Losing the job seemed like a death sentence to/for me.

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
"Losing the job seemed like a death sentence to/for me."

Which would you like better?

I think either is possible, but is there a significant difference in meaning?
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Without context, it's difficult to say for sure which is appropriate.

    "Losing the job seemed like a death sentence to me" focuses on how the job loss felt to the person. To him/her, it seemed like a death sentence.

    "Losing the job seemed like a death sentence for me" implies a slightly more objective focus. It seemed (to person/persons unspecified) that the job loss would be a death sentence.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Whether "me" or someone else is the person losing the job is also an important part of the context.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    So, if it is I that lost the job, then is "to me" correct?
    And if it is someone other than me, then is "for me" correct?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    So, if it is I that lost the job, then is "to me" correct?
    And if it is someone other than me, then is "for me" correct?
    Not necessarily. As has already been noted, it depends on the context, and you have not yet provided any.

    For example, all of these would be possible:
    "Losing my job seemed like a death sentence to me until I had a good dinner and thought about how much I hated my boss."
    "Losing my job seemed like a death sentence for me, because I was heavily in debt from gambling."
    "When my husband lost his job, it seemed like a death sentence to me, because he had invested his whole life in the business."
    "When my husband lost his job, it seemed like a death sentence for me, because we would no longer be able to afford my medicine."
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Not really, JungKim.

    In #2, it could be you who lost the job in both cases, but the two sentences have different meanings, as Florentia explained.

    Ws:)
    Thanks, Wordsmyth.
    Actually, Florentia's explanation is not so clear to me. So I thought what Myridon said was the key to understanding Florentia's thread. But according to you maybe I was wrong.:D

    Could you (or anyone else) please help me better understand the difference?
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I really don't think I can do better than Florentia has in her two posts above. It would be a lot easier if you could put your original sentence into context: Who has lost the job? Who thinks it's like a death sentence? To whose (figurative) death does it refer? ... Florentia's examples cover various possible combinations of answers to those questions, but if we had your answers it would narrow down the options and probably reduce your confusion.

    There's one detail that might help you to see why we're asking for more information. If it's "to me", it goes with "seemed" (it seemed to me); if it's "for me", it goes with "death sentence" (a death sentence for me).

    Ws:)
     
    Last edited:

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Somehow I hadn't seen Florentia's second post (post #6) when I posted #7.
    Thanks a lot to Florentia and Wordsmyth for further clarification.
    I'll have to take some time to think about this.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks to all the help, I think I figured it out.
    But I'd like to make sure that I really did.

    Let's assume the most basic context for the OP.
    That is, it is I that lost the job, it is I who think it's like a death sentence, and it is my death that the death sentence refers to. Given this context, are these all correct?
    (1) Losing the job seemed like a death sentence to me.
    (2) Losing the job seemed like a death sentence for me.
    (3) Losing the job was like a death sentence to me.
    (4) Losing the job was like a death sentence for me.

    Now, if the context remains the same except that it is my father who lost the job, would the above sentences still be correct?
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Yes, they're all correct statements for the scenario you've described.
    - (1) is saying how you felt (and it would probably be inferred that you meant your death sentence).
    - (2) says how it appeared (possibly to any observer), and is explicit about it being your death sentence.
    - (3) and (4) are virtually the same as (1) and (2) respectively, except that "was like" is stronger than "seemed like".

    Note that you could rewrite (1) as "Losing the job seemed to me like a death sentence", whereas that doesn't work for sentence (2). That demonstrates what I mentioned earlier, about "seemed to me" and "death sentence for me".

    Now if it were your father who lost the job, you wouldn't start the sentences with "Losing the job seemed ...". It could be "His losing the job seemed ...".
    With that modification ...
    - (1) tells us how you felt about it, but doesn't say whether it seemed like his death sentence or yours.
    - (2) tells us that it seemed (possibly to any observer) to be like your death sentence.
    - (3) and (4): same comment as above.

    The two pairs of sentences, (1)/(2) in the 'you' scenario, and (1)/(2) in the 'father' scenario, correspond to the four examples in #6. However, in
    Florentia's examples the added information ("until ...", "because ...") helps to clarify the intended meaning.

    Ws
    :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top