Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard somebody say “to me” or “for me” in English?

Have you ever wondered which is appropriate or how to use these English prepositions properly?

Does this sound like a difficult aspect of English conversation?

We’re going to help you to break down this specific usage, and then show you what to use when, as well as each meaning.

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Today we have a great listener question about the difference between to and for.

Now, there is more than one answer to this question, but today we’ll focus on a very specific focus.

Hi girls,

I’ve been listening to your podcast for about 8 months, and I’m in love with your work. I listen to your podcast while I’m driving to college, and people might think I’m crazy because I practice repeating some sentences for better pronunciation. I am currently at episode 802 and still have plenty to catch up on.

I do have a rather specific question for you today. What is the difference between “for me” and “to me”? I tried to Google it to find a pattern, but I couldn’t find anything concrete.

Here are some examples:

She is a good friend to me vs. she is a good friend for me

How special you are to me vs. how special you are for me

It’s an interesting topic to me vs. it’s an interesting topic for me

There is also the cases when it’s used in the beginning of the sentence, like:

To me, this is an interesting topic.

Both ways are correct, or do they change in meaning ?

Thanks and once again congratulations on the great working you guys are doing!!


Antonio Azevedo, Brazil

Breaking It All Down

Today we will focus on one meaning with “to” and “for”.

Basically, FOR me means it benefits you in some way.

TO me is more of your personal thoughts on something.

So let’s use Antonio’s last example first:

It’s an interesting topic TO me–this basically means in my mind or in my thoughts so it’s almost like possessive TO me.

It’s an interesting topic FOR me–perhaps it will impact me in some way or maybe it’s interesting because it will help your studies in some way.

It may be because you’re learning about a place you are going to visit–Learning about Iceland is really interesting for me (for me specifically) because I am going there next month!

So it has a special or specific meaning FOR you as an individual in this example.

Could it be to me? Yes. This difference is very slight.

Practice Makes Perfect

As you will see it’s all about getting in practice using these phrases .

The more practice that you get, the more that these things will sound natural to you.

Let’s look at the next example from our letter.

How special you are TO me–I have this feeling that you are special, and this is my thought about you.

How special you are FOR me- maybe you help me in some way that is specific and therefore that’s what makes you special.

You would most commonly hear TO me, as it just fits and makes sense in conversation.

Let’s look at the final example from our letter.

She is a good friend TO me –feeling, opinion, thought, she treats me well as a friend and that’s what I think of her.

She is a good friend FOR me–she impacts me or benefits me in some way. She may help you because she’s outgoing and you are shy, and therefore she might get you out of your shell.

It Can Be Complicated So Take It Slow

So when you think about it, using to me or for me is basically talking about the impact on you.

It may be the actual opinion or the benefit that you enjoy because of it.

It’s also important to remember that if you use for me or to me at the beginning, it’s fine but it can tend to sound more formal.

Let’s look at some chunks to help this be very clear:

  • Sounds good to me (in my thoughts)
  • Looks good to me (same)
  • Works well for me (its impact upon you)
  • Hard for me-still about impact

Some of these could be switched, but this helps to give you a basic and fundamental idea.


Sometimes, one works better than the other just as part of a chunk.

So keep that in mind and listen to others and how they use these words.

However, this general rule of thumb is a good place to start.

This topic can be a little complicated and we can do follow up episodes.

Listen to others use these examples in conversation, and of course be sure to practice to get better as well.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


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