Treatment of “for”


The ODE sense division is mainly sound. However, because of the wording of some definitions, it often happens that senses regarded by FrameNet as identical fall under several different categories in ODE. A good place to examine this is in the Frame Experiencer_subj, Element Content. Depending on (a) whether the experience in question is positive or negative; (b) whether the POA is verb, adj., or noun; (c) whether its object is a person or an abstract; and if an abstract, (d) whether a process or a state, the corresponding ODE sense may be any of several: 1, 2, 3,  4, or 5. ODE sense 2 is very broadly worded and could, at a stretch, accept just about all of the foregoing cases. I have, accordingly, reduced it, as noted below. T


Notes from the spreadsheet:


New sense added (Spreadsheet record 4). As noted above, ODE’s sense 2 seems to be the place where the editors would throw every sense of “for” that wasn’t easily placeable elsewhere, which is perhaps OK for their purposes, but not so good for NLP. What I’ve split off is the part of their definition more or less covered by “affecting.” This is a very common use of “for” to indicate what party is affected by, or is experiencing or undertaking, the feeling or condition noted in the POA, and quite distinct from cases where the complement of “for” is the object of such feelings or conditions. Those sentences are still covered by the main existing sense 2. In other words, ODE essentially lumps (1) “We feel nothing but contempt for them,” and (2) “It was horrible for them to be held in such contempt.” I leave sentence 1 with the main sense 2 in ODE, and assign sentence (2) to the new sense, 2(2)-1. Essentially, the new sense includes those sentences in which “from the point of view of” or “on the part of” (mind you, not the responsibility sense of that phrase) could replace “for.”


A sense of “for” that I don’t see in ODE, FrameNet, or Quirk is the fairly limited-in-scope but also frequent use with “take” and “mistake.” These might be better regarded as phrasal verbs since the “for” is invariable, esp. in the case of take: “I took him for a honest guy who was down on his luck.” The same sentence can be made with mistake, though with a different meaning. If regarded as a sense of “for”, these could be seen as a species of 8(7), “Referent.”


Other instances of for that may deserve idiomatic treatment

The phrases treated in ODE sum up the situation pretty well, and should be taken into account as ones that could easily interfere with seamless parsing of for phrases. A handful of other such phrases, not noted in ODE and mainly colloquial, are probably not likely to be encountered in text that would be scrutinized by KMS. These include expressions such as “For god’s sake,” “For chrissake(s),” “For the love of god/Pete,” “For the life of me,” etc. Perhaps “For my money” and “For what it’s worth” should also fall in this category: also mainly colloquial. These are very often first in a sentence and characterize speaker attitude rather than contribute to meaning.


“For example” and “for instance” obviously need to be taken as whole units. Note that “for all” = “in spite of”. “For sb’s benefit” is a species of sense 3(3) but very often has an ironic twist.


Other Notes:


There is often little to choose between ODE sense 4, “Purpose,” and sense 5, “Cause,” especially in relation to Frame Element Reason.