Waiting “For”

Could we all please agree that we are waiting for the virus vaccine, not waiting on the vaccine? We wait for a train (while waiting “on” the platform). I think I would need to be a gymnast to wait on the train (especially while it’s moving . . . ). We wait for our friends to arrive. We wait for the box to be delivered. We wait for the movie to start.

One small exception is a restaurant table. Customers wait for a table. The server waits on the table. The server certainly isn’t waiting for a table, so I guess “on” is the only alternative if we are going to use the word “wait” in that situation. Imagining the server standing on the table while we decide what to order is probably going to make me laugh the next time I get a chance to go to a restaurant with a bunch of folks.

Whenever that will be . . .

4 thoughts on “Waiting “For””

  1. I agree with you, Barbara. The Rolling Stones and Brad Paisley took artistic license I guess when they sang about waiting on a friend and waiting on a woman, respectively. I guess we can give them a pass because they make some good music.

    • Hi Laura
      You certainly cited 2 different kinds of musicians! I think we have to give all lyricists a “pass” on proper grammar because they are probably focused on rhythm or rhymes.

  2. I had to look up “wait on” vs “wait for” to find more info about this. I thought it was regional – southern, maybe – because I don’t recall hearing “I waited on him to arrive” growing up in the Northeast. However, according to this article, it’s historical: https://jakubmarian.com/wait-for-vs-wait-on-which-preposition/ (an interesting, short read). When I had the opportunity to teach more, I always used to tell my English language learning students that they will hear this both ways, and it’s important for them to understand what both mean – just in case.

    • This is great information, Gina. Thanks!
      And you are right – we mix the two words on a regular basis and seemingly without reason.


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