Thursday, June 25, 2009

Since Versus Because

Since Versus Because

I am writing about a “rule” in written English that is controversial, involving when to use the word “since” and when to use the word “because.” The rule used to be (and to some of us still is) that “since” is used when you want to denote the passage of time, that is:

“The store has been in operation since 1985.”


“I wanted to be a social worker since I was eight years old.”

“Because” is used to ascribe cause, to explain a reason why, as in:

“Dogs should net be exposed to prolonged heat, because they cannot cool down except through panting.”


“The researchers studied adolescents only, because they are the population at greatest risk for this disorder.”

Some people feel mixing up since and because is fine, some feel it is fine in spoken language only, never in written language, some say never mix them up at all. I am in the middle. I think students should use since and because properly in written communication (that is, follow the rule above), but can mix them up in informal speech.

Next time: what is a split infinitive and does it matter anymore?

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