Expressing purpose with "weile"
为了 (wèile) is most often used to indicate the purpose of an action, or the person that will benefit from some act of kindness. In the "purpose" sense, it corresponds pretty well to "in order to" or "for the purpose of" in English.
When 为了 indicates the purpose of an action, it's usually acting as a preposition. In this role, the whole "为了 phrase" should come before the verb.
为了 ⋯⋯ ，Subj. ⋯⋯
Note also that 为了 is a single word; the 了 here is not serving its role as a particle in this case.
- 为了 钱 ，他 什么 都 愿意 做 。He's willing to do anything for money.
- 为了 孩子 的 未来 ，他 决定 搬到 上海 。He decided to move to Shanghai for his children's future.
- 为了 这个 面试 ，他 买 了 一 套 很 贵 的 西服 。He bought a very expensive suit for this job interview.
- 为了 找 灵感 ，那个 作家 搬到 了 农村 。In order to find inspiration, that writer moved to the countryside.
- 五年 前 ，为了 创业 ，他 放弃 了 高薪 的 工作 。He gave up a highly-paid job five years ago in order to start his own business.
- 为了 奖励 大家 ，公司 明年 带 你们 去 日本 旅行 。In order to reward everyone, the company will take you on a trip to Japan next year.
Expressing "The reason why"
Sometimes you will see 为了 following 是. In this case, 为了 mean "for." Note that 为了 and 因为 both have the character 为 in them, and they have sort of similar meanings.You will also see 因为 following 是, instead of 为了. It literally means "is because."
⋯⋯ 是 + 为了 / 因为 ⋯⋯
- 你 学 中文 是 因为 你 的 中国 女朋友 吗 ？Are you studying Chinese for your Chinese girlfriend?
- 我 这么做 是 为了 帮 你 。Why I did all this is to help you.
- 他 做 兼职 是 为了 多 赚 点 钱 。The reason why he does a part time jog is to make a little more money.
- 我们 反对 是 因为 风险 太 大 。The reason why we disagree is that the risk is too high.
Note that 之所以 is a more difficult pattern, which means "the reason why" in a more formal way.
- Expressing "for" with "wei"
- Expressing purpose with "hao"
- Using "lai" to connect two verb phrases
- Stating the effect before the cause
Sources and further reading
- Home With Kids1 (家有儿女1) (pp. 32) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 4 (新实用汉语课本4) (pp. 40) →buy
- 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 (pp. 12) [ →buy]
- 现代汉语虚词例释 (pp. 484, 572) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 1 (pp. 347-8) →buy
- Yale Chinese Usage Dictionary: Uses of 为 and 为了