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  1. #1
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Post difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    hi, there

    I've been wondering for some time now about the difference in meaning between the prepositions 'for' and 'to', as in these examples:
    - "This kind of plant is poisonous to/for humans".
    - "The death of uncle Jack came as a shock to/for our family"
    - "It was very relieving for me to know that Jane was safe"
    - "Money is vital to/for the economy"

    Does it matter which one I use? Or are both correct? I'd be very grateful
    to anyone who could shed some light on my little problem here

    sincerely, Filip

  2. #2
    Charlie Bernstein is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    They do have different meanings (as you know), but in those examples, they both sound fine to me. Let's see if someone else has preferences.

  3. #3
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Smile Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Quote Originally Posted by Filip View Post
    hi, there

    I've been wondering for some time now about the difference in meaning between the prepositions 'for' and 'to', as in these examples:
    - "This kind of plant is poisonous to /for humans". By using for, you would suggest that there is something advantageous to you in that plant
    - "The death of uncle Jack came as a shock to /for our family" The same here
    - "It was very relieving for me to know that Jane was safe" The only possible option is with for somebody to-infinitive
    - "Money is vital to/for the economy" Both are fine

    Does it matter which one I use? Or are both correct? I'd be very grateful
    to anyone who could shed some light on my little problem here

    sincerely, Filip

  4. #4
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Thank you very much for your help,
    I would just like to ask you one more thing if you don't mind :

    is there some sort of rule that could be used as a guideline for when to use 'for' and when to use 'to' in those kinds of situations?

    Thanks in advance ,
    Filip

  5. #5
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    "It was very relieving for me to know that Jane was safe"

    This should be re-worded as "It was a great relief for me to know that Jane was safe." Or, "I was greatly relieved to know that Jane was safe"

    "relieving" has a different meaning. It could be that at 3:00 pm. the afternoon shift starts in a place of business, relieving the day shift of workers,

    Or, in another sense, if you see someone at the side of the road, who couldn't wait to find a toilet, he would be "relieving" himself.

    I am not a teacher.

  6. #6
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Thanks for pointing that one out for me

  7. #7
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Hello again,
    I'm still having a lot of problems with the correct use of 'to' and 'for'.
    It remains very confusing for me to tell which one I should use in phrases
    like the ones below:

    "The thought of Mildred dying in an accident is absolutely terrifying to/for me!"

    "the discovery of electricity proved to be very important to/for science"

    "to/for these sheikhs, oil is like running water"

    Sometimes, as I've learned, the choice of the preposition seems to be limited, as in:

    "30 for a cake seems a little expensive to me"

    "This equation looks correct to me"

    "This rollercoaster ride is too scary for me" (although I am not too sure about this one)

    So I would like to ask around once more whether there exists some sort of rule that says when to use 'to' and when to use 'for', or whether each and every adjective always has one of these two fixed to them?

    most grateful for your kind help,
    Filip

  8. #8
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    They are similar indeed, but in general, "to" means from the point of view of, whether or not there is design in the situation, whereas "for" usually is used when there is an intended purpose. Example: I gave the cake to my mother (though I may have bought it for myself originally), or I bought the cake for my mother (intending to give it to her before even buying it). Aren't they similar to your Dutch words "voor" and "te"?

  9. #9
    Filip is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Aren't they similar to your Dutch words "voor" and "te"?
    well konungursvia, the use of 'to' and 'for' as in "I gave a ring to my girlfriend" and "I'll buy something nice for you when I'm town" is not actually the problem (in Dutch, both prepositions would be translated as "aan" and "voor" respectively, so there is less confusion there for me). But it's the use of 'to' and 'for' in sentences like "These mushrooms are poisonous to humans, but those herbs over there are good for your health " and "My friends are very dear to me" that confuse me sometimes. This is because when they are used in this context, we have only one preposition for it in Dutch (namely 'voor').

    So, I think I have to rephrase my question a bit: how can I tell which preposition I have to use ('to' or 'for') when someone/something is a certain way for someone else? (as with the mushrooms, they were poisonous to humans)

    I hope I've made the question a little bit clearer now, sorry for the confusion

  10. #10
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    Default Re: difference in use between 'for' and 'to'

    Take the two sentences:
    To me, that maths problem is hard
    compare
    For me, that maths was hard

    In the first sentence, 'to me' indicates purely, 'in my opinion' 'to my mind,way of thinking'. I am not doing, nor experiencing doing what I am expressing an opinion or judgment about.
    In the second, 'for me', the person has actually experienced trying to do the maths problem. It can also be used when the person is actually imagining the experience. This will be clearer with some more examples.
    First, though, look at your sentences:
    30 for a cake seems a little expensive to me"
    That is, 'in my opinion' (so I wouldn't buy one - wouldn't do it)
    "This equation looks correct to me"
    Again, I am giving my opinion.

    Let's try this on your sentence(s):
    "to/for these sheikhs, oil is like running water"
    "To these sheikhs, oil is like running water."
    This would mean that the way sheikhs view oil -to their way of thinking and seeing things oil is some precious treasure, but as common to them as running water.
    As it stands, "For these sheikhs, oil is like running water" would not make sense for a speaker to utter (though many might say it!!)
    Let's change it a little:
    "For these sheikhs, oil is like bottled water."
    Now, it means that the experience of sheikhs selling millions of barrels of oil a day is like some spa company selling bottled mineral water. It's not the same as harvesting and packing and selling truffles at something like 50 for 100 grams.

    To rich folks, jetting off to Paris is as natural as me taking the bus into town.
    This is my opinion about how it must be like to be rich.
    compare
    "To me, jetting off to Paris for a weekend if I'm bored would be the height of
    wasteful self-induglence!"
    My opinion.
    "For me, jetting off to Paris for a weekend whenever I felt bored would be heaven."
    Here, I am imagining the actual experience of it and how it would feel.

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