What are Prepositions of Purpose?

Prepositions of purpose are a type of preposition used to indicate why something is being done or what purpose it serves.

This form of preposition is especially helpful when dealing with verb phrases, as they provide essential context to the action that is being taken.

For example, ‘I’m getting ready for” indicates a purposeful action, whereas without the ‘for’ it simply becomes ‘I’m getting ready.’ Prepositions of purpose can also be used in sentences with two verbs.

For example, ‘She stopped by to get a snack’ provides purpose for her stopping by. In both these examples, using purposeful prepositions adds clarity and detail to the sentence in an efficient way.

Prepositions of Purpose Rules

Learning these four critical rules when using phrases with purpose will help communication become clearer and easier. With these four rules firmly entrenched in one’s grammar skillset, any English speaker can properly construct sentences with ease!

ObjectsFirst, always make sure the preposition has an object following it – otherwise, you may end up with a sentence that is barely comprehensible or even incorrect.
PlacementSecond, prepositions should not be used at the beginning of a sentence; instead, include them later as part of a larger phrase.
Reading AloudThird, avoid ending a sentence with a preposition – read your sentence aloud if you need help determining where it feels right.
ContextLastly, take care to choose the appropriate preposition based on purpose and context; using more than one can lead to confusing sentences.
Prepositions of Purpose Rules and Explanations Table
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Purpose Examples

Prepositions of purpose are used to show the reasoning for a particular purpose. Examples of prepositions of purpose include in order to, so as to, on account of and in case of. These can be used to explain why an action was taken or an event occurred. For instance, someone might say:

  • “I ran quickly in order to catch the bus.”
  • “We stocked up on food so as to prepare for the storm.”
  • “She took the day off from work on account of feeling unwell”
  • “They kept extra supplies in case of an emergency.”

All these purpose-related prepositions offer clarity when communicating a purpose-driven action or event.

Purpose Exercises with Answers


  • I _ to the store for milk.
  • I _ behind the bush so he wouldn’t see me.
  • I _ near the window to get a breeze.
  • Bob _ around the house try out his bike.
  • The kids _ off their beds due to excitement.


  • I go to the store for milk.
  • I stood behind the bush so he wouldn’t see me.
  • I sat near the window to get a breeze.
  • Bob came around the house try out his bike.
  • The kids jumped off their beds due to excitement.

Prepositions of Purpose List

In order to‘I stayed after school in order to finish my project.’
For the purpose of‘He applied for the job for the purpose of gaining professional experience.’
To the end that‘I took lessons so that I could read music more easily.’
With a view to‘We chose this system with a view to streamlining processes.’
So as to‘He went back home early so as to get enough rest before work.’
Prepositions of Purpose List Table
English Grammar Learning Infographic

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Understanding purpose is a key problem area for ESL students and English language learners. Prepositions of purpose can be particularly difficult, as they are often subtle and require context. The purpose of prepositions is to provide information about a noun’s relationship to another word in the sentence, like when or where something happens.

To ensure you understand their purpose and accurately use them, it is helpful to practice reading and writing. Making flashcards for yourself with sentences that use prepositions of purpose can also be a great way to practice and remember them. By following this advice, ESL students and English language learners can become better equipped to accurately identify the purpose of prepositions in any given sentence.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand compound prepositions and prepositional phrases meaning and examples.

Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

Many English learners have difficulty with prepositions of purpose. These types of prepositions, such as ‘in order to’ or ‘so that’, are an important element in constructing sentences. Most times, mistakes with these words involve failing to use them at all. This can result in clumsy phrasing as the purpose behind a sentence is unclear.

Other more subtle mistakes can also occur when using prepositions of purpose such as not properly following the purpose with proper verb conjugations or determining which type of purpose preposition to use correctly. To avoid these common mistakes, it is important for English learners to practice applying purpose prepositions in their spoken and written responses. With consistent practice, precise and clear sentences can be achieved!

Common Mistakes:

1. Incorrect Tense

Why it Happens

Not having a firm grasp on correct preposition usage can confuse your statements. This can cause you to use the wrong prepositions and misconstrue your message.

Correct Use

When speaking English, you would use a preposition that reflects the subject in question. Keep context in mind when selecting your prepositions.

2. Lack of prepositions

Why it Happens

The easiest mistake is leaving out determiners when needed. Failing to use these in phrases can lead others to misinterpret what you are trying to express.

Correct Use

Prepositions join words to a person, place, or thing – for example, ‘the cat meowed’ or ‘I love pasta’.

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3. Inconsistency

Why it Happens

People forget how they described something before and change the context in a contradictory manner. This confuses the reader.

Correct Use

Be sure that your prepositions remain consistent throughout your writing. There should be no sudden shifts from ‘they’ to ‘this’ unless there was a clear shift in the thing being described.

4. Incorrect Usage

Why it Happens

You don’t know which prepositions to use, so you use too many and it confuses the statement.

Correct Use

Using too many prepositions can make your writing sound monotonous and can also lead to viewers losing interest. Therefore it is important to focus on expressing yourself clearly and effectively with them.

Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes:

  • Prepositions of purpose are used to convey the purpose of an action. To use prepositions correctly and avoid mistakes, it is important to consider the purpose of an action and the purpose for which something was done.
  • When we select a preposition to express purpose, it should be chosen based on the verb being used as well as its intended outcome.
  • Additionally, when using multiple nouns or pronouns together after a preposition, usually a possessive form will be necessary in order for the phrase to make sense.

With practice and mindful selection of words and phrases, it is possible to accurately communicate purpose by using prepositions.

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Learning Purpose Strategies and Best Practices

Prepositions of purpose are used to express purpose or intention. They play a vital role in English grammar, as they can help writers create clear and compelling sentences when used appropriately.

Learning how to effectively use prepositions of purpose is beneficial for improving writing skills and increasing fluency in the English language. Strategies and best practices such as outlining purpose beforehand, practising with simple exercises, and studying grammar books will help learning these prepositions become easier. Understanding prepositions of purpose is essential – it will improve the overall clarity of writing and ensure that the readers understand the writer’s message Keep reading for more useful tips:

Tip 1: Study a List

Why it helps

Learning the various forms and using them properly in speaking and writing is easier than it seems with daily practice. A list can simplify this process and make it seem less daunting.

Daily Life Example

The best way to learn to use determiners correctly is to study a list of prepositions and their usages, and then practice writing sentences with them.

Tip 2: Practice Reading

Why it helps

Exposing yourself to prepositions hidden between other words can help you identify them faster and more accurately.

Daily Life Example

To ensure that you understand how frequently a type of preposition should be used, it’s important to practice reading with them as well, so the meanings become clear. So keep a book of your choice on hand and highlight every preposition you come across.

Tip 3: Everyday Conversations

Why it helps

By applying the prepositions exercise to everyday conversations, you’ll find these words easy to remember and use in the near future.

Daily Life Example

Take your time when speaking to people. Take note of the prepositions they use, and try and repeat them back in different contexts. You can also do this from the comfort of your home by recording yourself or using an AI assistant.

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Prepositions of Purpose Frequently Asked Questions

Knowing how to use purpose in a sentence is an important part of mastering English grammar. Purpose focuses on the intentions and motivations behind certain actions or goals. It implies an explanation for why something has been done, or why someone is trying to achieve something.

For example, you could say “She had the purpose of finishing her essay by midnight,” which explains the reason why she was working that late. Another example might be “His purpose in running that race was to break his personal record.” Identifying the purpose helps make our communication more precise and accurate.

Prepositions of purpose are a particular type of preposition that clarifies the purpose or reason for an action. For example, the purpose of attending college is typically to obtain a degree.

Using a preposition of purpose would mean expressing this purpose with words such as “in order to,” “so that,” and “for the purpose of.” Prepositions are used throughout the English language to show relationships between people, places, objects, and actions. Prepositions can be linked to any phrase or verb to denote purposeful behaviour, making them one of the most useful and frequent parts of speech in the English language.

Understanding purpose prepositions can be an effective way to increase clarity when writing or speaking. Prepositions express purpose by serving as helpful linking words connecting nouns, pronouns, and phrases together. Knowing how to use purpose prepositions correctly is a great way to emphasize a point or add emphasis to your writing. For example, if you are talking about a purposeful action, you may say “I went running in order to stay fit.”

Prepositions can also be used to shift the focus of attention by emphasizing certain goals linked with certain actions. For instance, if instead of “running to stay fit,” you said “running for fitness,” the focus shifts from the purpose of the running (staying fit) to the goal that is being achieved (fitness). With purpose prepositions now under your belt, you have another tool at your disposal for creating concise and concisely written sentences!

Teaching purpose prepositions can be a tricky task, but thankfully there are various strategies to make it easier. A great way to start off is by having the students use their own experiences to demonstrate how purpose prepositions don’t just indicate where something is happening but the purpose for which it is happening.

For example, a student may explain why they go to school: “I go to school so that I can get an education.” By connecting this concept to their everyday lives, students are better able to remember purpose prepositions in context.

Additionally, visuals such as demonstrations or diagrams can provide another tool for understanding purpose prepositions and holding up purposeful examples for students to see.

Prepositions are an integral part of any language, and they help to express purpose. There are numerous prepositions of purpose, providing us with a range of options to choose from when communicating our intentions. The 10 most common prepositions of purpose are by, for, to, against, about, at, with, on, through, and beyond.

For example, you might use the phrase “I am doing this for a purpose”. Prepositions let us specify locations and provide emphasis in our speech. Knowing how to properly use prepositions of purpose can help people better understand our intended meaning and make communication more effective.

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