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I always read this (for example), but example is a countable noun. So, I think it should be 'for an example'.

Please check both sentences and let me know, which one is correct:

Knowing the weather will help you prepare your clothes, as well as plan your commute. For example.

VS

Knowing the weather will help you prepare your clothes, as well as plan your commute. For an example.

Please note:

My focus is just on for an example or for example. I do not care about the entire sentence.

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    For example is an idiom. Also, it is not a complete sentence on its own. Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:19
  • So, which one I should use when I am going to talk about an example?
    – user62015
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:21
  • Its typical pattern is: "For example, ..." Let's say that you're explaining the importance of information. You can give your example like this: "Information is very important in our daily life. For example, knowing the weather will help ..." Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:28
  • Thank. And if I use 'for an example' instead of 'for example', will it be right?
    – user62015
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:33
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    That is what I'm not very sure. Usually, if an idiom exists, other similar alternative will subside. It could look odd if you used it. I would recommend not to use it. But saying that "for an example" is wrong is another matter. And I believe that you can get better answers from others. Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:38

2 Answers 2

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It's likely that "for example" is the correct phrase in this case, and is a widely used idiom in English, but it depends on what you want to say.

If you want to provide an example right then and there, you need to say "For example" or - if you really want to use the article - you could say "As an example" or "An example might be", or any such construct. A sample sentence might be:

For example, one way to clean silver coins is to wash them with water.

Note that in such a case, you can't use the plural: *"For examples, ways to clean coins include water and baking soda" would be wrong.

However, there are also situations in which using "for an example" would be perfectly acceptable and, in fact, the only correct thing to write:

For an example of how to clean silver coins, refer to this book.

Note that the phrase "for an example" here is used differently than "for example" in the previous sentence. Instead of specifically providing an example, the speaker is only telling people where they can find that example. And, in such a case, you should definitely use the "an" article.

Note that here, you can use the plural: *"For examples of how to clean coins, refer to this book" would imply that the book contains many examples, not just a single one.

Looking back at your example sentences, here is how both of your sentences could be continued:

Knowing the weather will help you prepare your clothes, as well as plan your commute. For an example of how to dress appropriately, you may wish to look at photographs of locals taken in the season you will be travelling.

Knowing the weather will help you prepare your clothes, as well as plan your commute. For example, if you are travelling to Warsaw in November, you should definitely pack a raincoat, as Poland is very rainy then.

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For example is very widely used in English. For an example may be technically correct, however it is almost never used in conversation or writing. Sometimes something like 'An example of this is:' or 'An example would be:' could be used.

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  • For example is a very widely used idiom. For an example by itself is grammatically correct, but very rare usage. You can say, For an example of this situation, recall that.... You can also say, As an example, recall that....
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 14:41

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