Hi, there,
What is the difference between "for" and" because" when stating a reason?
Example: Because he did not prepare for the exam, he failed it. Can I use "for" to replace the word "because"?
Thanks a lot!
Hi, there, What is the difference between "for" and" because" when stating a reason? Example: Because he did not prepare for the exam, he failed it. Can I use "for" to replace the word "because"?

Not in this structure, no, but in the sentence "John could not have killed Mary last night at 10 p.m., {because / for} he was with me from
6 p.m. until well past midnight", either one will do.

Garner gives examples where it is at the beginning of independent clauses rather than dependent clauses.
Fowler-2 says that it should take a preceding semi-colon and not a comma, but I don't agree here.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
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Hi, there, What is the difference between "for" and" because" when stating a reason? Example: Because he did not prepare for the exam, he failed it. Can I use "for" to replace the word "because"? Thanks a lot!

only by turning it round:
He failed the examination for he did not prepare for it.

But that would sound very stilted and old-fashioned to a modern ear. More appropriate to Austen/Dickens era!
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Hi, there, What is the difference between "for" and" because" ... use "for" to replace the word "because"? Thanks a lot!

only by turning it round: He failed the examination for he did not prepare for it. But that would sound very stilted and old-fashioned to a modern ear. More appropriate to Austen/Dickens era!

And it desperately needs a comma preceding "for," which in this context is a coordinating conjunction like "and" or "but." Without the comma, a reader may well expect a sentence of the form "He failed the examination for a position with the police."

Bob Lieblich
Punctuation nut
Hi, there, What is the difference between "for" and" because" ... use "for" to replace the word "because"? Thanks a lot!

only by turning it round: He failed the examination for he did not prepare for it. But that would sound very stilted and old-fashioned to a modern ear. More appropriate to Austen/Dickens era!

It doesn't sound stilted to me; it sounds wrong. A "for" clause must indeed follow the clause it explains, but there is another restriction on it: It must explain, not why the event mentioned in the other clause happened, but why we should believe it happened. It presents evidence, not (except incidentally) a causal explanation. That is unlikely in the sentence given. "He must have failed the examination; for he would surely be here celebrating if he had passed" would be a proper context.

Joe Fineman joe (Email Removed)
It doesn't sound stilted to me; it sounds wrong. A "for" clause must indeed follow the clause it explains, but ... It must explain, not why the event mentioned in the other clause happened, but why we should believe it happened.

says who?
if I read it in a c19th novel it would sound perfectly OK to me.
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It doesn't sound stilted to me; it sounds wrong. A ... other clause happened, but why we should believe it happened.

says who?

Says I, obviously.
FWIW, here is the OED entry:

Seeing that, since. Cf. Gr. c0q, L. nam or enim, Fr. car, Ger. denn.
c1150 Serm. in Kluge Ags. Lesebuch 71 Hwu sceal iss ewuren, for ic necann naht of weres emane. 1154 O.E. Chron. an. 1135 On is kinges time wes al unfri+for agenes him risen sone a rice men. c1200 Ormin 119 And teŠ wrenn+Rihhtwise menn+Forr
eŠerr here ede+Rihht affter Godess lare. ?a1400 Morte Arth. 219 Ffore he was demyde e doughtyeste at duellyde in erthe.1480 Caxton Chron. Eng. ccxliv. (1482) 298 Nowe is good tyme For alEnglond praith for vs. 1559 W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 25 For xij. tymes 30. maketh 360. a1613 Overbury A Wife (1638) 202 A churchman she dare not venture upon; for she hath heard widowes complain of dilapidations. 1664 Tillotson Wisd. being Relig. 59 Just such is he who for fear of any thing in this world ventures to grieve God; for in so doing he runs away from men and falls into the hands of the living God.

1766 Goldsm. Vic. W. iii, Near a fortnight had passed before (etc.). 1838 T. Thomson Chem. Org. Bodies 806 This oil or resinous-like body contains phosphorus; for+we find phosphoric acid in the residue. 1883 Manch. Guard. 22 Oct. 5/3 This is no party question, for it touches us not as Liberals or Conservatives, but as citizens.
b. Introducing a detailed proof.
1570 Billingsley Euclid i. xi, For forasmuch as DC is equal to CE,and (etc.) therefore (etc.). 181216 J. Smith Panorama Sc. & Art I. 588 For, let there be three bodies at H, O, and D; if (etc.). 1840 Lardner Geom. 106 For from the point B draw BD perpendicular to (etc.).

All the examples given are of the kind I mentioned.
Joe Fineman joe (Email Removed)