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I have read this on the Internet at many places including Bible and RailForums UK (used by an established author there) in the context of the news of Nelson Mandela's Death.

In most of the cases, it talks about you being either in favor of someone or against. There's no any middle-way i.e. third choice.

"Your either for or against him"

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Isn't it should be "You are either in favor or against him. Why does it use your? Why omit in favor as well? How can you be for someone in this context? A girl telling I'm for you may express her love but it does not necessarily mean in favor (opposite to against) I guess.

We generally paraphrase either...or this way

You go to the railway station OR
You go to the airport
= You either go to the railway station or airport.

So, in above case...

Your(?) for him OR
Your(?) against him
Your either for or against him

After Helix's comment

Even if I consider that as a typo, what about the second question?

Does You are for him mean You are in favor of him?

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13  
I think it's a typo: "Either you're for us or you're against us." –  helix Apr 24 at 7:33
    
even if we take it that way, you are for him means you are in favor of him? - question edited. –  Maulik V Apr 24 at 7:56
    
"either for, or against" tends to means 'support' or against, nothing to do with love. There is the saying "either love or hate" (people either love or hate this food or this person) –  barlop Apr 24 at 14:38
    
Yes, "your" is wrong. It should be "Yaw eye the four hymn oar again stim." ;-) –  David Richerby Apr 24 at 22:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Being for someone or something means indeed the exact opposite of being against them.

And yes, it is synonymous with "in favour of", but that is 1) longer and 2) a bit weaker.

As for the girl saying "I am for you", I agree it may express love, but it may also simply express that she accepts she will be yours. It is essentially not much different from "this gift is for you".

I think it is more commonly expressed as I am (all) yours, or I am yours (forever). That basically means the same, but it avoids the connotation of property somehow a bit more - maybe because of the implied hyperbole.

As for the many cases of your being written instead of you're: you have just uncovered one of the most common misspellings in English (at least on-line) :)

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I take it. thank you. I was unaware of that expression. –  Maulik V Apr 24 at 9:03
2  
That's the whole idea of asking a question, isn't it? :) –  oerkelens Apr 24 at 9:14

It's a coordination of prepositions:

You're [ for him ].

Here, the PP for him indicates that you support him.

You're [ against him ].

Here, the PP against him indicates the opposite.


When we put these together with either, we indicate that there are only two possible states: you may support him, or you may support his opponents. But there's no middle ground—you can't be neutral.

You can express this with or without repetition of him:

You're [ either [ for him ] or [ against him ] ].
You're [ either [ for him ] or [ against him ] ].

In fact, this is a really common figure of speech, used to emphasize the lack of a middle ground. It's always put together in this order—never "you're either against or for him", which sounds very unnatural. This expression is often used to give someone an ultimatum, to make them pick a side. As a result, it's very common to hear "You're either with us or against us."

Expressions like these which always occur in the same order are sometimes called frozen.

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Being "for" or "against" a person could mean a variety of things; the phrase is often context dependent, and used as a shortened form of something more specific.

Ned: That was a tough design decision today; I finally decided we should go with Bob's idea.
Ted: I don't know why you're always for him and against me!

In this scenario, Ted's usage of "for him" and "against me" may be restricted in meaning to "in favor of his design ideas" and "against my design ideas." (Also, "always" is likely more figurative than literal.)

The phrases are often used in emotional contexts, where someone is trying to garner support for (or opposition against) some specific cause.

Bill: Did you see Obama's speech last night?
Will: Oh, yes, it was terrible!
Bill: Why are you always against the president?

Bill's question could mean a number of things, like any of these:

Why are you always saying bad things about Democrats?
Why do you have some axe to grind with the president?
Why are you always knocking the president's speeches?
C'mon, admit it: there's something about Obama you respect...

In the context you've asked about, the words for and against often refer to abstract ideas and vague generalities – perhaps that's why you had a hard time figuring out a precise meaning.

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Agreed. The abstract idea confused me. –  Maulik V Apr 24 at 10:50

I believe it is indeed a typo. The sentence should be

You’re either for him or against him.

To answer your second question, you are correct. The phrase “You are for him” means that you support him or you are in favor of him. In other words, you would like to see him succeed.

As a side note, it would be a very strange usage for a girl to say “I’m for you” and mean to express her love.

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Your examples run along a different slant than mine. (That doesn't mean I'm against this answer; it just goes to show how flexible these expressions can be.) –  J.R. Apr 24 at 10:37
    
Compare "I was made for you." –  Ben Voigt Apr 24 at 23:16

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