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Dear teachers,

What is the nuance between "since" and "because"? Why aren't they interchangeable? Would you please give me examples?

He wanted to travel to Europe because / since (?) he hoped to find a job there.

Why is "since" not acceptable in the above sentence?

Thank you for your help.

Hela
Regular Member866
Hi Hela,

This is "purist" territory. Purists will tell you that since refers to time - specifically, the amount of time that has elapsed from a starting point. Since I started work today, I've received 57 e-mails. And they will tell you that only because (not since) shows causation. So Since I started my new job today, I'm no longer looking for employment is where you should use "because."

If you can insert in the phrase "the time that" after since, it's the correct choice. (Don't actually add those words, of course - just see if the sentence makes sense with them.)

Since [the time that] someone pointed out this rule to me, I try to be careful in my usage, because I want people to think I have good grammar.

In fact, in common usasge, particularly in spoken English, you will find people using "since" instead of "because" with great frequency.
Veteran Member27,495
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Grammar Geek
Hi Hela,

Since [the time that] someone pointed out this rule to me, I try to be careful in my usage, because I want people to think I have good grammar.

In fact, in common usasge, particularly in spoken English, you will find people using "since" instead of "because" with great frequency.

Hela seems to be talking about the "since" that is synonymous with: because, seeing that and seeing as, which are all fully standardized in use. We use those expressions to give a reason for a particular situation.

"As/since/because it was getting late, I decided to go home."

"Since/seeing as how she didn't arrive, I left."
Senior Member3,149
Hela
Dear teachers,

What is the nuance between "since" and "because"? Why aren't they interchangeable? Would you please give me examples?

He wanted to travel to Europe because / since (?) he hoped to find a job there.

Why is "since" not acceptable in the above sentence?

Thank you for your help.

Hela

"Since" can work there as a synonym of "because", but it is far from common in an informal context. "Since", when meaning "because", is frequently used in academic writing.

EG

"The results of this analysis can easily be compared to future observation since satellite coverage will remain continuous."
I quite agree. But she was told that "since" was wrong, and I suggest that it's because the person saying so was a purist who believes that since doesn't have the "because" meaning. Do you have another suggestion as to why the person told her that "since" was wrong?
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Grammar GeekI quite agree. But she was told that "since" was wrong, and I suggest that it's because the person saying so was a purist who believes that since doesn't have the "because" meaning. Do you have another suggestion as to why the person told her that "since" was wrong?

The person who told her it was wrong does not know anything about register. In formal contexts, "since" is fine when meaning "because". I'd advise Hela to use "because" in her sentence.
What does "register" mean in this context?
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Grammar GeekWhat does "register" mean in this context?
A variety of language used in a specific social setting: speaking in an informal register; writing in a scientific register.
Here are the first five examples from 9,948 appearnaces of since in the British National Corpus (BNC) academic register section:

  • A04 it is in museums that the market in art is defined, since permanent collections place limits on what is available for collectors to purchase

  • 2 A04 regret that so few of Gainsborough's letters have survived, since the charm of his style is so fresh; it is easy

  • 3 A04 , however, depends on the artist's own account, since Nordenfalk had "the deliberate intention of presenting Van Gogh the writer

  • 4 A04 no simple category defined as "feminist art history", since the effect of new ideas is that "much recent scholarly writing

  • 5 A04 explained in his first chapter that the topic had been neglected since it was either assumed to be about sporting pictures, or about
..........................

Of course, not all of the 9,948 will be using "since" meaning "because", but we can be sure that a great deal of them will have that meaning.
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