When should which be used and what's the difference?

Department of XYZ or Department for XYZ

Institute of ABC or Institute for ABC

Federal Office of... or Federal Office for...

Is there any sort of rule for this?

The "problem" is that it's an ongoing debate in the Department (non-English-speaking country) on how to properly translate it into English.

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    Largely of makes more sense, but for is often used (in the UK government). If you're naming a government website, go look it up on their webpage. If you're naming departments within your own organisation, I'd go with of. – AndrewC Jun 27 '14 at 8:00
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    Use the official name as published, since it varies. For instance, Canada currently has a Minister of Foreign Affairs, but it used to have a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs doing the same job. – bye Jun 27 '14 at 8:01
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    The UK has a Department for Transport; the US has a Department of Transportation. Since of and for are both used, and the original name is not English, choose whichever sounds best. Unless the original name has a preposition, in which case translate that. – Andrew Leach Jun 27 '14 at 10:31

I believe you are specifically asking this question to avoid a possible embarrassing translation.


Institute for the Criminally Insane

Most likely means an institute which helps and/or houses the criminally insane

Institute of the Criminally Insane

Perhaps is an institute run by persons who are criminally insane and/or an institute which advances the status of the criminally insane.

The second example is admittedly humorous and is intended to exaggerate the difference in connotation. Your use of either 'of' or 'for' should surely be determined by the context of the actual name it is to be applied to. No doubt someone in your own department's debate has mentioned a similar example to the one I have given.


Whether one uses "of" or "for" depends on the semantics. If the subject is part of a whole, it is 'of' its genus. If the subject represents, acts for or advocates a part (the object) - it is 'for' its subset. So we may say the University of the West Indies is the Secretariat for Caribbean Conferences.

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