One of the wonderful things about English is that it offers us multiple ways to express (say) something- like using as and since to mean because. This may not seem so advantageous (beneficial, good), however, if you’re not a native English speaker!
As a writer, I find the flexibility of English quite nice because it gives me lots of room to play in the language, and challenges me to express my thoughts in different ways. Synonyms aren’t just for adjectives.
Using the words as and since to mean because are great options to shake things up (change, alter things) a bit, depending on context. This might sound complex, but don’t worry, it’s not! We’re here to break down the differences for you, as well as offer examples of when to use these words, and the smaller nuances between them.
Because is defined by Merriam Webster as: “for the reason that, or the fact that.” Put simply, it means that something happened due to the fact that something else happened.
Because is often used to focus on the reason something happened. If you want to emphasize the reason even more, you can put the because clause at the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma. Because is also seen as less formal than as or since.
- “Because I love dancing so much, I go any time I’m invited!”
Here, I’ve focused on the fact that I love to dance, and double emphasized that by putting it at the beginning of the sentence. We don’t start sentences with because in academic writing, but considering the topic of this sentence, you wouldn’t see this expressed in formal writing anyway, so using because at the beginning is fine.
Two good synonyms to use to mean because are as and since. While they have their own meanings (that will will explain in a future blog), they can mean because as well, allowing you to vary your word choice.
As and Since
As we have already established, since, as, and because can be synonyms- the operative phrase (key words) being can be.
As and since are used in a sentence instead of because when you want to focus on the result, not the reason, for something. The as and since clauses can also go at the start of the sentence for added emphasis.
When you use as to mean because, it looks like this:
- “He doesn’t need to get his car washed today, as it rained yesterday.” (Typical California thinking!)
This sentence shows how I want to focus more on the result of the as clause: He doesn’t need to get his car washed today. Even though as functions to mean because in this example, the focus is not on the reason. It is the speaker or author, not grammar, who decides whether the reason or the result is more important to them in that moment.
If I had wanted to focus on the reason, I would have written it this way:
- “Because it rained yesterday, he doesn’t need to get his car washed.”
Read the following sentence and try to see if you can feel if the focus of the sentence is on the reason or the result:
- “Since I ate an apple earlier, I’m not hungry now.”
Now compare that to how the focus or feeling changes just slightly here:
- “Because I ate an apple earlier, I’m not hungry now.”
Yes, they mean the same thing in the end- I’m not hungry and I ate an apple earlier- but each sentence carries with it a nuanced difference.
Criticism of Using ‘Since’ to Mean ‘Because’
Some take issue with (argue, criticize) using since to mean because, as (see what I did there?) since is usually used to indicate how much time has passed. (Think of the present perfect tense.)
- “I’ve been working for Bespeaking since 2015.”
One thing to watch out for when using as and since to mean because is to make sure that your sentences are very clear so that your meaning in the sentence isn’t misinterpreted.
- “Since they spoke, she doesn’t love him anymore.”
Be careful! In this sentence, since can be read in two ways – can you spot them?
- “Because they spoke, she doesn’t love him anymore,” or,
- “From the time that they spoke, she doesn’t love him anymore.”
Make sure you are as clear as possible when using as and since to mean because! We don’t want you to be misunderstood.
Have you ever tried using as or since to mean because? Why not give it a shot in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and since she’s been writing the Bespeaking blog, and as she loves a good story, she can’t imagine life anymore without these fascinating English topics! Keep your questions coming because she would love to answer them!