As far as I understand, these phrases have very similar meaning, but is there any difference between them at all? I mean, are they interchangeable?

We discussed pros and cons of buying a bigger house.

Would it be correct to say?

We discussed for and against of buying a bigger house?

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    Note that for and against are prepositions, not nouns like pro and con. – snailcar Sep 30 '15 at 6:42
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    in any case, you could not construct it as "We discussed for and against of buying...". You would need to say "We discussed the {reasons/arguments} for and against buying..." – Brian Hitchcock Sep 30 '15 at 9:46

IMO, no!

pros and cons typically talk about advantages and disadvantages of something. And it, I think, is the most acceptable phrase. Replacing it with 'for' and 'against' would make that sentence a bit ambiguous. In other words, you may need to clarify to a few (including me!) who may not get it at first.

Some believe that for and against works in debates

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  • So, it's not common in informal speach. isn't? – Dmitrii Bundin Sep 30 '15 at 5:30
  • I've not heard yet! :) – Maulik V Sep 30 '15 at 5:31
  • @BrianHitchcock would you mind moving this comment under the question? Because it's OP who constructed it. – Maulik V Sep 30 '15 at 7:46
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    @MaulikV I think Brian Hitchcock's was pointing out that your answer is misleading: "discussed for and against of " is not ambiguous, it's ungrammatical. – Damkerng T. Sep 30 '15 at 8:29
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    My bad. Moving it. – Brian Hitchcock Sep 30 '15 at 9:41

pros and cons is usually used to describe how desirable the attributes of the Object or effects of an action ( buying a big house) are, usually projected in future.

Pros: Big house will allow kids to have separate rooms etc.

Cons: The air-conditioning bill will be higher, etc.

for and against is usually used for counting support by people or institutions.

The Husband was for buying a big house

The Wife was against buying the big house.

If you said "We discussed all the points for and against buying a big house", that is accepted usage. So I am coming around to thinking, if you can count things to tally, it's for-against, if not, it's pros/cons.

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