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I would like to know if there is a semantic difference between I care for you and I care about you.

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Welcome to ELU. Have you found a relevant dictionary entry and does that not answer the question? Currently, this is General Reference because that link answers the question, unless you can say why it doesn't. –  Andrew Leach Feb 10 '13 at 18:14
    
@AndrewLeach I disagree. The link uses both care for and care about phrases, but not in the context the OP asks. And there are subtle differences, discussed by FumbleFingers that are not covered in the link. –  bib Feb 10 '13 at 18:47

1 Answer 1

In most contexts, there's no significant difference between for and about in OP's construction. Both will be understood to mean exactly the same thing.

In some contexts - for example, "She cared for her dying mother", it's more likely the intended sense would be that she looked after her mother, rather than was emotionally attached to her.

There are other possibilities. "Would you care for a mink coat?" could be asking whether you'd like one, or whether you'd look after it if you had one. But "Would you care about a mink coat?" would more likely be asking if you have any moral scruples about wearing bits of dead animals.

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Similarly I don't care about the elections suggest an indifference. I don't care for the elections indicates a clear dislike. And a company might say about its clients We care about you but would probably not say We care for you (unless they were a health related or other protective type organization). –  bib Feb 10 '13 at 18:42
    
@bib: Yes, there are many contexts where some possible meanings are unlikely. And as is so often the case, the likely possibilities can be dramatically affected by casting a sentence in the negative. I wouldn't care to guess how many different nuances might be conveyed by variations on OP's original. –  FumbleFingers Feb 10 '13 at 18:50

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