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PREPOSITIONS. For to, origin of

For to, which is now never joined with the infinitive except by a vulgarism, was very common in E. E. and A.-S., and is not uncommon in the Elizabethan writers. It probably owes its origin to the fact that the prepositional meaning of "to" was gradually weakened as it came to be considered nothing but the sign of the infinitive. Hence for was added to give the notion of motion or purpose. Similarly in Danish and Swedish (Mätzner, ii. p. 54) "for at" is used. Both in E. E. and in Elizabethan writers the for is sometimes added to the latter of two infinitives as being, by a longer interval, disconnected from the finite verb, and therefore requiring an additional connecting particle: “First, honour'd Virgin, to behold thy face
Where all good dwells that is; next for to try, &c.” B. and F. Fair Sh. v. 1. For the same reason:

“Let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
Than for to think that I would sink it here.

From the earliest period "for to," like "to," is found used without any notion of purpose, simply as the sign of the infinitive. So in Shakespeare:

“Forbid the sea for to obey the moon.

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