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I have encountered the word for many times. But, even if I use the dictionary, I can not understand the meaning of this word used at the beginning of a sentence.

Here is an example:

It would be an excellent match. For he was rich and she was handsome.

Does it always mean because?

  • No, for doesn't "always" mean because. For example: It would be an excellent match – for a little while, at least. – J.R. Jan 13 '14 at 11:17
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  1. If for is followed by a finite clause (a clause headed by a tensed verbform), it means because, as in your example:

    ? For he was rich and she was handsome.

    This is, by the way, only marginally acceptable in formal writing, since for acts to subordinate the clause which follows it, just as because does. You can get away with it if the register you are working in tolerates sentence fragments, but otherwise your example would be better pointed with a comma:

    okIt would be an excellent match, for he was rich and she was handsome.   

    Note that unlike a because clause, a for clause of this sort cannot in Modern English precede the matrix clause which it modifies:

    For he was rich and she was handsome, it would be an excellent match.

  2. If for is followed by an NP (a phrase headed by, and acting as, a noun), for is a preposition and the NP is its object. Together they comprise a preposition phrase, which may stand at the beginning of a sentence:

    For most people, this would be an excellent match.

  3. If for is followed by a non-finite clause headed by a marked infinitive (to + VERBINF), it acts as a complementizer, marking the clause which follows it as an argument of the verb in the matrix clause; if it lies at the beginning of a sentence that clause will normally act as the subject of the verb in the governing clause:

    For these two to marry would be an excellent match.

    Such for ... to clauses may also act as the object of a verb, noun, adjective or adverb, but in these cases for will not lie at the beginning of the sentence:

    He was eager for these two to marry.
    We saw little opportunity for these two to marry.


indicates that the following utterance is unacceptable.
? indicates that the following utterance is in some cases unacceptable.

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