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I know "for" may have different meaning in different context.

I'll cook the dinner for you.

This sentence can be understood as

1) I'll cook the dinner for you to enjoy it. "you" is the recipient of the dinner.

2) I'll, on your behalf, cook the dinner for someone else. "you" was supposed to cook the dinner, but now it is I that'll cook it now.

In Alexander's grammar book, in 1.13.3, it mentions that "for" can refer to the person acting on the recipient's behalf when used after most verbs in 1.13.2, e.g., bring, give, grant, hand, lend, offer, owe, pay etc.

My question is, what does the remark in 1.13.3 mean by refer to the person acting on the recipient's behalf ? I can't make up an example with this meaning. No matter how I arrange the order, like,

I lend the money for you.

The "you" can only refer to the recipient, or the one who was supposed to act, but not I who is on behalf of you.

  • Note the paraphrases in the book that show the two possible meanings (hence the ambiguity). "Mother cooked a lovely meal for me (= for my benefit); I cook the dinner for you (= on your behalf/instead of you)" The first example means "so that I can eat her lovely meal". The second example means "so that you don't have to cook (it might be the case that you have to cook for someone else)". – Damkerng T. Nov 27 '16 at 10:09
  • @DamkerngT. I'm not sure but do you mean the second case,is understood the way that you is not going to do the thing in the main clause but to do sth else on behalf of another person ? So here it refers to the person (you) acting on behalf of sb else. Er, with due respect, though indeed it makes some sense, I think this understanding is a bit farfetched:-). I think it is rarely used this way, do you :-)? – Hua Nov 27 '16 at 10:45
  • I think you understand it correctly, though I'm not sure who you mean by "you", so let's make it a bit clearer: In John cooked the dinner for Jack can mean a) John cooked, so Jack could eat the dinner John cooked, or b) John cooked so that Jack didn't have to cook, and it didn't matter whether Jack wanted to have his dinner or not, or whether Jack had to cook for himself or someone else, that is the only point is Jack didn't have to cook. – Damkerng T. Nov 27 '16 at 12:37
  • @DamkerngT. Thanks for this clarification. Then I think I understand the two cases very well. But my confusion is, in the book, it states that "for" can refer to the person acting on recipient's behalf. Considering your example, both "for" refer to Jack who is the recipient of the dinner in (a) or the original cook but replaced by John in (b). How can we transform the sentence such that "for" refers to John who is acting on behalf of Jack, as states in the book ? – Hua Nov 27 '16 at 13:24
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    I agree that explaining the second case with "for can refer to the person acting on recipient's behalf" is probably not the clearest thing in the world. :-) However, I think we can understand this explanation along this line: let's say Jack promised Jane that he would cook the dinner for her. John came to Jack's place. Seeing that Jack was also busy with other things besides cooking the promised dinner, John might say "Okay, I'll cook the dinner for you". Jane was the recipient, Jack (supposedly) cooked on Jane's behalf, and John cooked on Jack's behalf. – Damkerng T. Nov 27 '16 at 13:46

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