by Barbara McNichol
Do you know when to use the words as, since, and because?
As with most grammar rules, people writing for business purposes might see the differences as an exercise in hair-splitting. However, each word conveys a slightly different meaning.
If you agree that clarity in communication is essential, and that poor grammar can affect your reputation among peers and superiors, you understand how strong writing makes a good impression.
Master the proper use of these three conjunctions, and you’ll make yourself understood—and trusted.
What are conjunctions, and what is their role in a sentence?
As, because, and since are all conjunctions that introduce a subordinate clause. They provide the reason for the action in the main clause.
Sandy has to approve all vacation time because Roger left the human resources department.
Monday will be a paid holiday since Remembrance Day falls on a Tuesday this year.
All vacation inquiries will have to be done in person, as Sandy hasn’t updated the online calendar yet.
In all these examples, the subordinate clause provides the reason for the action in question. In addition, it is dependent on the main clause, meaning it has no meaning without it! The main clause, on the other hand, can stand on its own without the subordinate clause.
Using as vs since vs because: not splitting hairs.
If you want the information to resonate with your readers, choosing the correct conjunction is key.
- Where do I want the emphasis?
- Do I want the reader to focus on the reason or the result?
If you want to emphasize the result, use since or as.
- I hope Sandy attends the meeting [result], as I’m eager to hear her organizational plans for the human resources department [reason].
- Good human resources managers are hard to keep [result] since the job comes with so much pressure [reason].
In both of these examples, the result is at the forefront.
However, when you want your readers to pay close attention to the reason, use because.
- Because the human resources department is lacking consistent leadership employee turnover has been a challenge.
- Did you leave the engineering department because you were frustrated by the lack of resources?
- It’s important to seal all the hatches when you leave the maintenance room because the filters in the air purifiers have to be kept under pressure.
The causes – or reasons – are clear in these sentences, and draw the reader’s attention.
Using because eliminates the ambiguity in a sentence, as well. Consider using since vs because in this scenario:
- I understand the new vacation policy much better because I read the employee manual.
- I understand the new vacation policy much better since I read the employee manual.
In the first sentence, the reader understands that you gained a better understanding of the policy as a result of reading the manual.
What about in the second sentence? When did you gain a better understanding? Some time after reading the manual? Or due to information you found in the manual? Your reader may be able to infer the meaning, but it’s best not to make them guess.
There’s never a bad time for good writing.
Persuasive writing should be crisp and direct. When you’re in a business setting your readers are busy and their time is precious. Don’t waste any of it using ambiguous words or clunky grammar.
Your readers might not be grammar experts, but poor spelling and syntax are a distraction from your message. That comes down to paying attention when faced with word choices like as vs since vs because.
You can access a variety of resources. You can even sign up for my Word Trippers Tips and get grammar tips delivered to your inbox every week.
It’s time to make friends with good writing, and I can help. Contact me to find out how, and share your most common “word trippers” with me, too.
Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you communicate effectively:
Common Grammar Miscues that Undermine Good Writing
Why Make a BIG DEAL Out of Correct Spelling and Grammar?