grammar rules can sometimes be relaxed. The key is that the sentence should still make sense and convey the intended meaning without ambiguity.

Sentence Explanation
"That's what friends are for." Here, "for" is used at the end to convey purpose.
"What are you waiting for?" In interrogative sentences, ending with "for" is common and correct.
"This is the person I was looking for." The sentence makes sense and clearly conveys the intended meaning.
"What did you do that for?" Again in a question, ending with "for" is natural and grammatically acceptable.
"That's the person he mistook me for." The sentence ends with "for" to indicate mistaken identity.

Instances Where Caution is Needed

While ending a sentence with "for" can work in certain contexts, it is crucial to exercise caution. This is because, in formal writing and in certain sentence structures, ending with "for" can create awkwardness or ambiguity.

Sentence Explanation
"This is the book I was looking." Here, ending with "for" is necessary to complete the sentence's meaning.
"What are you looking?" Again, without "for", the sentence is incomplete and confusing.
"This is the person I was looking." Without "for", the sentence lacks clarity and is grammatically incorrect.
"What did you do that?" The sentence is awkward and unclear without "for" at the end.
"That's the person he mistook me." Without "for", the sentence is incorrect and nonsensical.

Tips for Using "For" at the End of a Sentence

When using "for" at the end of a sentence, it's crucial to ensure that the sentence maintains its clarity and coherence. Ensure the sentence is complete and conveys the intended meaning. In interrogative sentences, it's quite natural to end with "for". However, avoid unnecessary use of "for" at the end of a sentence in formal writing, as it can sometimes lead to awkward sentence structures.

Common Misconceptions and Myths

A common misconception about ending sentences with "for" is that it's always grammatically incorrect. This is not true. While traditional grammar rules advise against ending sentences with prepositions, modern English usage has become more flexible. The key is that the sentence must make sense and convey the intended meaning.

  • Myth: Ending a sentence with "for" is always incorrect.
    • Reality: It's acceptable in informal writing and conversation, and even in formal writing, if it maintains the sentence's clarity and coherence.


To conclude, while traditional grammar rules may advise against it, ending a sentence with "for" is not always incorrect. The acceptability of this usage largely depends on the context and the level of formality of the text. In informal writing and conversation, ending a sentence with "for" can often be natural and acceptable. However, in formal writing, it's advisable to avoid this unless it's necessary for the sentence's clarity and coherence. The key is to ensure that the sentence still makes sense and conveys the intended meaning.

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