I have read in LDCE for Advanced Learners (2009) that 'when you mean that you care about smth a lot, say that it is important to you, not that it is important for you' and for instance in Face2Face Elementary (2nd edition) they teach you to use to be important to smb but I have come across on more than one occasion the exact same phrase with preposition for in coursebooks. I wonder what it means and whether there are any shades of meaning in usage in these two prepositions in the expression above.

1 Answer 1


In this context for refers to a purpose and to refers to a personal valuation.

It is important for the crypto-photographer to remain absolutely quiet if he hopes to capture the Yeti's courtship ritual.

It is important for you to bring enough supplies on this mission.

These skis are the right size for you.

Making lots of money was important to her.

To her it all seemed awfully vague.

For the crypto-photographer to capture the Yeti's courtship ritual, he must remain absolutely quiet.

For you, these skis are the right size.

Do you see how you as the "intended user" qualify as the skis' purpose?

  • To be important for smb to do smth is crystal clear as this is the only option there is when it comes to the situation where there are two objects. I'm concerned abot the situations where there's only one object...
    – Yukatan
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 15:12
  • 1
    I'm not sure what you mean. He is important to her means she values him, she considers him important. He is important for her means that she has some purpose in which he plays an important role.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 17:38
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    It is important to her. She places value on it. It is important for her. It has some purpose or plays some beneficial role in her life. After she has spent three days on-call in the hospital intensive care unit, getting some sleep is important for her well-being.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 17:46
  • this is exactly the explanation I've been looking for..
    – Yukatan
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 20:03
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    @Yukatan: Finding a job outdoors had been important to him, as he hated working in an office with "white noise" piped in through ceiling speakers. But now that his savings were depleted and he would no longer be able to afford his apartment, it was important for him to find a job of any kind.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 11:39

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