Comparing "gei" and "wei"
Both 给 and 为 can mean "for." They seem to be arbitrarily assigned to different verbs, and to make matters worse, some verbs (but not all!) can use either one. There are a few principles you can use to keep them straight, but also a few exceptions you need to memorize. As always, lots of examples help!
The Core Meaning of 给
As you know, 给 is also a verb meaning "to give." As such, 给 is often used with verbs to express an action done out of kindness or friendship. Think of all the things a mother does for a child, or a generous friend does for her bestie. These would use 给.
Subj. + 给 + Recipient + [Verb Phrase]
- 请 给 我 拿 一双 筷子。 Please get me a pair of chopsticks.
- 下 飞机 以后，我 给 你 打 电话。 After getting off the plane, I'll give you a call.
- 你 别 忘 了 给 我 回 邮件。 Don't forget to reply to my email.
- 同事 给 我 介绍 了 公司 的 情况。 My coworker explained the company's situation to me.
- 这 件 事 是 你 做 得 不 对， 给 他 道歉。 What you did was wrong. Apologize to him.
- 老板 给 我 提 了 很 多 建议。 The boss gave me a lot of suggestions.
- 上海 给 我 留下 了 很 深 的 印象。 Shanghai left a deep impression on me.
The Core Meaning of 为
The word 为 automatically feels more formal than 给, due to its association with classical Chinese. Besides being more formal, it is also often associated with obligatory actions or responsibilities. The typical example of this is "to work for Company A": 为A公司工作.
One other common usage of 为 is for uncontrollable emotional reactions that result from relationships with other people. These reactions aren't really done out of kindness; they're spontaneous and not a result of a conscious choice.
为 + Person + Verb / Adj.
- 我 现在 为 谷歌 公司 工作。 I currently work for Google.
- 你 为 国家 做 过 贡献 吗 ？ Have you made a contribution to our country?
- 我 真的 为 你 高兴 。 I'm truly happy for you.
- 父母 为 孩子 付出 了 很 多。 The parents did a lot for their child.
- 父母 管 孩子 总是 说 是 为 孩子 好。 When parents micro-manage their kids, they always say it's for their children's own good.
- 我们 都 是 成年人 了，应该 为 自己 的 行为 负责。 We've all adults now, and ought to be responsible for our own actions.
- 政府 为 公司 提供 了 保障。 The government provides companies certain protections.
Comparison of 给 and 为 by Collocation
The examples below should help you establish a bit of a feeling regarding the difference between 给and 为. You can see that the ones at the top feel more like something especially done for one person, whereas the ones at the end feel more like duty or obligation. The double yeses in the middle could be either, depending on context.
|Verb||Pairs with 给?||Pairs with 为?|
Sources and further reading
- 1700对 (pp. 486) [ →buy]