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Both 给 and 为 can mean "for." Both can be used with verbs to express an action done for anyone.

So how can I distinguish? Please make it clear.

Thank you so much.

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My feeling is:

That 给 is for doing something ''for'' someone.

I will buy it for you. 我给你买。

You will do the verb for someone else.

And 为 is more abstract

I am sad for you. 我为你伤心。

I'm not native but I don't think you could say:

我为你买东西。 X

我给你伤心。 X

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If you do something 'for someone's sake' or 'on behalf of someone', you can use 给

[给 + noun] = [for + noun (for noun's sake)] e.g. 给我买东西 (buy thing for me = buy thing for my sake)

[给 + noun] = [for + noun (on behalf of noun)] e.g. 给我重重打 (severely beat someone for me = beat someone on my behalf). In this case, 给 is interchangeable with 替 (on behalf of)

If you do something 'for someone's sake', or 'because of someone' you can use 为

[为 + noun] = [for + noun (for noun's sake)] e.g. 为我买东西 (buy thing for me = buy thing for my sake)

[为 + noun] = [because + noun ] e.g. 为我而受苦 (suffering because of me). In this case, 为 is interchangeable with 因 (because of)

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  • In your first meaning of 给 and 为 that is "for someone's sake", what is the difference between them? E.g: (1) 他为我买东西. (2) 他给我买东西. I mean what is the difference between two sentences in terms of characteristics of action? – Jenny Apr 11 at 15:58
  • Both "他为我买东西" and "他给我买东西 "can mean "he buy thing for me" (for my sake) The difference between the two is '给' is more specific -- -- The thing is bought for me to own, or use; while 为 is more general (他为我买东西), can also mean (he bought thing for my sake, but not necessary for me to own or use, For example: 他为我买人寿保险 could mean "I am the insured" or "he is the insured". If it was "他给我买人寿保险" then I would be the insured for sure – Tang Ho Apr 11 at 17:12

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