Sunday, July 6, 2014

Little Bits O' Grammar #1: "Waiting On" vs. "Waiting For"

"Waiting on" someone is to serve them.  This is what your server does in a restaurant or what you do to help someone who is ill or unable to fetch and carry for themselves.  You cannot "wait on" an inanimate object.

This tweet, then, is demonstrating the wrong usage:

Q. How many electrical engineers does it take to change a light bulb? A. We don't know yet. They're still waiting on a part.

"Waiting for" someone or something means you are anticipating an event or an arrival in the future.  The correct use of the preposition in the tweet above would be "They're still waiting for a part."


  1. True! It reminds me of the word done. Speaking of food and all. My mother's words (now flowing from me) still ring in my ears. Child at table- I'm done! Can I go play? Mommy- You may be finished eating, but I certainly didn't cook you!

  2. Hmmm, makes sense, but to be honest, I never made the distinction before.