He had too much money for a young man.

I have two explanations:

  1. He gave too much money to a young man.
  2. As a young man , he had too much money.

I am curious of the usage of "for" here.

  • It is a judgement disguised as an explanation, possibly to hide envy. – KCH Apr 29 '14 at 10:15

Personally I don't think it's either of those. To me this sentence means...

3 . People his age usually don't have so much money.

The idea here is that it is unusual for somebody his age to have so much money. The prepositional phrase "for ____" is adding emphasis to his age.

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  • 6
    +1 Perhaps even "People his age should not have so much money." – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 29 '14 at 3:00
  • @AdminralAdama yes, I agree with you. – user48070 Apr 29 '14 at 8:35

"for" in this sentence means "for being".

The sentence suggests two things:

1) Young men don't usually have as much money as he did.

2) Something negative is implied about the relationship between young age and large fortunes ("too much"). I would suggest the author means to say that this person, for his lack of experience and maturity, ended up doing or becoming something indesirable through this combination of youth and wealth.

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The meaning of the phrase is close to your second suggestion, but I find the expression "as a young man" a little too ambiguous, as it can be interpreted as "when he was a young man". I would rephrase it to say:

Being a young man, he had too much money.

The sentence can also be expanded as follows:

He had too much money for it to be desirable for a young man.

The meaning of "for" in the sentence is to say that the condition ("having a large amount of money") is a condition that is undesirable for a young man. The speaker is probably trying to say that excessive wealth is undesirable (e.g. it may weaken ambition or morale) for a young man with little real-life experience.

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Neither; it means that young men either usually do not, or should not, have so much money. Depending on context, a couple of implications come to mind:

  1. The man is too young to have earned so much money legitimately; it implies that there was something unusual, if not shady, going on behind that fortune.

  2. The man is too young to maturely and responsibly handle so much money; it implies that he lacks the experience and perspective to not waste the money.

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Americans will always interpret that to mean: "he was too young to have so much money."

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