Since vs. Because, While vs. Although

Clock - when you are writng about time what words are bestSince and while are among many words related to time. But because they can have more than one meaning, they can be misinterpreted if not used carefully.

We all know and understand before, first, then, next, after, early, soon, late, eventually, finally, immediately, momentarily, simultaneously, suddenly, during, seldom, sometime, often, today, tonight, tomorrow and still.

Here’s a ruthless editor’s view on since vs. because and while vs. although.

Since can mean from the time that or during the intervening period. It also can mean because:

Since her interpreter left, Caila learned to speak French fluently.
Since Joe spoke to me about the project, I’ve heard nothing further from him.

Did Caila simply begin to master French after her interpreter moved on? Or was it because of the interpreter’s departure that Caila began to learn French? Each has a different connotation: timing or causation.

In the example about Joe and the project, did he simply stop communicating with me after we spoke about the project? Or did he stop communicating because of something he learned about the project when we talked? Was it timing or causation?

While can mean a period of time or during the time. It also can mean although.

While Sam explained his theory, the professor did not accept his explanation.
While Heather drew the wall elevation in great detail, the carpenter could not get the new window to fit the frame.

Was this a case where although Sam explained his theory, the professor denied its potential validity? Or did the professor cut Sam off in mid-sentence while he talked?

Was the carpenter on-site while Heather was creating the wall elevation on her computer? Or was it a case of the carpenter not being able to install the window, although Heather had provided him with a detailed plan?

Just as creating an opening and installing a window requires attention to detail, so does clear communication. You’ve probably heard “Measure twice, cut once.” A carpenter pays attention to details before he acts. We should pay attention to details of word connotations before we speak or write.

For more free tips on word use, explore my other blog posts and sign up for my monthly Killer Tips from a Ruthless Editor in the upper right corner of this page.


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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)