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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Since or because?

A composed satellite photograph of Africa.Image via Wikipedia
Since or because?
Since: adverb – then, immediately after; from the specified time until now; at a time between that time and now or that time and the time under consideration; ago, before: conjunction - from the time that; during or in the time subsequent; from the time in the past when; up to the present time or the time being considered from the time in the past; the time when; when; because, seeing that.

Because: adverb - for the reason that; by reason of, on account of: conjunction - for the reason that, inasmuch as, since; can also be used elliptically in answer to a question, implying that a full response has been withheld; in order that, with the purpose that.

Whilst these terms can be and, indeed, often are used as if interchangeable, in writing it's probably best to stick to 'since' only when referring to time and to use 'because' to establish causality. When 'since' is used to suggest cause it may make your reader to stop to consider its meaning. Such pause for thought is not often something you'd want to encourage.

'Because Frances wanted the company of more than one animal in her home, she filled the place with cats, dogs, rabbits and even a rather ancient and mangy donkey she'd discovered wandering the streets.'

'Since Sandra stopped shopping sequentially, she sought some significant substitute.'  This is poor, as the reader doesn't know whether the cessation of shopping was responsible for Sandra's search or whether she merely decided to seek something different once she'd finished her shopping.

'Because Sandra stopped….' Is a much clearer way of stating the former, I think; though it lacks the alliteration, of course.

'Since mankind wandered out of Africa and set up shop over the various continents of the world, the search for commodities to buy has grown continuously.'  Here, it's clear that we're referring to the passage of time between the exodus and the present day.

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