CGEL included a wide variety in the category of preposition (but not "BECAUSE"). But some people say that 'for' can be a subordinating conjunction (subordinator) as 'meaningless marker of subordination' while 'because' is a preposition with a distinct meaning, which can take a subordinate clause as prepositional complement.

"I bought the book because I wanted to read it."

Here, 'because' is a preposition introducing a subordinate clause "because I wanted to read it." (I doubt it)

We can write this sentence using the subordinator 'for' :

"I bought the book for reading it". ("reading it" : gerund-participle non-finite clause).

Is 'because' a preposition or a subordinator? Can we write the sentence with the subordinator 'for' introducing a finite subordinate clause?

(Edit : "Reason clauses are most commonly introduced by the subordinators 'because' and 'since'. . . . " (CGEL, Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech Svartvik, Page : 1104.)

  • Yes, "because" is best classified as a preposition (though trad grammar treats it as a subordinating conjunction).
    – BillJ
    May 10, 2020 at 11:33
  • @BillJ, CGEL (page 1104) by Quirk, Greenbaum, says : "Reason clauses are most commonly introduced by the subordinators 'because' and 'since'. Is there any authentic reference that says that 'because' is a preposition? May 10, 2020 at 11:49
  • CGEL tells about the wide varieties in the category of preposition; but I have found nowhere that because is a preposition. You only gave me a reference from wikitionary and said that because is a preposition. But I haven't found it in any grammar book. May 10, 2020 at 11:53
  • I don't think think CGEL is wrong. The new idea (because is a preposition) is not backed by any authentic reference. It only exists in the very informal conversational structure : because + noun, such as "No work tomorrow because holidays!", which I think is ungrammatical. May 10, 2020 at 12:00
  • 2
    Eh? Who's talking about the ungrammatical *"because holidays"? That has nothing to do with whether or not "because" is a prep. What research have you done on this? I suggest you read this and then come back to us link
    – BillJ
    May 10, 2020 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


Which CGEL? "The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language” (Quirk et al) - or "The Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language” (Huddleston et al) – (I suspect Huddleston - I don't think anyone else would call "because" a preposition.)

Consider the nuances: 1. I bought the book because I wanted to read it. -> caused by my wanting to read it

  1. I bought the book for I wanted to read it. -> for [the reason of] my wanting to read it.

  2. I bought the book as I wanted to read it. -> [in the manner/circumstances of] my wanting to read it.

  3. I bought the book when I wanted to read it. -> [at the time of] my wanting to read it.

  4. I bought the book in Paris where I wanted to read it. -> [at the place of] my wanting to read it.


You will see that “because” encompasses all types of “causes”, e.g. reason; purpose; manner; environment; time, etc. but “for” tends to be more specific

On usage, “The New Fowler's Modern English Usage” (Revised third edition 1998) explains


1 For is sometimes used as a coordinating conjunction, i.e. one that connects two independent sentences (see 3 below), but it should be said first that its most frequent use (apart from its employment as a preposition) is to join a sentence and a non-finite clause, esp. one of the type 'sentence +for + noun (phrase) + to-infinitive': he waited for the lock to click; it is time for their legal rights to be clarified. In such constructions the negative particle is normally placed before the to of the infinitive: it would be more sensible for the code not to be enacted as law.

2 Unlike some other coordinating conjunctions its position in the sentence is sequentially fixed (though even a century ago it was not), i.e. it cannot normally be placed at the beginning of a sentence. Its function is to introduce the ground or reason for something previously stated: *he picked his way down carefully, step by step, for the steps were narrow—*G. Greene, 1988 (for the steps were narrow could not have been placed before he picked his way down, etc.). In this respect it differs markedly from other coordinating conjunctions, e.g. because, since, which suffer from no such restriction.

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