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Thread: what for?

  1. Offroad's Avatar
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    what for?

    Dear teachers...

    Could you please teach me on how to differentiate between 'what for' and 'for what'?

    I bought a watch that reports the temperature of other planets for 1200 euros on clearance!
    What for?
    For what?


  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    Re: what for?

    While 'what for' can suggest both 'why?' and 'for what purpose', it is more likely in your example to mean 'why' (what was your reason)?, I think. 'For what' here is more likely to mean 'for what purpose'?

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    Re: what for?



    (1) You have again asked a question that reminds me of how little I know of English


    (2) And once again, you and I have received an excellent answer from a teacher.

    (3) While usingenglish still lets us non-teachers comment, may I take the opportunity

    to share something with you that I found on the Web? (Forgive me if you have

    already read the same websites.)

    (a) A person who identifies herself as the head of a language institute says:

    For what = emphasizes the reason; what for = emphasizes the purpose. BUT she

    also feels that they are basically synonyms.

    (b) I found an answer (from a non-teacher) that really helped me to better understand

    the slight difference. I have slightly altered his dialogues (the ideas are entirely his):

    Teacher: I am going to punish you very severely!

    The Parser: For what? I haven't done anything. I'm an angel.


    Mother: I want you to go visit Aunt Mona.

    Mike: What [in the world] for? You know that I hate her.

    Mother: Don't talk that way about my sister, young man!

    (4) Although I now understand the differences a little better, I still do not have the

    confidence to choose the "correct" one for your sentence.


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