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I came across the following sentence on an English website for ESL students.

Since/Because she stopped eating chocolate last week, she's eating more fruit!

They asked to choose between the two words Since and Because. It turned out that the right word was Because, but I'm not sure of that because, for me, the meaning of sentence is not clear enough. I expressed my doub in a comment, then they replied:

"She's stopped eating chocolate because it contains too much sugar, and has started to eat more fruit because it's just as sweet, tasty, and healthier. It's possible!"

Yes, it's possible, but one might stop eating chocolate for more than one reason. I mean, there is not any logical reason to link "stop eating chocolate" with "eating more fruit". Since might be just as correct and consistent. Moreover, Since may refer to time and make the sentence clearer and more logical to me. I hope I have been clear.

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marked as duplicate by choster, Hellion, Kinzle B, Bob the zealot, Chenmunka Jul 25 at 7:33

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Is this a duplicate? –  Bob the zealot Jul 24 at 18:16
    
@choster, I'm glad to read more useful examples on the topic. :-) –  jeysmith Jul 24 at 20:34
    
I agree this is a duplicate, but I think the other question should be marked as a duplicate, as this one is better written. Answers from the prior question can be merged in here. –  Esoteric Screen Name Jul 25 at 1:58
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I disagree it is a duplicate. In the other question, since/because are used as synonyms. This question illustrates how since can sometimes not be a synonym to because, and the potential ambiguity that results. –  Codeswitcher Jul 25 at 2:27

3 Answers 3

There are actually two issues here: the meaning of the first clause, and the word used.

In idiomatic American English, at least, "since" and "because" can be synonyms, both meaning "for the reason that."

Since you didn't ask, I assumed you weren't interested.

"Since" also has a second meaning, indicating the passage of time:

I've been waiting here since six o'clock!

"Since" is often used in a lot of sentences that carry both meanings, or are somewhat ambiguous as to which:

Since she bought that juicer, she's been buying a lot of fruit.

or, more idiomatically in an informal context:

Ever since she bought that juicer, she's been buying a lot of fruit.

This is implying both a period of time and a cause/effect relationship.

I agree with your teacher that, in this instance, to a native speaker, the emphasis, as a whole, will be on the cause/effect relationship and not simply the time relationship. "Since" is still a perfectly reasonable alternative to "because" in this sentence. However, "because" would still be preferable to my ear, because of the verb phrase "she's eating". Because "since" refers to a period of past time, it would be more idiomatic to say:

Since she stopped eating chocolate last week, she's been eating more fruit.

In the end, I still come out on your teacher's side, but not for quite the reasons you were given.

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Yes, I've understood. Perhaps, it would have been better to avoid that kind of sentence for an English grammar exercise. It may be misleading. –  jeysmith Jul 24 at 19:07

The way I see it, it could go either way, depending on whether the speaker means "ever since" or "due to the fact." It's a horribly confusing sentence for teaching purposes and Jey's confusion is valid.

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Yes, I agree with you. It's a confusing sentence for teaching purposes. –  jeysmith Jul 24 at 19:53
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Agreed. Both a perfectly valid English sentences, they just mean two different things -- except when one is used as an idiom to mean the other. In a vacuum, "since" is a more logical conclusion, because correlation does not imply causation! Hrmph! –  Codeswitcher Jul 25 at 2:25
    
@codeswitcher, Yes, you hit the nail right on the head! –  jeysmith Jul 25 at 6:19

I agree that 'since' is better in this sentence than 'because' since it identifies the time when she stopped eating chocolate ("last week") and what she has been doing from that point on.

If the example sentence didn't include the "last week," using "because" to illustrate the causal relationship between the cessation of chocolate consumption and commencement of fruit consumption might make sense (not that I buy their argument about sugar).

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It's exactly what I thought when I first read that sentence! –  jeysmith Jul 24 at 19:15

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