בשביל vs. ל

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by David S, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. David S Senior Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    English - US
    What is the difference between these two words when you want to say "for"? And are there other words for "for"?

    For example:
    "This fork is for the salad"
    "You're smart for an 8-year-old"
    "I'm doing a favor for you"
    "This course is too hard for me"
    "I came back for my keys"
    "I was gone for 5 hours"
    "I'm helping you for free"
    "This letter is for Rob"
    "Take this for good luck"
    "I'm running for autism"
    "You're getting punished for spitting"

    Dave S
  2. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    ל is used usually for indirect objects and experiencers. Also for certain constructions like "Institute/laboratory for research/development", "school for blind children", "cure for cancer".
    בשביל is more specialized than ל, "for someone's benefit"/"corresponding to", and from English influence it has accrued other meanings such as the "from X's perspective" meaning of "for".
    Thank/punish/reward etc. for is translated as על.
    עֲבוּר is a higher register word mostly interchangeable with בשביל (also for "from X's perspective"), except for example in לשלם עבור "pay for".
    לְמַעַן is "for [the sake of]".
    בְּעַד is "in favor of".
    בְּמֶשֶך is "for [a time duration]".

    Here's my attempt at translating:
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  3. origumi Senior Member

    In many cases both are good. Nevertheless, native speakers minimize the use of בשביל and reserve to emphasize "for the benefit of". For example: אני עושה את זה בשבילך.

    There are cases that בשביל sounds unnatural or requires some change:
    * "I'm running for autism" (does it sound good in English? If it was "I'm running for those who suffer autism" then בשביל would be appropriate)

    Some of your sentences cannot be translated as בשביל because they contain a different "for". English speakers may have difficulties to tell this difference:
    * "I was gone for 5 hours" (time measurement)
    * "I'm helping you for free" (idiomatic)
    * "You're getting punished for spitting" ("as a result of" rather than "in order to" or "for the benefit of")
  4. Tararam Senior Member

    Little note for trigel, "key" is a masculine noun "מפתח" , but in the plural it takes the suffix "ות". So it's actually מפתחות and not מפתחים.
  5. arielipi Senior Member

    בשביל is more like למען, for (someone/thing)
    while ל- is for (the)
  6. David S Senior Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    English - US
    Thank you everyone!

    Are there cases when only בשביל will work, and NOT ל? When both are possible, is one more formal than the other?
  7. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    When used in בשביל ש (so that) I suppose ל can't be substituted in, but 'bishvil she' is also not "correct language", even though it's common.
    Also, בשבילי, as used before making a statement of opinion can't be substituted by לי. I'm sure there are plenty of other instances. As for formality, I suppose bishvil is slightly more formal but neither is very high register.
  8. origumi Senior Member

    It's common for the last 2000 years, therefore I'd say it's correct.
  9. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    So would I! But it's been argued otherwise by members of this forum.
  10. arielipi Senior Member

    I dont know about bishvil she, it does indeed not sound correct to my ears.
  11. origumi Senior Member

    This is because modern Hebrew is closer in several aspects to the Biblical language than to the Talmudic or Maimonides.
  12. arielipi Senior Member

    ב של בשביל היא כמו ב של בראשית, ואכן אינני זוכר את המונח ל שביל וראשית (תיאור פועל?) אבל אסור לבוא אחרי כזה דבר ש.
  13. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    >>> NEW QUESTION - threads merged by moderator <<<

    Morfix translations for ל : to, toward ; of ; for ; until, till ; into

    Morfix translations for בִּשְׁבִיל : for, to, so as to, for the sake of

    Both "בִּשְׁבִיל" and "ל" have "for" and "to" listed as translations.

    Are there distinct differences as to situations where one translation of the English "to" or "for" can be only "ל" (while "בִּשְׁבִיל" would not be appropriate), or where you would use " בִּשְׁבִיל" (but never "ל" )

    For example, would the choice of the Hebrew word create a difference in meaning in the context "I am repairing some books for my uncle" ?

    -- Thanks for any help
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  14. bazq Senior Member

    Many views but no answers, I don't think I have a definitive answer as well...
    I can't think of any difference when ל refers to purpose. Of course, when there's a subordinate clause ל isn't possible as [le she...] is impossible. If anything comes to mind I'll be sure to write it down here.
  15. utopia Senior Member

    Israel, Hebrew
    There is no simple answer to that.

    בשביל is used when there is a beneficiary, and it's NOT a required preposition (if that is the term) that is the verb doesn't require a complementary by this word.

    ל is used when a) the verb, the adjective or the noun require it.

    b) when there is a sentence pattern that obliges its use: כואבת לי הבטן - the sufferer is indicated by the ל + pronoune. Mind you that בטן is an inalienable part of speech

    thus c) when there is an inalienable part of speech, like brain, in sentences where there are sufferers (english use of on: on me - as a sufferer) ל will be used - הוא בלבל לי את המוח,

    d) on me - but not necessarily using an inalienable word, like in: הוא מת לי פתאום - he suddenly died on me.
    הוא הכניס לי אגרוף - He punched me

    And when you want to say that you did something for your own benefit or amusement, like I was wandering in the streets: הלכתי לי ברחוב...
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  16. origumi Senior Member


    רוזנטל כותב:
    השורש שב"ל, בעברית ובשפות שמיות נוספות, מתייחס להתמתחות, התקדמות וזרימה. מכאן נוצרה 'שביל', המופיעה פעמיים במקרא, מהן פעם אחת במשמעות 'שבילי מים'. מאותו שורש נמצא את 'שובל' הנשרך אחרי הבגד, ואת 'שיבולת', שהיא זרימת הנהר המוכרת ממבחן הש' של בני שבט אפרים. 'בשביל' היא מילת יחס תלמודית המורכת מ'ב+שביל', ופירושה המילולי הוא 'בדרך אל'. "עשיתי את זה בשביל לקבל הערכה": עשיתי את זה בדרך או במטרה לקבל הערכה.

  17. talmika New Member

    Hebrew - Israel
    'בשביל' is 'for' but also 'in order to'. You can also say 'כדי' ('kdei') for the same meaning.
    'ל' is mostly 'to'.
    As for the example - "I am preparing some books בשביל/עבור/ל my uncle"
    All three options are correct, but I would choose 'בשביל' in this case.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  18. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    I agree that all three are correct, but I'd say that עבור is somewhat more formal than the other two.
  19. talmika New Member

    Hebrew - Israel
    I agree :)
  20. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    תודה רבה
  21. theunderachiever Member

    English - United States
    I'm a little tardy, but I always took בשביל to reflect a deliberate kind of intention. I understand the distinction, but it's hard to describe.

    -on the account of
    -in order to
    -*specifically* for *reason*

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