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I had learned that 为 'for the purpose/sake of' took the reading 'wèi'. However, I have seen several instances of 'wéi' being used to mean the same thing. Are these readings interchangeable or is 'wéi' incorrect?

In a textbook, I saw the following, '...为 (wéi), 为了 (wèile) and 因为 (yīnwèi)? In general, 为 (wèi) is usually translated as “for”...'

and, on a website, I saw, '为 wéi 'for the purpose, sake of' is placed before the objective, i.e., 'pleasure and profit'. 为消遣和盈利而养龙。 [Wèi xiāoqiǎn hé yínglì ér yǎng lóng.] - raising dragons for fun and profit'

In 为...而... constructions, I have seen the following:

为民而死 [Wèi mín ér sǐ.] - Die for the people. 为中国而战 [Wéi zhōngguó ér zhàn.] - Fight for China. 为自己而学 [Wéi zìjǐ ér xué.] - Learn for yourself.

I am inclined to think that the use of 'wéi' in the examples given is incorrect but, as a beginner, I do not want to make that assumption.

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  • As a native speaker I agree that in Standard Mandarin it should be wei4 in your last two examples, though in my dialect people tend to use wei2 instead of wei4. I guess it's not uncommon in other dialects. It's possible that whoever wrote those were under the influence of their own dialect.
    – lilysirius
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 5:07
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    When 为 [wèi] is used as a preposition, it has the meaning of "for; for the benefit of". So 为 is pronounced "wèi" in all of your examples.
    – r13
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 17:17
  • "作为[wéi]消遣和盈利而养龙。", here 为 means "the conduct as". It differs from "为[wèi]消遣和盈利而养龙,", in which, 为 means "for the purpose of". Hope this helps.
    – r13
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 18:43
  • (a) 作为[zuòwéi]消遣和盈利而养龙。(b) 为[wèi]消遣和盈利而养龙。Those are 2 different sentences in their structures and have close but different meanings.
    – PdotWang
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 22:37

2 Answers 2

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Your question is, whether or not the word 为 'wéi' (second tone) could mean 'for the purpose/sake of', as the word 为 'wèi' (fourth tone) does.

My answer is NO. There is no chance for them to be exchangeable.

(1) 为 (wéi), to be, as, 为人师表, behave well as a teacher of others. 以人为本, take the people's interests as the primary.

(2) 为 (wèi), for someone, for something, or some purpose, 为人民服务 serve the people (do services for the people). 为虎作伥, To become a ghost that works for the tiger (guides the tiger to his village to eat other people).

为 (wèi) ... 而 (ér), to do something for someone or some purpose, 为自由而奋斗, fight for freedom. 他为养家而打两份工, he works two jobs for the living of his family.

为了 (wèile), same as 为 (2). 为了按时完成项目,我每天工作12个小时。I work 12 hours a day to be able to complete the project on time.

因为 (yīnwèi) is connected with a reason, 因为火车晚点,我没有赶上飞机。 Because the train comes late, I missed my airplane. This is usually an answer to 为什么 (why)。

为 is one of the most important words which has a lot of applications. Please see the following link.

https://www.archchinese.com/chinese_english_dictionary.html?find=%E4%B8%BA

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I think the confusion is due to the fact that both "wèi" and "wéi" can be a proposition, however, they are not the same and, correctly speaking, they are not interchangeable (though mistakes are not rare).

  • "wèi" [for] - 为此 (for this); 为何 (for what/what for/why); 为了 (for the sake of)

  • "wéi" [by] - 不为情愁 (not to be saddened by the love affair); 为我所用 (to be used by me)

https://www.zdic.net/hans/%E4%B8%BA

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