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I am writing some technical documentation and I'm wondering whether of or for is the best word to use in the following sentence:

The framework and architecture will form the basis {of|for} our web applications.

This is a fairly specific example. Is there a general rule for this? Or is it more of a case-by-case decision?

  • 'The basis of ...' is referring the static structure as or when it is built. 'The basis for ...' is more strongly connoting the initial building block of the building process. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 5 '18 at 13:43
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Both.

Forming the basis of means it is essentially the sole basis.

OTOH,

Forming the basis for could mean it is one of the factors forming the basis.

basis of:

Agriculture is the main occupation, with tobacco and cotton crops forming the basis of much local industry.

basis for:

The company continued to prosper, forming the basis for much of the commercial activity of colonial Canada.

[emphasis mine]

Regardless, it seems there's a tendency these days to prefer for over of, especially in AmE.

English:
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American English:
enter image description here

eCFR:

A complaint shall be filed within one year after the date on which the (...) receives a grievance forming the basis of the complaint. No complaint shall be filed more than ten years after the date on which the misconduct forming the basis for the proceeding occurred. [emphasis mine]

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I believe they are both grammatically correct, so it's a matter of personal choice.

Google Ngram indicates that, as of 2000, basis of was used roughly 65% of the time, while basis for was used 35% of the time.

(It doesn't matter, but, mirroring that statistic, basis of sounds more natural to me.)

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I tell my students that the choice of preposition depends on whether the following noun represents the subject or the object of the verb.

Based on your research, we have made the following decision.

We made a decision on the basis of your research. (introducing the 'subject')

Your research was the basis for our decision. (introducing the 'object')

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