I have encountered the word "for" many times. But, even if I use the dictionary, I can not understand the meaning of this word used at the beginning of a sentence.

Here is an example: It would be an excellent match. For he was rich and she was handsome.

Does it always mean because?

Thank you.

  • You may find English Language Learners useful. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jan 12 '14 at 16:29
  • 1
    This is the coordinating conjunction for; like and, or, and but, it can begin a sentence, for rhetorical effect. It means the same thing as the subordinating conjunction because. This usage is rather archaic and rhetorical, however, and indicates a very non-colloquial stance. Like reciting poetry, speeches, or prayers. Especially from the 18th and 19th centuries. – John Lawler Jan 12 '14 at 19:28
  • For a truly hypnotic experience, read the 75-line excerpt from Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart: poemhunter.com/poem/… . For every line begins with "For." – Sven Yargs Jan 13 '14 at 5:41
  • oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/for_2 (for, conjunction) – rogermue Oct 13 '15 at 13:16

No, it can mean several things, and I'd say your example is an odd usage. It's either a poem or it's fairly old usage (or both).

Ways I'd expect to see a modern sentence start with "for" would be:

  • For some time, he had been wondering if this was the right thing to do.

  • For example, red cars tend to get more speeding tickets than blue cars.

  • For many of us, a challenging job is more important than a high-paying job.

  • For which crime are you arresting me?


"For" may mean "since", "because". For example, take this song from Nick Cave:

They call me The Wild Rose / But my name was Elisa Day / Why they call me it I do not know / FOR my name was Elisa Day (Where The Wild Roses Grow)

This use for "for" is pretty common, actually.


here in preceding sentence, "for" is being used as conjunction that means because. Generally, you can't use "for" as a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence. Most of time, "for" is used for giving reason. ex- I am here, for she is ill.

You can edit your sentence adding 'comma' in place of 'period' just before for.

  • Hello (belatedly) Rahul. Though you may have been taught not to start a sentence with a coordinator (and, but, for ...), it is not considered wrong by most English linguists nowadays. Certainly not to be ungrammatical, though overdoing it is admittedly poor style. Read Professor John Lawler's comment. // Wayne shows one idiom usage (for example) and three prepositional uses, which are fine at the start of a sentence. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 17 '16 at 16:35

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