Skip to Content

Is “for” an Adverb? — The Definitive Answer

Is “for” an Adverb? — The Definitive Answer

Sharing is caring!

Parts of speech are one of the most important grammatical constructs that have been carried over from traditional times to the present.

They could be really elusive and confusing for some people because they are particularly subjective in nature.

Nevertheless, this grammatical construct is extremely important in making languages more comprehensible and teachable to all language users.

Our post today aims to explain this linguistic construct in relation to the word “for,” which seems to be causing some mishaps to the public.

Let’s start with a quick answer.


“Is for” an adverb?

“For” is not an adverb. Instead, it is considered either as a preposition or conjunction in grammar studies. The preposition “for” can play a benefactive, proxy, durative, or purposive role in sentences. Meanwhile, the conjunction “for” means and works similarly to “because” and “since.


Meaning and Usage: Getting to know “for” in ample detail

Independently speaking, “for” per se is not an adverb at all. Instead, it is a function word that can either be a preposition or conjunction in sentence construction.

Adverbs are open-class words, but prepositions and conjunctions belong to the closed-type category.

When a word is considered an open-class type, also sometimes called content words, it can readily accept the formation of new words within the language.

However, closed-class words or function words do not contain this characteristic at all because they serve an entirely different function.

Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are open-class types, whereas prepositions, conjunctions, and articles are closed-class types.

To focus more on the prepositional and conjunctive nuances of the word “for,” the subsections below break its meaning and usage down together with some examples:


“For” the preposition

The preposition “for” can play a lot of semantic roles in sentences, as it is basically a function word rather than a content word.

In sentences, “for” may play a benefactive, proxy, durative, or purposive role when paired with noun phrases that usually come afterward.

Its role is considered benefactive when the meaning it denotes is that it is intended for a particular receiver, which is a person or a thing.


I bought this for you.

“For” may also play a proxy role when it s is used to represent or replace the noun that comes afterward.

You can think of the role of “for” role as an attorney to an accused client who is that one mainly responsible for most of the talking in court.

By the way, did you know that the correct plural form of “attorney” is “attorneys” and not “attornies” even if the latter may sound and look correct?

Anyways, here’s an example of “for” playing a proxy or representative role in a sentence:


He’s doing it for his sons.

Thirdly, “for” may also be used to denote temporal duration, especially in sentences constructed in the present perfect continuous aspect.

That is to say, you cannot use the durative function of “for” in simple present sentences because actions and events are not expected to keep going or last in this particular aspect.

Writing in the present tense is quite tricky, and it would be ungrammatical and unnatural to say “You watch movies for five hours now.”

Instead, we can say the following sentence to make the idea more accurate:


You have been watching movies for five hours now. Aren’t your eyes tired?

Lastly, “for” may also be used to denote a purposive role. More specifically, it denotes the meaning “having the purpose of.”

You may refer to the sentence below for contextualization:


Do you know whether this land is for sale?


“For” the conjunction

Meanwhile, “for” is considered a closed-class type of word in syntax because it is mainly used to adjoin lexical and clausal items to make them grammatically correct and sensible.

When “for” is particularly used to connect clauses rather than words or phrases, it is already classified as a conjunction instead of a preposition.

The meaning of the conjunction “for” may be reduced to the word “because” particularly because these words serve a similar function in sentence construction.

While the preposition “for” can have several roles, the conjunction “for” only has one, and that is, to indicate a reason for a certain argument.

Again, you can simply think of the conjunction “for” as another way to say either “because” or “since,” in which the latter means “for the reason that” rather than “from a point of time in the past.”


I sincerely apologize, for I have been the reason that you’ve gone astray.

In using “for” as a conjunction, which is particularly called a coordinating type, a comma should always come before it.

For more information about comma usage with other conjunctive devices that are closely related to “for,” please check out our text that covers comma usage with FANBOYS in detail.


Using “for” in adverbials

As we now know, “for” in itself cannot be classified as an adverb, but it can be used to introduce what we call adverbials in grammar.

Adverbials is a word or group of words that can be used to modify verbs, a clause within a sentence, or even a whole sentence.

“For” can start either an adverbial phrase or adverbial clause; this makes people confused as to whether “for” is an adverb.

Adverbial phrases and clauses answer the questions how, how often, where, why, and to what extent something happens.

Here are the things that you need to know about adverbial phrases and clauses:


 “For” introducing an adverbial phrase

An adverbial phrase is a phrase that basically functions as an adverb in sentences; that said, its job is to denote ideas that explain how, where, when, to what degree, or why something happens.

It is also called an adverb phrase, and it can modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs in a sentence.

For example, in the sentence “Yuri and Chibby are playing in the dog pen,” “in the dog pen” describes the place where the subjects are playing.

Hence, “in the dog pen” is referred to as an adverbial phrase of place in the construction.

When the same idea is applied to the word “for,” particularly in its prepositional form, the phrase that “for” introduces becomes an adverbial.

Here’s an example of “for” introducing an adverbial phrase of purpose:


They are using the charity event for marketing purposes.


 “For” introducing an adverbial clause

Meanwhile, an adverbial clause is a set of words longer than a phrase that also denotes arguments related to reason, location, purpose, or extent.

The difference between a phrase and a clause lies in the presence of a subject and a verb, in which the latter can either be dependent or dependent, depending on the type of connective device used.

Coordinating conjunctions like for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so connect two independent clauses together; while subordinating conjunctions link an independent and dependent clause.

Since “for” is considered as a coordinating conjunction, it is therefore used to link an independent clause that denotes any form of reason.

When this happens to “for,” we refer to it as an adverbial clause of reason, which can be used to form a compound sentence.

Similarly, the job of an adverbial clause is to explain the occurrence of an idea or event; this is also possible with the coordinating conjunction “for.”

Here’s an example for contextualization:


He was not able to go to work yesterday, for he got sick.


Distinguishing parts of speech

Parts of speech are an essential grammatical construct because they tell us how words relate to each other, depending on how they are used in a sentence.

Language is inherently ambiguous, and it is up to us humans how we make it more intelligible to make communication clearer.

As this is the case, parts of speech have been developed by scholars in the ancient world so as to deconstruct the mysteries behind languages.

This section briefly explains how to distinguish the tricky parts of speech in relation to the adverb “for,” such as adverb, preposition, and conjunction.


Adverb vs. Preposition

An adverb’s job is to explain how, how often, where, when, why, and to what extent things happen. Adverbs are content words or open-class types.

Adverbs include words like “fiercely,” “there,” “usually,” “yesterday,” and “too,” as well clauses like  “because it was hot” and “for they were hungry.”

However, prepositions are function words whose job is to denote the temporal and spatial relations of words in a sentence.

Prepositions include words like “in,” “on,” “at,” “notwithstanding,” “despite,” and even “for.”


Adverb vs. Conjunction

The tricky part when distinguishing adverbs and conjunctions is the existence of the construct called conjunctive adverbs.

Conjunctive adverbs are hybrid grammatical elements that are used to modify verbs and connect clauses at the same time.

Phrases like  “for one thing” and “for another” are some of the most common conjunctive adverbs that are used to enumerate and order sentences and paragraphs.

Furthermore, the conjunctive adverbs “for example” and “for instance” are used to restate and specify ideas to make them more concrete and easier to understand.

“For this reason” and “for all these reasons” are used to conclude and infer ideas in relation to previously stated ones.

In a nutshell, the main difference between adverbs and conjunctions is the fact the former is especially used to modify verbs and clauses, while the latter’s job is only to connect clauses.


Conjunction vs. Preposition

Conjunctions and prepositions are both used in tethering or linking ideas within a sentence; however, conjunctions link longer ideas than prepositions.

Conjunctions link clauses, but prepositions link words in the sense that they denote the relationship of the words within the sentence.

In essence, you can actually use more prepositions in one sentence than conjunctions.

Sometimes, function words can be both a preposition and conjunction at the same time. These words include, “since,” “before,” “until,” and even “for.”

The only way to distinguish the two is by being able to distinguish phrases from clauses, which, again, can be done by looking for both a subject and a verb.

Phrases do not and cannot have both, but clauses, no matter whether they are dependent independent, must have both a subject and a verb.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Is ‘for’ an adverb?”


What are examples of adverbs?

An example of an adverb of time is “today,” an adverb of frequency is “twice,” an adverb of place is “inside,” an adverb of degree is “extremely,” and an adverb of manner is “cheerfully.” 


Is “for” an adverb or adjective?

“For” as an independent word is neither an adverb nor an adjective. Instead, it is either a preposition or a conjunction.


What are the types of adverbs?

The five most common types of adverbs include adverbs of time, place, frequency, manner, and degree.



Parts of speech can be really tricky grammatical constructs because of their complex and highly subjective nature.

But, to be able to make languages less ambiguous and more accessible for humans, we need to know how parts of speech work.