Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm writing a paper about the interpretation of a treaty and I want to include a chapter on the historical background to explain why a certain article must be interpreted a certain way. In this context should I say the historical background for Treaty X, the historical background of Treaty X or use a different preposition entirely?

I checked both phrases on google and each had several million hits. Background of had more, but if the sense changes somewhat with the choice of preposition then that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

share|improve this question
1  
"I still find the prepositions thoroughly confusing." That means it's working! –  Robusto Feb 29 '12 at 14:00
    
"I still find the prepositions thoroughly confusing" implies the articles are still causing some confusion too. –  FumbleFingers Feb 29 '12 at 16:43
    
Hey, never claimed prepositions were the only thing to throw me off ;) –  Astrid Feb 29 '12 at 20:07
    
You might want to consider using "historical context of" instead. It may convey your meaning slightly more accurately. –  Christi Feb 29 '12 at 22:03
add comment

3 Answers

People do often use "of" (or even "for") as the preposition in this usage, but personally I prefer:

"the historical background to [Treaty x]"

share|improve this answer
    
Could you briefly state your reasons? Intuitively, I likewise tend to prefer the proposition to over of -- being no native speaker, however, I am uncertain about my intuitions. –  ClintEastwood Mar 25 '13 at 11:29
    
@ClintEastwood: It's not really a matter of "reasons/logic" - just idiomatic tendencies. I prefer the version I read/hear most often, which is probably the same one most other Anglophones use/encounter. In this context, our "intuitions" are nothing to do with telling us which preposition is objectively "correct" (at least three are "valid"). They just tell us which version we're most familiar with (which I still suspect is probably to for most native speakers, even if they haven't upvoted this answer). –  FumbleFingers Mar 25 '13 at 13:53
add comment

I've never heard of Background For typically I'd see Historical Background of, or Treaty X's Historical Background

share|improve this answer
add comment

Neither are wrong. It's a matter of popularity of usuage and choice.

"Historical background of Treaty X" would be a more common usage.

Other common usages include:

He comes from a background of illiteracy.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.