Comparing "duiyu" and "zhiyu"
The differences between 对于 (duìyú) and 至于 (zhìyú) can be confusing. They both have similar meanings like "concerning," "regarding" or "as for," and differences are subtle.
Use 对于 to Emphasizes the Object
对于 usually emphasizes the thing that it is pointing to. Usually where you use 对 you can also use 对于.
As an adverb or adverbial clause, you can place 对于 before or after the subject. It cannot be an attributive modifier (coming before a noun).
Subj. + 对于 + Object + Predicate
对于 + Object， Subj. + Predicate
- 对于 电脑 ，我 什么 都 不 懂。With regards to computers, I don't understand anything.
- 我 对于 电脑 什么 都 不 懂。I don't understand anything about computers.
- 对于 这 种 人，就 不 该 跟 他们 讲 道理。With this kind of person, you shouldn't try to reason with them.
Use 至于 to Change the Topic
Note that to change a topic, there needs to be another topic first. So you don't use 至于 to start an entirely new discussion free of any existing topic.
As a preposition, 至于 points to another topic, serving to change the subject of conversation.
至于 + Topic，Subj. + Verb Phrase
- 我们 要 开始 这 个 项目 了，至于 什么 时候 开始，还 没 定。We're going to start this project, but as for when to start, we still haven't decided.
- 至于 这 个 问题，我们 还 需要 进一步 讨论。As for this issue, we still need further discussion.
Use 至于 to Emphasize Degree
As an adverb, it expresses "having reached a certain degree." After it you can add words or phrases that describe degree. You can also say 至于 by itself or use 不至于.
（不）至于 + Degree
- 这 点 小 事情，至于 这么 生气 吗？Over such a small thing, why are you so angry?
- 我 是 不 高兴，但 不 至于 不 跟 你 说话。I'm not happy, but not to the point that I won't talk with you.
- 至于 吗 ？Questioning someone's overreaction, perhapsIs it that serious?
- 你 至于 这 个 问题 怎么 看？
- 至于 这 个 问题， 你 怎么 看？Regarding this issue, what do you think?
- 至于 他 的 无礼，你 是不是 不 太 高兴？
- 对于 他 的 无礼，你 是不是 不 太 高兴？Are you not to happy about his rude behavior?
Sources and further reading
- 对外汉语教学语法释疑201例 (pp. 203, 207) [ →buy]
- 现代汉语八百词（增订本） (pp. 240, 683) [ →buy]
- 现代汉语虚词例释 (pp. 211,651) 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 →buy
- 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 (pp. 98) 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 →buy