How to use 为了Wèile in Chinese (Expressing purpose)
Many Chinese learners 为了(wèile) several times, but not necessarily in the right way. This blog post is about how to use “为了” in Chinese properly.
“为了” is a proposition, which means “in order to”, “for the purpose of”, “for the sake of”. It indicates some purpose.
These are the two most common structures.
1: 为了+Purpose, Subject+ Predicate
- Wèile jiànkāng, tā jièyānle.
- He gave up smoking for the sake of health. (Purpose: health)
Or this example:
- Wèile ràng nǚ péngyǒu gāoxìng, tā mǎile yīgè xiàngliàn.
- He bought a necklace to make his girlfriend happy. (Purpose: making his girlfriend happy)
- Wèile tígāo zhōngwén shuǐpíng, tā měitiān nǔlì xuéxí.
- In order to improve his Chinese, he studied hard every day. (Purpose: improving Chinese)
2: Subject+ 为了+ Purpose+ Predicate
Sometimes, 为了 can be placed after the subject and might be followed with “而” in written Chinese.
- Wǒmen yào wèile zìjǐ de wèilái hǎo hào xuéxí.
- For a good future for ourselves, we should study hard. (Purpose: a good future)
- Tā wèile zhàogù fùmǔ (ér) fàngqìle nà fèn gāoxīn gōngzuò.
- In order to take care of his parents, he gave up the job with a high salary. (Purpose: taking care of his parents)
The different order doesn’t affect the meaning. Both structures have the same meaning, as long as the purpose comes before the predicate.
Commonly made mistakes with 为了Wèile in Chinese
Some students might use 为了 like this:
- Wǒ duànliàn shēntǐ wèile jiǎnféi.
- I do exercises to lose weight.
- Wǒ zhège xīngqí yào měitiān xuéxí wèile tōngguò kǎoshì.
- I will work hard every day in this week in order to pass the exam.
How do you express purpose in English? We may say: “In order to lose weight, I will go jogging.” or “Anne raised her voice in order to be heard.” The purpose can be put in the beginning or end of a sentence. This is the reason why foreign students always put the purpose in the end when they speak in Chinese.
Sometimes (not often) you might see “为了” coming after 是. In this case, it often goes with 之所以, which means the reason why… in a more formal way. In this structure, “是” is important, and cannot be omitted.
- Wǒ nǔlì gōngzuò shì wèile yǒu yīgè hěn hǎo de wèilái.
- I work hard to have a good future.
- Tāmen xiànzài xué yīngyǔ shì wèile yǐhòu xué gōngchéng.
- They are learning English in order that they can study engineering.
We hope that clarifies how to express purpose, and how to use 为了Wèile in Chinese. For more tips on grammar, see our article on Chinese grammar, or our YouTube channel.