Friday, February 16, 2007

"For" as a Coordinating Conjunction

What are the stylistic conventions of using "for" as a coordinating conjunction:

I left early, for I felt sick.

They hired him, for his application was superior to the other applicants.

I ask this because I used to employ this technique a lot when I was younger. I stopped for three reasons: it did not see like a commonly used; it seemed like a cheap transition; it stilted the prose in some cases. I am wondering what copy editors or editors think about this construction?

1 comment:

Pat said...

When we were working on Beyond Words: Asian Writers on Their Work, our summer 2006 issue, I noticed that the conjunction for appeared in some of the pieces. American writers rarely use it as a conjunction.

However, I don't think that rarity is a good reason for not using it. If anything, the American repertoire of rhetorical and stylistic devices needs to be expanded. (This is the main reason I am a supporter of the colon.) I would therefore encourage you to keep the conjunction in your toolbox and use it when the urge strikes.

You are a good writer, Ryan, and using for may be one of the things that make your work different from others'.