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As far as I know, prepositions are followed by a noun or noun phrase or a wh-clause. But the following sentence confused me because the author used a complete sentence after the "for".

But evidently the sound of it pleased Gastby for Tom remained "the polo player" for the rest of the evening.

I don't understand why the author didn't use this form :

But evidently the sound of it pleased Gastby for Tom remaining "the polo player" for the rest of the evening

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Here "for" is not being used as a preposition, it's a conjunction - a synonym for "because".

As that Wiktionary link points out, this usage is quite dated; you wouldn't use it now, but it would have been reasonably common at the time Gatsby was set.

  • I think using modern grammar to explain old forms is anachronistic. For here clearly functions as a conjunction. – Lambie Mar 11 at 17:50
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    Contemporary grammar treats this "for" as a preposition, not a subordinator. Likewise "because". – BillJ Mar 11 at 17:50
  • Contemporary grammar does not apply to historical usages. – Lambie Mar 11 at 17:51
  • @Lambie This use of for wasn't deemed so historical as to be excluded from Huddleston and Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), where they suggest the preposition analysis is more suitable than the coordinator one for the reasons they provide. – userr2684291 Mar 11 at 18:34
  • @userr2684291 Oh yes, the gods of modern grammar. I can't see the reasons but it would not matter anyway. When one substitutes because for for, the sentence immediately becomes obvious. There's no point in even mentioning grammar when the semantic value here is what makes the difference. – Lambie Mar 11 at 18:39
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But evidently the sound of it pleased Gastby for Tom remained "the polo player" for the rest of the evening.

"For" is a preposition, which here has a similar meaning to the prepositions "because" and "since".

Prepositions can take a wide range of complements, not just NPs, but predicatives, PPs, AdvPs and clauses.

In your example, the preposition "for" has the declarative content clause Tom remained the polo player for the rest of the evening as its complement.

Your suggestion of using "remaining" won't work as it can't satisfy the complement requirements of "for", which in this instance means "because".

  • "for Tom remained the polo player for the rest of the evening" does not mean: "Tom remained the polo player for the rest of the evening". The latter is not even in the text. And the meaning is completely different. – Lambie Mar 11 at 18:04
  • @Lambie That's not what the answer says either; rather, it says for takes the quoted clause as complement. – userr2684291 Mar 11 at 18:39

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