If I wanted to say that I moved somewhere for work, my understanding is that I could say переехал из-за работы but that переехал на работу is more natural. I also think that для работы is wrong here, even though it feels the most natural to me as an English speaker.

The connotation of "for work" could be either "because I have a job there," "because I could get a job there," or "because my job is taking me there," depending on the context. To say "I moved for work" implies the former two, whereas "I'm here for work" suggests the latter.

The difference between these is pretty difficult for me to grasp, but I think of из-за as having the connotation of a fault ('as a result of work') whereas на implies more of implies a direction toward work ('to work there'). And для has an ungrammatical tinge, but it's hard for me to put it into words.

In general, the use of на to indicate a reason is pretty obscure to me. But is this in fact what it's doing here? Can someone explain the difference between за/на/для here? Thanks!

  • For those of us who aren't very good at connotations of English prepositions, explaining the intended meaning of "for work" would really help!
    – Igor G
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 21:23
  • @IgorG I thought I responded to this but it didn't go through. It could have the connotation of either moving "because I have a new job" or moving "in order to find a new job," but the most accurate connotation is "for the sake of work." Which is why для may seem correct, even though I know it's not. Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 7:49
  • You did respond, and your response has been moved to the question body.
    – Igor G
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 8:40

3 Answers 3


If I wanted to say that I moved somewhere for work [...]

... then I wouldn't have used any preposition at all:

"Я уехал (приехал, переехал) работать (жить, учиться) в Москву". See also real quotes from the Russian corpus.

But the title of this question suggests that it's a generic question about prepositions rather than about relocating, so let me not limit this answer to the context of moving for work.

In general, the use of на to indicate a reason is pretty obscure to me. But is this in fact what it's doing here?

"На X-accusative" can hardly indicate a cause. It rather indicates goal and purpose. This meaning is most obvious if X designates either a process (working, studying, relaxing, healing, shooting a movie) or its final result (cookies, money earned). I'm not sure if that's a hard rule, it's just that I tried substituting various nouns for X, and found these collocations most natural.

  • поехать на работу, на заработки, на учёбу, на отдых, на лечение, на съёмки фильма;
  • уехать на постоянное жительство - to move permanently, highly formal register;
  • уехать на вызов - about a doctor called to visit a patient, about police responding to some event;
  • прийти на помощь, на выручку - about coming to the rescue;
  • яблоки на продажу, на варенье - about apples that are meant to be sold, or to be preserved;
  • тесто на пироги - about dough meant to be used for pies;
  • кредит на образование - about a bank credit for college/university;
  • билет на проезд в метро - about a subway ticket;
  • блюдо на заказ - idiomatic, about a dish made to the custom order of someone;
  • откладывать на чёрный день - idiomatic, about saving up for some unexpected emergency;

But then you should be careful, because "на" has a lot of other meanings (well, which preposition doesn't?), and subtle changes in the noun may strongly suggest another meaning, even though the phrase looks the same.

For example, if X can be interpreted as a timeframe (like summer, holidays), then preposition "на" would likely be perceived in the sense of duration:

  • переехать на каникулы в деревню - to live in the country cottage during vacation;
  • уйти на обеденный перерыв - arguably and depending on the context, that could be more about the timeframe of absence rather than about the goal;

Another slight ambiguity may arise if X may designate either an event or a location. I suppose that's because the concept of goal is very close to the concept of target, which means that the sense of goal can blend with the sense of destination. In this case you'd need more context to tell goal from location:

  • поехать на выставку, на экскурсию, на конференцию;
  • пойти на прогулку, на встречу, на собеседование - about having a lunch, a meeting, an interview;
  • пойти к друзьям на обед - an extra adverbial makes this phrase more clear, because "friends" clearly indicates the location, and therefore "dinner" indicates the goal;
  • Thanks for the detailed response. I was really wondering about these subtle uses of на and in which cases it seems natural to use. Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 7:51

Я переехал сюда из-за работы. (Shows the reason for moving.)

Neither of other preposition + работа constructions work except for Я переехал сюда, на новую работу/за новой работой. (That's OK).

На новую работу means both "because I got new work" and "to start new job". За новой работой means you don't have a job, but intend to find one.

Other variants: Я переехал сюда, чтобы найти работу. Я переехал сюда для того, чтобы найти работу. Я переехал сюда за тем, чтобы найти работу. Я переехал сюда, получив (новую) работу. Я переехал сюда , потому что получил работу.


If we consider action as a logical chain "cause of action - action - purpose of action":

ИЗ-ЗА = cause of action (we don't distinguish between "because I have a job there," "because I could get a job there," and "because my job is taking me there," they all fit that preposition). Переехал из-за работы.

ДЛЯ = the purpose of the action. Переехал для работы (=чтобы работать). The preposition НА also has this meaning. Sometimes they are interchangeable, sometimes not: Отдать на воспитание (=чтобы воспитать). Просить деньги на еду (=чтобы поесть). Ткань на платье (=чтобы сшить платье). Построить дом на продажу (=чтобы продать).

But it is the word РАБОТА that is not combined with the preposition НА in this meaning. На работу = the direction of the action.

(In general, you could say На работу in the meaning of the reason, but it would turn out something poetic. There is a Soviet song: На работу славную, / На дела хорошие / Вышел в степь донецкую / Парень молодой.)

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