1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Russian
  4. >
  5. Для and за


Для and за

Both are translated as "for". What is the difference and how do I know which one to use?

November 9, 2015



Для is a possessive, you must write it when something belongs to someone, for example, "This present is for Lena"=Этот подарок для Лены". За is used when you're talking about time, for example, "за три недели"=for three weeks, during three weeks. Also, За can mean "behind", for example: "За домом"=Behind the house. За is used in other cases too, but you will learn them eventually. :)


Thank you! За also seems to be used when you are performing an action for someone or something, is that right?


Yes, it's right :)


Бороться за победу - to fight for victory
Вернуть за вознаграждение - to return for reward
Наказать за плохое поведение - to punish for bad behavior


I want to add a hint for Spanish speakers: in many cases, "для" means "para", and "за" means "por".


The other question I forgot to ask. What case to use with them? Use genitive with для? Is it always accusative with за or does that depend on the meaning?

  • Для + genitive = for as in "this is for you", to as in "to do this, ..."
  • За + accusative = for as in "do something for (instead of) someone", for as in "be punished for doing something", also in "выйти за..." = marry ... (used only for women, for men it is "жениться на + prepositional)
  • За + instrumental = behind, also as in "за хлебом" = to buy bread

I'm sure I missed something %) All in all, you should remember that "для" always requires genitive, and "за" is used both with accusative and instrumental.


I knew за + instrumental for behind, but I forgot it. Thank you!


Don't forget ради ('for the sake of').

Ради бога!


Thanks, I wasn't forgetting it, I know how it's used but I should have asked about case for that too. Is it used with genitive?


Here's a video from an online Russian instructor. She speaks in Russian, but at pre-intermediate to intermediate level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZnvMio2OiA

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.