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Given these two versions of a sentence:

For many people, dogs are the best friends.

To many people, dogs are the best friends.

I have following questions:

  1. What is the difference between using for and using to for this sentence?
  2. Are both versions grammatical?
  3. If not, which one should be used and why?
  • I'd say those mean pretty much the same thing and could be used interchangeably in most cases. There is a very small semantic difference in that the first one more describes a state of being (Dogs are those people's best friends) while the second one more describes a state of thinking (Those people would say that dogs are their best friends). – Nicole Jan 7 '15 at 15:28
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  1. The prepositional phrases, "To many people" and "For many people," are grammatically correct. The clause that follows, "dogs are the best friends" is grammatically correct. The sentences are grammatically correct.

  2. Is the difference in meaning between “To many people” and “For many people,” dependent on the clause that follows? A different example makes it clearer. "For many people, water is wet [when experiencing water]." "To many people, water is wet [in the view of]." When this distinction is applied to the original sentences, “For many people, dogs are best friends.” means in the experience of many people. “To many people, dogs are best friends.” means in the view of many people.

  3. It depends on whether you want to emphasize experience or view.

  4. The original sentiment, "A dog is a man's best friend." emphasizes the superiority of a dog over a person as a best friend. Many would agree.

  • It seems that only your second paragraph (paragraph 3) answers the question at all? – Rand al'Thor Jun 7 '15 at 19:29
  • There were three questions. I tried to address each by its number, but not in the original order (and I did add a fourth). When I posted, the system renumbered my answers. Number three in my answer addresses the original question one. Given my answer to the original question one, my answer to original question three seems unavoidable, unless the answer to the original question two was that one or the other of the sentences was ungrammatical, which is not the case. My answer to original question two was originally labeled in my post as one, but as I mentioned above, that changed in the process. – Zan700 Jun 7 '15 at 20:22
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They are both correct, but they may not convey your meaning (depending on what you're trying to say)

"For many people, dogs are the best friends," means, that for many people, a dog would be preferable to, say, a human friend.

"To many people, dogs are the best friends," means, that many people consider a dog to be the best type of friend to have.

The expression "A dog is man's best friend," means, no person could ever find a friend that is better than a dog.

  • I think the expression is dog is man's best friend, meaning that the canine species is the best friend to the human community. – Barmar Jan 8 '15 at 22:01
  • I thought that's what I said... – Oldbag Jan 8 '15 at 22:05
  • You seemed to be saying that a dog would always be a better friend to a person than any of their human friends. My interpretation refers to the species collectively, not individual relationships. – Barmar Jan 8 '15 at 22:09
  • I see... How exactly does one cultivate a friendship with a collective species? – Oldbag Jan 8 '15 at 22:15
  • It's a metaphor, based on how much benefit dogs have provided to humanity. – Barmar Jan 8 '15 at 22:17
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This is a difficult one, even for a native speaker - this would usually be done unconsciously, but here is how I would use each preposition:

"For me ..." suggests a consumable, like coffee, or a favourite dish, and describing the taste, or lack of taste. If someone were to ask: "Which lettuce do you prefer in your salad, John?" The reply might begin: "For me, the crispiness of Romaine gives it a better taste..."

On the other hand, "To me ..." suggests possessions, or things in general, or something abstract, or even if no opinion is expressed. Very often, you'll see this at the end of a sentence: "Which airline company do you prefer, Sally?" The reply might go like this: "You know what, none of the airlines is really interested in the customer, they're all the same to me,"

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Another difference is FOR = possession and TO = destination. They brought a cake for me. (it's mine); They brought a cake to me. (whether it's mine or not now, at least I'm the recipient). As to what's been said above.... French is important for me. (I need to learn it as I will study in France); French is important to me (I recognize its importance as it's spoken by (?) million people in the world; but even so it's just my opinion.

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