Re: Since/Which

Subject: Re: Since/Which
From: cjs10 -at- CORNELL -dot- EDU
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 1996 09:42:49 -0400

On Wed, 2 Oct 1996, Williams Diane wrote:

> >>[Elsa wrote:] My favorite example for explaining this difference in my
> editing to authors is the phrase "I loved her since she kissed me."
> Did love blossom at just
> that moment?<<

> >No, it didn't. [says Joanna]. I hope your authors have the sense to argue
> with you on this one. "I loved her since she kissed me" means I loved
> her because she kissed
> me, and it's clear that's what it means. <

> Ooooh! I disagree [says Diane--that's me!]. It's not clear until you
> explain it with "because"! So why not use "because" in the first place?
> The reader shouldn't have to translate the meaning of the statement. It
> would be clear in the first place with "because."

> >If you wanted to say love blossomed at the moment she kissed me and I've
> loved her ever since, you'd have to use the Present Perfect tense: "I
> have loved her since she kissed me." The other phase "I loved her
> since..." would be grammatically incorrect to indicate the passage of
> time from that point to this. <

> I agree with using the present perfect tense for this meaning to
> reference a point in time. The sentence "I loved her since she kissed
> me" is not clear at all.


Surely it's only unclear to people who don't know that you need the
present perfect to express "time since" in this sentence. It's a
completely unambiguous statement, meaning "I loved her because she kissed
me". The "since", though, isn't used to its best advantage in this
sentence. In other words, if faced with the choice of using "since" or
"because" in this sentence, I would choose "because" -- since "since"
isn't strong enough to express real purpose. "Since" is best used in
phrases like the one I just used it in (and I recognize it does make for
a little confusion and wouldn't have used it if I hadn't been trying to
make a point) -- i.e. in sentences where you are not attempting to
express a strong purpose; in sentences where "as" might do, as well.

Example: "As he wasn't home, I left him a note." "Since" would do fine
here, too. "Because" might sound a trifle over-determined. In my
sentence above I could have used "as" -- or, possibly, "because",
depending on my mood, as alternatives to "since".

Joanna


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