Re: because/since

Subject: Re: because/since
From: Kim Ferri x710 <kim -at- ASPECTDV -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 1995 12:01:33 PDT

Thanks for the input on a picky topic. Here's a summary of the responses:

It's tough to answer your question, without seeing some examples of what
your writing. The only answer that comes to my mind (but I've only had
one cup of coffee so far) is the following exammples:


"Since you've selected the frammis, a new menu will appear."


"As you've selected teh frammis, a new menu will appear."

All the example sentences I can think of that start with "since" are
either time related "Since you've been gone..." or are similar to the
above examples. The easy answer would be to use "As" in those cases.

But I've got a hunch you've already thought of that, and it may be
a more complex problem.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

This one hits the top of my pet peeve words list. Perhaps it is "old
school," but I too reserve "since" to refer to time and "because" to
indicate cause/effect relationships. I bet you'll find some variation
here--by definition, "since" can function in both capacities. It seems that
"since" is simply more pleasing to the ear and more formal than "because"
and so, by default, has become commonplace.

We simply try to establish a standard for consistency. Most style guides
remain neutral on this issue. When establishing a style guide for staff
use, we provided some alternatives to "because" and requested that use of
"since" be used only to establish chronological relationship. Some
suggested synonyms for because were:
As a result,
caused, causing
Or, my favorite, restructure the sentence to remove any confusion!

Hope this is helpful. . .Would love to hear what others say.


Uh, what old rule of thumb? This is the first I have heard of it and I
thought I had a very solid background in grammar (my one fault being the
distinction between "that" and "which").

Anyhow, I would not hesitate to use "because" at the beginning of a
sentence but I would _never_ use "since" at the beginning because
it is such a vague connective that it requires context to indicate
which sense of it is meant.

I have pulled out my _Handbook of Technical Writing_ (Brusaw, Alred,
and Oliu; if you do not have a copy I highly recommend it. I use it
almost as often as the dictionary.) and they say on page 67,
"To express cause, 'because' is the strongest and most specific
connective (others are 'for,' 'since,' 'as,' 'inasmuch as,'
'insofar as'). 'Because' is unequivocal in stating causal
relationship. ... As a connective to express cause, 'since'
is also a weak substitute for 'because.' <example deleted>
However, 'since' is an appropriate connective when the
_emphasis_ is on circumstances, conditions, or time rather
than on cause and effect."

There is more in the entry, but that seems to cover your question.

Hope it helps!

salper -at- hpcsos -dot- col -dot- hp -dot- com


Because I agree with your advisor, I rarely use "since." I'd say the old
rule is one of Miss Thistlebottom's hobgoblins.


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