1

The title more or less says it all. In particular, I'm considering the title of a presentation or short article. I'll say that it's a discussion of new discoveries that might come from pursuing a "Project X". The title is currently (not by my doing) "Prospects of Project X", but my gut feeling is that it should rather be "Prospects for Project X". Glancing at a few examples it looks like there isn't a clear distinction, although a Google Fight gave "Prospects for" as the winner.

So, which should it be? "Prospects of Project X" or "Prospects for Project X"?

3 Answers 3

2

For the record, I'd sharply dispute that your question title “more or less says it all.” The better preposition would depend on the nature of the project, and the nature of the prospects as well (which may explain why the Google Fight you linked to was such a close match). It's context dependent; you haven't furnished enough information by asking us to choose between the very vague "Prospects of Project X," or "Prospects for Project X."

What might be the ultimate result of these new discoveries? Will they:

  • Solve a nation's energy crisis?
  • Help a law firm win a case?
  • Expand the customer base of a manufacturing plant?
  • Cause fourth quarter profits to rise sharply?
  • Make a dangerous machine more safe to operate?
  • Eradicate or cure a disease?

I might decide to use a different preposition, depending on what prospects are being presented, and how those might be discussed.

Macmillan and Collins both list several definitions for prospect, each with a slightly different nuance of meaning:

(a) something that you expect or know is going to happen in the future, or the thought of this
(b) something hoped for or expected; anticipated outcome
(c) ([usually pl.]) apparent chance for success
(d) the possibility that something will happen, especially something good

Interestingly enough, the last one I listed comes with two usage examples in Macmillan, one using each of the two prepositions you inquired about:

prospect for: The prospects for employment in the technology sector are especially good right now.
prospect of: Doctors say there is little prospect of any improvement in his condition.

So, to show how this can be context-dependent:

Project X: find a more streamlined manufacturing process for making widgets
Potential Discovery: a cheaper way to make widgets
Repercussions: higher profits, or greater market share due to lowered prices
My Presentation Title: Prospects for Streamlining Widget Manufacturing
Why: By "prospects" here, I'm referring to the optimism that the process can be improved [meaning (b) above]; for seems to be the better fit.
Example Paraphrase: Our prospects for improving the manufacturing process look good.

On the other hand:

Project X: find a cure for toe cancer
Protential Discovery: a cure
Repercussions: new advances in medicine
My Presentation Title: Prospects of Finding a Cure for Toe Cancer
Why: By "prospects" here, I'm referring to the likelihood that a cure can be found [meaning (c) above]; of seems to be the better fit.
Example Paraphrase: The prospects of finding a cure are slim.

3
  • Thanks, this is a clear and thorough answer. I didn't realise it could be so nuanced! In my case, Project X is an open-ended research project, so I think we'll go with "for".
    – Warrick
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 5:06
  • Is the suggestion here that usage (b) favors "for" and usage (c) favors "of"? If not, I'm not sure what role the differential definitions are doing. If so, do you have any sense of whether usage (a) favors one preposition over another or why either is permissible in the case of (d)? This is important because granted, that the appropriate usage is context-dependent, it would be nice to have some sense of how it is context-dependent that would enable us to extrapolate to further cases in some quasi-systematic way.
    – Marmitrob
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 3:56
  • Different comment because this is a different thought: I am not convinced that (b) is the most salient definition in your first example, (c) strikes me as more applicable. Usage (b) seems to be exemplified in statements like "this prospect was not realized" (i.e. anticipations/hopes were not fulfilled). In general, research projects seem to have an open-ended/interrogative quality that would generally favor (c) as the most likely usage.
    – Marmitrob
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 4:00
0

Definitely "Prospects for".

Sounds to me like that you already have a winner in your own mind, but if you would like to mark my response as the answer, I would definitely go with "Prospects for" when its up against "Prospects of"

1
  • Please state why. What is the difference between the two? Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 17:57
-1

I would regard the prospect of an endeavour as indicating its chance of taking place, and the prospect(s) for it as indicating its chances of successful accomplishment.

2
  • Thank you for your effort. Stack Exchange answers are “right” answers, not ideas, suggestions, or opinions. To show that yours is the right answer, please edit to include explanation, context, and supporting facts. In your answer, you can offer evidence, or contrast your answer with other answers. Whatever will make this the “right” answer. See: “Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions”.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 21:54
  • I doubt very much whether a 'right' answer exists in absolute terms. All prospects, by definition, look forward 'Prospect for' looks further into the future than 'prospect of' which has a greater sense of uncertainty. I sense that in these usages, but you would be right to say that that is mere opinion. Fowler addresses only pronunciation, so quite possibly, he thought the subsequent preposition form optional.
    – David
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 22:43

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