The phrases “love for” and “love of” may look similar, so do they convey the same meaning or do they have a specific use that determines which one we should choose?
Love For or Love Of – Which Preposition Is Correct?
“Love for” and “love of” are both correct and often convey the same idea, but “love for” is always followed by the object that receives the love. However, “love of” also has a possessive sense, and so the context is necessary to understand the direction in which the love is expressed.
In the case of “his love of food” and “his love for food”, it is obvious that “he”, not the food, is expressing the love, and the phrases are interchangeable.
However, in the case of “he is searching for the love of a good woman”, it is clear that the woman possesses the love for “him”.
As the phrase “love for” clearly implies the direction of the love from the speaker to the loved object, it is often chosen when the subject is expressing the feeling of love.
The phrase “love for” always goes in the direction from the subject to the object. It is the outward expression of a feeling. It is used when the speaker wants to express the love they feel towards someone or something. That loved object always follows the phrase “love for”.
Here are a few examples of how to use “love for” in a sentence:
- Everything she does and everything she says is an outward expression of her love for her children and her love for music.
- Whenever he is in Rome, he loves to talk about his love for Italian food and wine.
- Whatever he did, he knew he was guided and supported by his parents’ love for him.
- My decision to live in the country was influenced by my love for my cat and my love for Nature.
- She developed a love for the music of Verdi while listening to her parents who were both opera singers.
- The presentation offered the opportunity to talk about my love for the people of the country and their warm welcome.
- My grandfather often spoke about his love for the works of Shakespeare and the beauty of the language.
The phrase “love of” is a possessive structure. It describes an inherent trait or feeling, in either the subject or the object of the sentence. Usually, the possessor of the feelings of love is clear from the context. The “love of” something doesn’t have to be expressed.
Since the phrase “love of” describes a characteristic “owned” by the person or animal that loves, it is favoured when the “love of” that person or animal is known and implied, but not necessarily expressed or spoken aloud.
Here are some examples of how to use “love of” in a sentence:
- Our decision to move to Vienna was inspired by my love of music and my husband’s love of Viennese coffee.
- I was shocked to hear of her father’s death, despite the skill of the doctors and the devoted love of his family.
- He often brought home flowers and chocolates as a small token of his love for his wife.
- My love of high fashion always took second place to my love of food!
- Wherever he travelled in the world, he always took some time to indulge his love of walking and climbing in the mountains.
- Although he was known for his love of hard work, his decision not to work at the weekend was determined by his love of spending time with his family.
- Whenever he feels alone and rejected, he can always rely on the love of his dog.
Which Is Used The Most?
The fact that “love of” can be used to refer to an inherent passion or affection present in any living being and can refer to the speaker or the object is reflected in the data on the Google Ngram Viewer.
Although both expressions are commonly used, the phrase “love of” appears around 30% more frequently than “love for”.
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.