11

Here are two sentences from Studio D, and why is one using für mich and another mir?

Können Sie mir die Verbindung bitte ausdrucken?

Können Sie einen Platz für mich reservieren?

Are für mich and mir the same? Can I use them interchangaebly?

  • 1
    See, that in this example not »mir« and »mich« are interchanged, but »mir« and »für mich«! – Hubert Schölnast Aug 1 '16 at 12:54
  • @HubertSchölnast Indeed, your comment should probably be posted under the answer I wrote (late at night, obviously without reading the question correctly). – user22484 Aug 1 '16 at 13:58
8

No, you usually cannot use "für mich" and "mir" interchangeably.

"Für mich" means "for me" (accusative pronoun) and "mir" is the dative pronoun.

In the special case you mentioned it works because these are 2 slightly different ways of saying the same thing. It will work for other cases as as well with varying degrees of naturalsoundingness. For example, "Kannst Du mir ein Glas bringen?" is fine, "Kannst Du ein Glas für mich bringen?" is ok but does not sound as natural to me.

In other cases, you cannot switch "mir" and "für mich". For example, in reflexive context ("ich habe mir weh getan" is fine, "ich habe für mich weh getan" makes no sense), or when indicating direction: "er gibt mir das Buch" is fine, "er gibt das Buch für mich" makes no sense. It may even change the meaning: "er nimmt sich Zeit für mich" (he sets aside some of his time for me) "er nimmt mir Zeit" (he takes my time). Idioms cannot be changed either, e.g., "das ist mir egal" is fine, but "das ist für mich egal" sounds odd.

  • +1 for giving examples where replacing mir with für mich is not possible. However, one does sometimes hear those replacements in colloquial speech, even though they are wrong. Incidentally, Kannst du ein Glas für mich mitbringen? sounds much more natural again (still worse than mir, though). – Chieron Aug 1 '16 at 7:28
  • I'd argue that the example above (along with your example, @Chieron) have two different meanings, even in english. Kannst Du mir ein Glas bringen? means Can you bring the glass to me? whereas Kannst Du ein Glas für mich bringen? has more of a Can you bring the glass along? feeling, which is why your response Kannst du ein Glas für mich mitbringen sounds natural again (the meaning here is different). – Austinh1 Aug 1 '16 at 15:19
5

'Mir' and 'mich' are not interchangeable alone.

mir is the dative form,
mich is the accusative form.

Both mean 'me' in English (1st person singular) and are there to indicate the beneficiary/receiver of the action's result in these sentences. ("Wem / für wen?")

The need to use different case forms is owed to a slight difference in the construction of the sentences, specifically the sentence's objects:


1) Können Sie [mir]ᴰᴬᵀ [die Verbindung]ᴬᴷᴷ bitte ausdrucken?

2) Können Sie [einen Platz]ᴬᴷᴷ [für {mich}ᴬᴷᴷ] reservieren?

In the first sentence, the use of the dative form of the pronoun indicates the beneficiary of the result of the action. This sentence part is called indirect object, or just Dativ-Objekt.

In the second sentence, it's slightly different: No indirect/dative object is used to express the receiver of the result. Instead, it is expressed using a prepositional phrase: [für mich]. In German, the prepositions govern the case of the object they point to (overriding the verb's case government), and 'für' belongs to the group of prepositions that govern the accusative case. That's why {mich}ᴬᴷᴷ is used here. This type of object is called prepositional object / Präpositionalobjekt.

So, while 'mir' and 'mich' can't be switched alone, the object type can be:

1) Können Sie die Verbindung bitte für mich ausdrucken?
2) Können Sie mir einen Platz reservieren?
0

The other answers are already good, but I would like to add a simple example that can help understanding this: "für mich" and "mir" are not interchangeable, just like "for me" and "to me" can't be interchanged in English.

Actually, in some cases it is possible: for example, you can say both

Passing this exam is important for me

and

Passing this exam is important to me

with a slightly different meaning (see this answer on the English Language Learners site).

Still, in general they are not the same and you can't interchange them, even though the meaning is similar. You have to judge every case separately.

In German it's the same: these two expressions can have a similar meaning, and in some cases using one instead of the other could work, but in general this is not the case.

-2

The preposition "für" is always used with the accusative form of the following noun, even when the context is dative.

  • 1
    That does not really answer the question whether "mir" and "für mich" can be used interchangeably, does it? – Robert Jul 30 '16 at 1:03
  • Yes it does. As clearly mir can not be used interchangeably in this fūr case. – HörmannHH Apr 16 at 11:26

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