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I am a bit confused when to use matters to and when to use matters for in a sentence. When referring to a person I always used matters to as in It may not matter to you. But sometimes I also use matters for. For instance when I say Working hard matters for getting ahead in life.

But now I came across this sentence for which I want to use matter as a verb. Thing A is important to the company

Is it

Thing A matters to the company

or

Thing A matters for the company

I am not sure which one to use and whether there exists a clear cut rule that I can use going forward.

thanks for reading

2 Answers 2

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"Matters to" is used to indicate someone who cares about an outcome, or thinks that the outcome is important. "Matters for" is used to indicate someone or something which is affected by an outcome.

Taking the examples one by one:

  • "It may not matter to you." - "Maybe you don't think it's important."
  • "It may not matter for you." - "You may not be affected by it."
  • "Working hard matters to getting ahead in life" - This sentence doesn't make sense because getting ahead in life isn't a person who can care about things or think something is important.
  • "Working hard matters for getting ahead in life" - "If your goal is to get ahead in life, then working hard will have an effect on this goal."
  • "Thing A matters to the company" - "The people in the company care about thing A; thing A is important to them." Things that might "matter to" a company are the well-being of its employees, the satisfaction of its customers, and the impact that its actions will have on the world.
  • "Thing A matters for the company" - "Thing A will have some sort of impact or effect on the company." Things that might "matter for" a company are the prices of goods it buys and sells, and the laws that the company has to abide by.
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  • thanks for the answer. It is just very weird hearing matter for you. But the example that convinced me otherwise is this one: I'll die today, so what happens tomorrow does not matter for me.
    – oldmansaur
    Aug 9, 2018 at 21:05
  • I agree that "matter for you" sounds strange as compared to "matter to you". Aug 9, 2018 at 22:24
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You may find both usages, but the preposition "to" is by far the more commonly used as you can see from here.

Usage note:

To matter in affirmative statements:

Less commonly, we can use matter in affirmative statements to say that something is important for a particular person, often with to:

A: Sally says the school buildings are in a bad state.

B: Well, the local authority doesn’t care. Nobody cares.

A: Well it matters to Sally. She has to work there.

It matters to me that my children should be polite to adults.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

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  • thanks for the quick reply. But is there a more general rule for when to use to and when to use for. Because It matters for me sounds very wrong to my ears while working hard matters to getting ahead sounds equally wrong. So I feel like there are circumstances that allow both while in some cases only to or for would be correct.
    – oldmansaur
    Aug 9, 2018 at 12:35
  • I don't know if you'd rather have included the actual chart in your answer, but were daunted by the technicalities of actually doing it. I use the Lightshot screenshot extension for Google Chrome (having had someone here on ELL recommend it to me a couple of years ago), and that makes it a doddle to include things like NGram charts. Anyway, I see you've "downplayed" the chart link as I write this, but I'd have used the picture myself. Aug 9, 2018 at 12:39

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