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QUESTION: Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I should use the word "to" or "for" in the following sentence, or if both ways are grammatically correct?
Companies provide goods and services "to / for" their customers.

ANSWER: Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if I should use the word "to" or "for" in the following sentence, or if both ways are grammatically correct?

Companies provide goods and services "to / for" their customers.

*** Either preposition can be used.  It is the writer's choice, and, often, the choice is made based on the context in which the sentence appears.

Let's suppose, as an example, about various kinds of service -- actions provided by someone to benefit someone else.  These services could involve health or medicine, grammar and writing, or computers and technology [and I am listing only a few].  Since I have in my mind "benefits TO" people, should I include your example, I would use "TO" as the preposition.

However, if, in my paragraph or essay I have made several references about performing deeds or action FOR the benefit of others, I would choose "FOR" in your example.

In short, both words are correct.  How well they FIT the sentence must be determined by the author of the sentence.

Ted

P. S.  I don't want to "muddy up the water," but, in my opinion, companies always charge for their services, don't they?  They just don't GIVE them TO their customers.  Following this line of thinking, the word FOR seems to fit the sentence better [FOR ME].



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if my rating for this question went through or not. Normally, when I rate your answer, it clearly says that I have done so, yet this time it said "you already rated this answer". Thus, I just want to make sure that I did take the time to rate your answer. In case it didn't go through correctly, I wrote the following:
Dear Ted,
Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your knowledge with me. Your answer was detailed yet easy to understand. I hope all is well with you.
Your friend,
Glen.
In case the first "rating" didn't go through, I just want to make sure you know how much I appreciate all your help, and never take it for granted.
Sincerely,
Glen

Answer
Dear Glen:

Something strange is happening at Allexperts.  I have not yet received your rating, BUT you can rate THIS response as if it were the original.

Other problems that have occurred recently are these:

1.  I rejected a question which would have taken me days to answer.  However, my "rejection" appeared as an actual answer, so the questioner evaluated me with a string of "0's" and a really nasty comment.  Allexperts removed his rating and comment.

2.  Today, I got a question about getting pregnant.  It was sent as a "grammar and writing" question.  I don't get the connection between grammar and pregnancy.  I rejected it.

3.  Also today, I got a very nice "thank you" note -- NOT a question.  I responded to the note, asking how the man got my name and the Allexperts address.  He wrote back and said that he is studying for his ILETS [or is it ILEST?] exams and belongs to an online "forum," where other exam takes exchange ideas.  He told me that several people in that forum had commented on me personally, recommending me in case anyone had serious grammar or writing questions.  It surprised me to hear that people unknown to me are writing nice things about me . . . . on a
site that I didn't know existed!

I worked today and everything went well.  I got home and was happily greeted by my 4-month-old puppy who fell asleep in my lap and arms.  [He was very good today; no "accidents."]

I will now go to bed tired but happy.

I wish you well.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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