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This question already has an answer here:

and also -

Why is it "zum Beispiel" and not "für das Beispiel"?

I am having trouble understanding the difference between "zum" and "für" in these examples.

"zum Abendessen" is also an example.

marked as duplicate by Philipp, Robert, Björn Friedrich, peterh says reinstate Monica, Dreikäsehoch Jul 19 '18 at 12:23

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    No it's not - I asked the other question yesterday it might be related but didn't answer the question regarding the differences – MrsRona Jul 16 '18 at 15:10
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    Questions about why is something in a given language is this way and not another are in most cases otiose, meaningless and pointless. That's how language works. Counter-question for you - why do you think it should be "für das Besipiel" and "für Geburtstag"? – Eller Jul 16 '18 at 15:14
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    @Eller I think it could work because fur also shows the purpose of an action/noun. – MrsRona Jul 16 '18 at 15:17
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    You've already been told that fur is incorrect, yet you continue using it. If you can't type ü on your keyboard, use fuer. – RHa Jul 16 '18 at 16:11
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    @RHa You should not encourage people to substitute ü by ue. This was okay when we still used mechanical typewriters. With todays computers, however, everybody (literally everybody) has the possibility to type ü, ö, and ä with eyes on top of them. If not, it is a self-inflicted deficit. – Christian Geiselmann Jul 16 '18 at 16:38
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It is »zu« (zum = zu dem) because German language over many centuries for no special reason developed to the usage of »zu« instead of »für«.

Thats all.

Living languages evolve slowly, but they evolve. And they have no desired direction where they should evolve to. They just change. German changes, English changes, and all other languages change too. Slowly, but noticeable.

It is impossible to tell how a language will change in the future, because most of the changes happen just by accident, for no special reason.

Many people ask:

Why has the language X the specific feature Y in this specific implementation, and not in the implementation that I did expect?

And the answer is always the same:

It just happened for no reason.

All you can do is: Accept how it is. Learn, that all German native speakers use »zu«, because all of their neighbors, colleges, friends, relatives and so on use it. There is no deeper reason behind this usage. Everybody uses it, just because everybody else uses it.

Also true:
In this constructions nobody uses »für«, because nobody else uses it. And the fact, that nobody uses it, defines this usage as wrong.

  • Thanks! But just to be clear - Do both prepositions express purpose? Or there is a slight difference? – MrsRona Jul 17 '18 at 7:52
  • @MrsRona: Yes - Wait - No. Well. Hm. Does it help you when I tell you, that prepositions are very tricky? I as a native speaker of German have exactly the same troubles with English prepositions. When ever I think I've got it, I stumble over the next exception. And: German prepositions are sometimes also tricky for German native speakers. – Hubert Schölnast Jul 17 '18 at 8:20

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