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We generally say:

A for Apple.

What is the meaning of this?

When we say to our kids "A for Apple", what does the "for" mean?

  • Will you please tell us the context of that fragment? It can mean anything. – virolino Mar 21 at 12:00
  • youtube.com/watch?v=Cu-0rnpfxmI – Davo Mar 21 at 17:52
  • Please learn to add more details and research to your question. When you say, "What is the meaning of this?", that is too vague. No one can understand what is so confusing about such a straightforward sentence. But when you add, "What does the 'for' mean?" it is very clear what is confusing you, and we can focus on writing a good answer instead of trying for figure out what you are really asking. – J.R. Mar 28 at 17:32
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A is for Apple

Would be the correct common phrase. This is used in nearly every Elementary School in any English speaking country in order to teach the Alphabet to small children. The meaning is pretty basic, namely that "The word 'Apple' begins with the letter 'A'."

The word used to teach each letter to small children varies for some letters, but is remarkably consistent for others. Every teacher uses "A is for Apple", for whatever reason. Likewise, C is always for Cat. But B might be Bat, or Boy, or Ball, or a number of different options. D is usually for Dog, but occasionally for Dinosaur (because kids love dinosaurs). E is sometimes Egg, but sometimes Elephant. I don't know why.

Why "for"? It could be parsed multiple ways. For can indicate purpose. "The purpose of 'A' is so that we can write the word 'Apple'" might be another way to read the sentence. Alternatively, for can indicate substitution. "The letter 'A' substitutes for the word 'Apple'."

  • Great answer. I had never really thought about how this is such a fairly unique and unusual usage of for. One small correction, though: C is almost always for Cat – but not on Sesame Street. – J.R. Mar 28 at 17:29
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It is quite common that we want to tell somebody how to spell a word (such as a name) but we are talking on the phone. The names of some letters sounds similar to other letters: "F" (ef) sounds like "S" (es). "M" and "N" are very similar. "A" could be confused with "J" or "K"

To help make the spelling clearer we can use example words:

You spell my name "J (for jam), A (for apple), M (for mother), E (for egg), S (for snake)"

We hope that by giving an example word it is easier to recognize the letter.

While we might use a common word such as "Apple" for "A", there is an official set of words that goes "Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo etc. to Zulu". These are used by (for example) pilots to make the letters clear.

Using a common word, such as "apple" can also be done for young learners, to help them associate a letter with a particular sound.

  • But using the word "for" in "A for Apple" is literal or not – Kumar sadhu Mar 20 at 23:58
  • Yes, as literal as any particle can be "'A' as represented by the first sound in Apple", hence "A for Apple". This isn't a figurative or metaphorical meaning. Little words like "for" don't tend to have figurative meanings. – James K Mar 21 at 21:07

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