What preposition can I use
with the verbs write and read? For
(a) I always write
to my dad twice a month. Or
(b) I always write for my dad twice a month.
(c) I usually read
books to my kids at night. Or
(d) I usually read books for my
kids at night.
With both write
and read, use the preposition to if
you mean that the father is to receive the letter and that the children
are to hear what's in the books.
In order to understand this
answer, let's provide direct objects for the sentences:
I always write a letter
to my dad twice a month. (Your sentence (a) with
a direct object, "a letter", inserted)
I usually read books to
my kids at night. (Your sentence (c) with a direct object, "books,"
Many verbs, including write
and read, as in (a) and (c), can take to
to indicate who (or occasionally what) is the recipient
of the direct object.
If, however, you want to indicate
that you are performing an action on behalf of the other person梚nstead
of the other person's doing the action himself梩he preposition for
would indicate this.
For example, if you say:
I always write letters and
checks for my dad twice a month, (Your sentence
(b), with a direct object, "letters and checks" inserted)
it would mean that your dad
can't write by himself—he's sick or illiterate, for example—so
you help him out twice a month by doing the writing for him.
The same holds true with the
I have to read the directions on the medicine
bottles for my grandmother; her eyesight isn't
good any more.
Many grammarians would not
call the to- version a true indirect object but rather
"object of a preposition." They reserve the name "indirect object" for
the "recipient" or "beneficiary" of a direct object. A "true"
indirect object comes after the verb and before the direct object, as
in "I wrote my father a letter." We
prefer to call the prepositional version—as in (a) above—the
Note that none of these particular
for-sentences, even with a direct object, expresses
an indirect object relationship. It is rather a surrogate
or substitute relationship, in which person A performs an action on
behalf of person B, usually because person B is unable or unwilling
to perform the action. Click here for an explanation
of true indirect object relationships with and without the preposition
(For a simple chart with examples
of verbs that can take to and those which can't, click