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Are "for some" and "to some" interchangable?

To some the sun appears brighter in the afternoons.

My natural instinct is to use "for some" in that sentence, but I don't understand why "to some" is incorrect (if it is). Can anyone shed some light?

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

To is preferable here for a simple reason. You say:

The sun appears to some (people) to be brighter in the afternoons.

Not:

The sun appears for some (people) to be brighter in the afternoons.

Fronting of the experiencer, to some (people), does not license a change of preposition. (Similarly, you can transform I donated the money to the church, by fronting the recipient, into To the church, I donated the money, but not, For the church, I donated the money (which has a slightly different meaning).)

Once fronting has occurred, appears is adjacent to the “small clause” and so it is felicitous to drop to be:

To some (people), the sun appears to be brighter in the afternoon.

To some (people), the sun appears brighter in the afternoon.

Without this adjacency, dropping to be degrades the sentence. For some speakers, this can be ameliorated by, for instance, making the “small clause” weightier, e.g.:

The sun appears to some (people) brighter in the afternoons than in the mornings.

For and to are interchangeable where they are not selected and where, roughly, they express an opinion or belief, as in:

For some, the sun is a god to be appeased with offerings of fatted calves and crosswords.

To some, the sun is a god to be appeased with offerings of fatted calves and crosswords.

Conversely, for is preferable to to in contexts like:

For me, the best bit was when the Queen jumped out of the helicopter

because you ordinarily say, best bit for me, not best bit to me.

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Your final assertion ("best bit for/to") is debatable. –  Pantalones Jul 29 '12 at 4:02
    
These things are often open to debate. For/to me, the best bit to me requires a slight intonational peak on best or pause just after it, in order to have the meaning best in my opinion. Without it, the reading most salient to me is the bit that does the best to me. –  Daniel Harbour Jul 29 '12 at 14:26
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As a native BE speaker to some is slightly more natural in this context and, indeed, it is context that dictates the preference. The terms are pretty much interchangeable and will be readily accepted by most people.

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The correct construction for the verb "appear" is

appear to <indirect object>

Therefore the correct preposition to use in this case is "to".

A similar rule will follow for other such verbs which use "to <indirect object>".

To me, that seems wrong.

To me, that sounds wrong.

Choice of preposition will conform to the verb phrase being utilized. However, the phrase need not be explicitly present in the sentence, and in many cases will not be.

To me, that's wrong. ("seems to me to be wrong")

To me, that pronunciation is strange. ("sounds to me to be strange")

Colloquially, however, without explicit use of a verb calling for a particular preposition, either "to" or "for" may be heard.

To me, that's wrong.

For me, that's wrong.

While either of the above is not jarring to the native speaker,

For me, that seems wrong.

is a bit clumsy.

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