Is It “Solution For” or “Solution To” a Problem?

I’m sure you’ve heard people say “Solution For” and “Solution To”, used in different situations. But which one should we choose? And when? What’s the rule?

More specifically, we want to know what is the correct form: to say “Solution For” or “Solution To” a problem? Let’s find out.

Is It “Solution For” or “Solution To” a Problem?

In general, both “Solution For” and “Solution To” can be correct. But in this example, specifically, that includes the word “problem” the correct one is “Solution To”. Here, the idea is that the solution belongs to the problem, so we should use “Solution to” a problem, and not “Solution For”.

solution to or for a problem

Let’s see some examples, before digging deeper into the two forms and making sense of them:

  • I’m sure there’s a solution to the problem.
  • Janet couldn’t find the solution to the problem.
  • Is there a solution for Bryan’s problem?

“Solution For” has a less common use. You see it in the third sentence, referring to Brian’s problem, not any general random problem. That is what makes an exception, where the preposition “for” can be correctly used.

However, every time we see a problem being mentioned by itself, “Solution To” is the form we should use to address it.

Solution For a Problem

“Solution For” can be used in some cases, but shouldn’t usually be used to discuss a problem. Every problem has a solution to it, and consequently “to” should be the preposition of choice in those cases. We can find a solution to a problem for someone, for example.

Let’s see what “Solution For” looks like in a sentence:

  1. Does anyone in the class have a solution for number eight?
  2. I need to find a solution to the problem for my boss.
  3. Think about it: there has to be a solution for this.
  4. The solution for Anna is to break up and move on.
  5. We should be searching for a solution to the problem.

There are some cases (not many, actually) where you can use “Solution For”. Usually, it involves a subject (like Anna, in our examples).

Anna’s sentence suggests a solution for her, and not to her, because Anna isn’t the problem – she’s the person with a problem to solve, which is different. In that sentence the solution is for Anna, and although there’s a problem to solve it’s not front and center.

This is clear in sentence number 2, where a solution to a problem must be found for the boss (who’s paying for the solution to the problem to be found, and expected answers).

Another example is “searching for a solution”. In this case, the preposition “for” complements the verb “search” and not the word problem.

For illustration purposes, let’s try to remove “for” from the sentence: “we should be searching a solution to the problem.” It doesn’t work, right? That’s because the verb “search” needs the complement and should appear as “search for”.

Solution To a Problem

Every problem has a solution. We can say that the solution we’re looking for belongs to that particular problem. That’s why “to” should be the preposition of choice when referring to a problem, making “Solution To” the correct form to use in those cases.

Here’s what “solution to a problem” would look like in a sentence:

  1. Theo is trying to find a solution to the house’s plumbing problem.
  2. The solution to the problem is right in front of you!
  3. Please, can you just help him find a solution to the problem?
  4. Charlotte finally found a solution to her problem.
  5. It was up to the school to find a solution to the problem caused by teacher shortage.

In this specific situation, which involves the word “problem”, the only correct way to go about it is to use “Solution To”.

We should think of the solution as an attribute to the problem, like they’re somehow connected. In other words, like one thing is connected to the other, the solution is connected to the problem.

Solution Of a Problem

“Solution of” when connected to the word problem is only correct when used to describe a chemical or mathematical problem. Its use is very specific and not seen as frequently as the other examples we saw.

This is what “solution of a problem” looks like in a sentence:

  1. The solution of the equation was written on the board.
  2. The solution of problems can be fun, if you enjoy Math.
  3. That drink was a simple solution of water and sugar.
  4. The solution of the problem shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.
  5. We used a weak solution of calcium chloride in water.

“Solution Of” generally refers to a scientific topic, in Mathematics and Chemistry, for example. It indicates an equation, a problem or a liquid used in chemical experiments. It’s a very specific use, certainly infrequent.

Note that even in that sentence that contains the word “problem” it implies specifically to Mathematical problems (and not problems in the broad concept we are discussing here).

Which Is Used the Most?

When talking about a solution, which form is used more frequently? Let’s look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

solution to the problem,solution for the problem,solution of the problem

According to the graph, “Solution For the Problem” is the least used. It makes sense to us, since in most cases it’d be an incorrect form, that should be avoided

“Solution of the problem” was used more often in the past, but we see the decline in its usage since particularly since the 1960’s.

“Solution to the problem” appears more often and we believe it’s because it’s the most correct form, which people choose more often in their daily lives.

Final Thoughts

When discussing a problem, should we use “Solution For”, “Solution To”, or “Solution Of”? “Solution Of” should exclusively be used for scientific sentences. “Solution For” is correct in a few cases, but not when the word “problem” is present. “Solution To a Problem” is the correct form to use.