It’s common for prepositions to affect the meaning of a phrase. Using two different prepositions like “to” and “for” after a word change both of the meanings, even if they seem like they should mean the same thing. Let’s look at heading to and heading for as an example.
What Is The Difference Between “Heading To” And “Heading For”?
Heading to should be used when talking about a specific destination that you’re traveling towards. Heading for should be used when talking about a general destination, with the possibility of making stops along the way. Both of the phrases are interchangeable as well, though.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Heading To” In A Sentence
Let’s look through some examples of how to use each of these phrases. We’ll start with “heading to.” Even though we can use them both interchangeably (meaning the same thing), we’ll focus on the more direct meaning of the phrase.
“Heading to” is used when we want to specify a destination. It means we’re traveling to something in particular and not stopping or diverting our route for any reason.
- I’m heading to the airport as soon as you’re ready.
- We’re heading to the castle at the top of this hill.
- You’re heading to your demise if you’re not more careful.
- She’s heading to the principal’s office now.
- They’re heading to an early dinner party.
- He’s heading to his house already.
- I’m heading to the store if you want me to buy you anything.
When we are using “heading to,” we’re expressing our direct intent. Our goal is already laid out, and we want the people we’re speaking with to understand our aim. The general route should always follow a more purposeful path, meaning we won’t deliberately divert or change directions.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Heading For” In A Sentence
Let’s see the less specific variation of the phrase “heading for” in action. While the sentences above can still all apply here, we’ll throw some extra ones at you. Remember, “heading for” is more general than “heading to.”
“Heading for” is used when we have a destination in mind, but don’t mind if we are diverted or visit extra places before we inevitably reach it.
- We’re heading for the market in just a minute if you want to come with us?
- I’m heading for the airport but might stop for food on the way.
- They were heading for the pharmacy, but the road was closed.
- She’s heading for your office on her way to lunch.
- You’re heading for the main campus, aren’t you?
- I’m heading for somewhere in the north, though I don’t really mind where I stop.
- We were heading for the same place as you.
As you can see, “heading for” is a much more general saying. We’re expressing our intent to reach a place, but we don’t mind whether something changes to potentially change our route. We may visit extra destinations along the way or take a more scenic route on the journey.
It’s also more common to use this phrase when we intended to head somewhere in the past, but now it’s no longer an option. For example, the third sentence above shows a road closed. “Heading for” works better in this sense than “heading to.”
Is It Where Are You Headed Or Heading?
If you want to ask “where are you headed” or “where are you heading,” you’ll be pleased to know that there aren’t any grammatical rules that say that one is better than the other.
In fact, both are used interchangeably. “Where are you heading” was the more appropriate phrase in the early 20th century, while “where are you headed” has taken over in popularity somewhere in the 1980s thanks to the use of it in mainstream media.
Incidentally, “headed” is more common in American English, while “heading” is more common in British English. However, both variations are used in both languages. Many British English speakers will now say “headed” instead of “heading,” making it an equally popular phrase.
What Does Heading Towards Mean?
When using “heading towards,” it means something similar to “heading for.” However, “heading towards” is seen as an even more general term.
“Heading towards” shows a general intent on the direction we’re heading. We can name a place if we want to (“heading towards the airport”), but the route we take isn’t relevant, and we can go on an adventure on our way there.
What Does Heading Home Mean?
“Heading home” is a phrase used when you want to announce that you’re going back to where you live. It’s common to use at a social gathering or party when you’re ready to turn in for the night.
“Heading home” means we’re physically returning to our house.
Heading To – Synonyms
Let’s look at some alternatives for the two phrases to see which one might work better if you’re not comfortable with the main language differences between the two.
- Driving to
If you intend to use a car, this one works.
- Going to
We still need to use “to” as a preposition to express our direct intention.
Heading For – Synonyms
Let’s see what synonyms we can use instead of “heading for,” which is the more general term.
- Continuing on
Generally, we use “continuing” after already making a stop, which shows a good alternative for “heading for.”
- On the road to
Again, we should be driving for this synonym, but it works well as a more general term.
Quiz: Have You Mastered The Heading To Vs Heading For Grammar?
Finally, we thought a quiz might be the best way for us to see how well you’ve picked up the language rules and differences between the two sayings.
- I’m (A. heading to / B. heading for) the principal’s office right away.
- We’re (A. heading to / B. heading for) the park, but we might stop for ice cream.
- You’re (A. heading to / B. heading for) the retirement home right now.
- She’s (A. heading to / B. heading for) her mom’s house and isn’t stopping.
- He’s (A. heading to / B. heading for) the freeway, but you might be able to stop him.
You may also like: Headed or Heading – Which Is Correct? (Helpful Examples)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.