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  1. The place is important for/to me.
  2. I changed the variable for/to the project.
  3. I can do to/for you.
  4. In/for/to this project, I created a new method.

Does it mean any difference?

This bothered me many times.

Wish someone can answer.

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  • There are two posts that could answer your first question: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/14484/…, english.stackexchange.com/questions/3098/…. Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 10:58
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    As for the rest of the questions, it might be better to ask them separately. In my opinion, you can apply the guideline for Question (1) to Question (3). I believe that you shouldn't use either for or to in Question (2), perhaps in might fit, but I'm not sure about what or which variable you are talking about. As for Question (4), if you have developed a new method (for example to cure a disease) while you were working on a project (funded by some foundation, for example), perhaps a rephrase to While I was working on this project, I developed a new method. Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 11:03
  • ... On the other hand, if you are talking about a method in your computer program, the in or for might be possible, but then again, it will depend on what you intend to mean. Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 11:05

2 Answers 2

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Yes, the use of 'to' or 'for' usually does change the meaning of your phrase, and the difference can be quite big.

To look at your examples:

The place is important for/to me.

Here the difference is possibly the smallest. Without having any definite answer on this, I say I feel that in this case 'to' give the phrase a bit more of a personal feel. But both forms convey the same concept.

I changed the variable for/to the project.

Here, the version with 'to' sounds simply strange to me, I would always go for 'for' if given only these choices. Maybe 'in' or 'of' the project sounds even better though.

I can do to/for you.

There is a very big difference between doing something to someone or for someone. When you do something to someone, that person is the (more or less) passive 'victim' of whatever you do. If I ask what you are doing to someone, correct answers may include acts of violence :)

Doing something for someone does not even necessarily include that person's cooperation, you can buy a ticket for someone, do a chore for someone or buy a gift for someone.

In/for/to this project, I created a new method.

Here I would never use 'to'. Whether to use 'in' or 'for' depends on whether you created the method inside the project or whether it is a new method created externally, to help with the specific project, in which case you use 'for'.

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For relates to person who communicates where as to relates more to recipient.

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