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While studying this morning, I became interested in how to say "When you were a child, did you read books for fun?" in Japanese.

In this case, would I use ため?

Or would it be something like this: スパに行く食べ物を買う…。

I guess I'm wondering how to state the purpose of doing something, how to use ため, and also what are the differences in form are.

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I think 面白半分に is appropriate here, but I am not entirely sure. –  Ataraxia Oct 22 '12 at 13:52
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Isn't 面白半分 more "for fun" in the sense of doing something half jokingly, or "just for the hell of it"? Like 冗談半分? There's a distinction between doing something free of obligation and not doing something seriously. –  ssb Oct 22 '12 at 14:22
    
I am not sure if ため is correct. It is used to indicate the purpose of an action but I recently came across the sentence: 「子供のころ、本当にただ本を読んでいたのに、楽しかった。」Which I took to mean: "When I was a child I really just enjoyed reading books." It is not quite the same as what you want to say but it might be more natural to say this or alternatively "I read books because it was fun/enjoyable". Others may have a different view. –  Tim Oct 22 '12 at 14:52
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「本当にただ本を読んでいたのに、楽しかった。」sounds to me more like "I was just reading books, but it was fun" implying that it was rather unexpected that such a simple act as reading books could be fun. It also depends on the context, which is lacking here. –  Taro Sato Oct 22 '12 at 17:25
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@Tim I didn't mean to say what you suggested was wrong. I was just referring to the specific example, and just telling how I just feel by reading that sentence. 本当にただ〜をしていただけなのに is a sort of idiomatic expression that can be used to convey the feeling that I described in my previous comment. I might try answering the OP's question in the answer section... –  Taro Sato Oct 22 '12 at 20:13
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In this case you CAN use ため depending on the grammar that you use with it. Specifically you could say 楽しみのため, or "for the purpose of fun," or you could say 遊びで, meaning just to have fun (rather than out of obligation). So a full sentence would be like 子供の時楽しみのために本を読みましたか?

As for the second example you gave, スパに行く食べ物を買う means that you will buy food that goes to the spa. スーパーに行って食べ物を買う, using the te form, will express the idea of going to the store and buying food, but NOT going to the store for the purpose of buying food. In that case you would also use ために, as in 食べ物を買うためにスーパーに行った。

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To say "As a child, Did you/I read books for fun" I would use

子供の時、趣味で読書をしていましたか?

〜で is simpler and the sentence flows better than 〜のために, which can be used to mean the same thing. However, when I say

子供の時、趣味のために読書をしていましたか?

actually sounds a bit awkward, since 〜のために (or ため in general) literally translates to "for" but it has a tiny bit of connotation to indicate whatever is done is a requirement, or something purposefully done. The reason why the specific example above sound a bit awkward to me is that your hobby is not necessarily something you have to do; you naturally do it out of enjoyment. So using 〜のため to indicate your purpose, I think, has an effect of emphasizing your will to do that thing.

If instead the sentence is

昨日、仕事のために読書をしていましたか?

then the awkwardness goes away, since the reading was a requirement for the job, something needed to be done by will.

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I think that the reason 趣味のために読書をする is unnatural is simpler than your explanation. 趣味 is hobby (i.e. a thing which a person does for fun). 趣味のために読書をする means “read books for a hobby,” not “read books as a hobby,” so it is not appropriate if 趣味 refers to 読書. If you add a suitable context (e.g. you like cooking and read books to learn how to cook), then 趣味のために読書をする will make sense. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 22 '12 at 21:49
    
Oh, I see. That may make more sense. The difference between as and for translates to 趣味として読書をする vs. 趣味のために読書をする. –  Taro Sato Oct 23 '12 at 5:35
    
Not my question but thank you you both for interesting answers. –  Tim Oct 23 '12 at 11:39
    
趣味 seems to mean more than just hobby. Based on the sentence in my dictionary 「教えることが趣味なのです」(I teach for pleasure.)perhaps we can also say 子供のころ、読むことが趣味だったのです? –  Tim Oct 23 '12 at 11:40
    
@Tim Yeah, 読むことが趣味だった? or 読むことが好きだった? would also work. –  Taro Sato Oct 23 '12 at 18:12
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