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Hi

What is the meaning of this sentence in simple words? What is the role and meaning of "for" in the second clause? Is it a preposition or conjunction here?

" The problem had to be costing him money, for him to get so worked up about it."

thank you in advance

hossein
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for is the complementizer that introduces a clause of (known) result (or effect).
I don't see it as either a preposition or as a conjunction. It has aspects of both.

This is a FOR ... TO ... clause.
FOR him TO get so worked up about it

In this particular kind of sentence the FOR ... TO ... clause often has the comparative element so or such. This relates the entire sentence to a SO/SUCH ... THAT ... structure, as you'll see below.

The accompanying main clause always states an opinion regarding what was required or necessary to bring about the known result. Hence HAD TO: The problem HAD TO to be costing him money. has to, had to, and must are all possible, as well as other phrases of similar meaning.

What you have this: According to the speaker, A had to be the cause of B.

A. The problem was costing him money < The purported cause.
B. He got Emotion: football worked up about it < The (known) effect.
C. The cause ( A ) was a requirement for the effect ( B ). < The speaker's opinion in terms of a logical deduction.

The problem had to be (C) costing him money (A) for him to get so worked up about it. (B)

He got so worked up about it (B) that one could conclude (C) that the problem was costing him money (A).

Compare:

Her husband must (C) be rich (A) | for her to wear such expensive jewelry. (B)
She wears such expensive jewelry (B) that one can conclude (C) that her husband is rich. (A)

The singer must have been (C) really good (A) | for all those people to attend his concerts for so many years. (B)
All those people attended that singer's concerts for so many years (B) that one can conclude (C) that he was really good. (A)
____________________

The FOR phrase can be omitted, in which case it is assumed to contain the same information that is already in the subject position of the main clause:

Jerry had to be crazy to try something like that. (*Jerry had to crazy for Jerry to try something like that.) Jerry tried that; therefore, (one can conclude that) he was crazy.

CJ
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Comments  
My conclusion is that the problem is costing him money. Why else would he be getting so emotional about it?

"for" = "in order for"

Traffic must be really bad for him to be so late!

Sorry, Hossein. I would have said "conjunction," but my dictionary isn't supporting me. There are twenty-eight different preposition usages, but none of them seem quite right. I'll look some more.
Both the prep. and conj. meanings have the cause and effect reversed from the situation in your sentence. (Eg. He's crying for his mother.)

But anyway, I'm sure the usage is okay.
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
Incredible! Emotion: smile

But how do we answer the question, "What is the role of 'for' in the second clause? "

I suppose we have to say simply that it has no role in the second clause.

"There are compound sentences like this."
Dear Avangi and CalifJim

Thank you very much for your helpful replies.

CalifJim! Your explanations were great. But 2 points 1. What is your source for this function of "for"? there was no entity for this usage in the dictionary.( for sb to do sth) 2. Accoeding to your explanations It seems that FOR means BECAUSE but in this case there should be a clause after it not a person or a pronoun?!
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Avangithe question, "What is the role of 'for' in the second clause? "
I thought I had answered that in the first sentence. It's role is that of a complementizer. It signals the beginning of a clause -- a FOR ... TO ... clause.

Concerning "role" and "meaning", you might say that "for" has more role (i.e., 'function') than meaning in that sentence.

CJ
hossein31What is your source for this function of "for"?
Transformational Grammar by Andrew Radford (Cambridge University Press). Radford discusses four complementizers: that, for, whether, and if. (Section 6.4)
hossein31there should be a clause after it
I thought it was clear that there is a clause there -- a FOR ... TO ... clause. It's the clause structure itself that means (sort of) because, not merely the word "for".

CJ
CalifJim I thought I had answered that in the first sentence.
Yes. Sorry. I copied that. I guess it doesn't have a role in the clause itself, in the same sense that a conjunction would not, but a preposition would.
I'm assuming that traditional grammar would not be able to analyze this sentence, since my 1980's dictionary has no definition for "for" which fits this rather old usage.
I just feel rather helpless at this point. Emotion: indifferent
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AvangiI just feel rather helpless at this point.
Awww. Emotion: crying

Definitions aren't always words that can substitute for the word to be defined. Sometimes a round-about explanation is required. If you think "for" is difficult, try the definition of "would" for example! That is, you can't just replace all the words in every sentence with their synonyms (if they even have any) without affecting the meaning of the sentence.
AvangiI guess it doesn't have a role in the clause itself, in the same sense that a conjunction would not, but a preposition would.
I take this to mean that you feel more 'conjunction-ness' than 'preposition-ness' in "for" (as used in the example sentence). I'd have to say that I do too. After all, Radford calls "that" a complementizer as well, and traditionally that's a conjunction.
AvangiI'm assuming that traditional grammar would not be able to analyze this sentence
Not necessarily. Traditional grammar is nothing if not creative at coming up with explanations of such things, however bizarre they may seem. Maybe the traditional approach says that for is a preposition, him is its object, and the whole infinitive clause is an adjectival construction modifying him. I don't know if that analysis provides any insight into the for ... to ... construction as a unit, but it is a possibility.

Emotion: smile

CJ
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