For VS. Because of

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I feel like 'because of' and 'for' as a meaning of cause and reason can be interchangeable like 'because' and 'for' but I know that there are collocations. What do native English speakers think about my feeling? Thank you as usual and have a good day.

 

Cf. We could hardly see it for/ because of the mist 

asked Aug 17 '12 at 22:49 Hans Contributor

1 answer


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"For" is a causal word, primarily functioning as a preposition. Because "for" is roughly equivalent to the other major causal words -- the subordinating conjunctions because, since, and as -- some grammarians have also classified "for" as a subordinating conjunction. Others -- such as Garner's Modern American Usage (Oxford Univeristy Press, 2009) -- disagree.

 

As a native American English speaker, I view for/because as being similar in meaning, but different -- and not fully interchangeable. For instance, for does not feel right in your sentence, while because of does.

 

Swan's Pratical English Usage (Oxford University Press UK, 2005) tells us because put more emphasis on the reason, and most often introduces new information which is not known to the reader. For introduces new information but suggests that the reason is given as an afterthought. For clauses, used in this sense, are more common in formal, written British English than in American English.

 

I'm leaving because I'm fed up. I decided to have lunch, for I was hungary.

 

As an American, the for sentence sounds stilted, and I would suggest because as the better choice. I would not consider using for in the first sentence.

link edited Aug 18 '12 at 01:48 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Great explanation, sir. +1

sanjayAug 18 '12 at 04:35

Thank you, but the thing is that I brought the example from Longman Dictionary. I think the usage of 'for' and 'because of' is one of the controversial issues among them. Anyhow, thank you as usual.

HansAug 18 '12 at 05:10

I am not sure that I agree with Longman, nor am I sure that Longman is as reputable a source as Oxford. Of course, I speak from an American English point of view. As Swan's (published in the UK points out) substituting "for" for "because" is more common in Britsh English, and even there appears mostly in formal writing. My advise -- do not use them interchangeably.

Jeff PribylAug 18 '12 at 14:02

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