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I cant tell when i should use them or if they are interchangeable

Examples

I don't eat meat (for/because of) various reasons

Scotland is famous (for/because of) its spectacular countryside

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2 Answers 2

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They are very different:

  • "Because" introduces a reason for something
  • "For" introduces a purpose.

The only reason they are ever interchangeable is that sometimes the reason and the purpose may be the same thing.

For example, if your Doctor told you to eat more fruit because your health was poor, the reason for eating fruit is your poor health, but the purpose of eating it is to gain good health. So, you could say both:

  • I'm eating more fruit because of my health.
  • I'm eating more fruit for my health.

In different scenarios, this would not be the case. For example, if you were eating in your garden but being attacked by wasps, you might say:

  • I'm taking my food inside because of the wasps.

That would mean the wasps are the reason you are going inside. You wouldn't say "I'm taking my food inside for the wasps" because that would sound like you were going to give your food to the wasps inside.


Looking at your examples:

I don't eat meat for/because of various reasons

This example is a little complex because you are citing 'reasons' but not actually saying what they are. "Because" introduces a reason, so you would use that if you were saying what that reason was (eg "I don't eat meat because it is unethical"), but here you should use "for" because you do it in support of your reasons.

Scotland is famous (for/because of) its spectacular countryside

In this example, either could work. You could say it is "famous for its spectacular countryside" because it is still famous. You could also say it is "famous because of its spectacular countryside" because it is historically famous.

Consider something historically famous that doesn't exist anymore such as the Roman Empire. If you spoke of it in the past tense (eg using "was") you could say "The Roman empire was famous for its military might". However, even though it doesn't exist to speak of in the present tense, you could still speak of its fame in the present tense, because people still know about it today. In doing so, you couldn't use "for" because there is no future purpose in a dead empire - you would have to say "the Roman Empire is remembered because of its military might".

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  • The 2nd example in the OP is the fixed phrase famous for There's no purpose in: "Wasps and bees are famous for ruining many a picnic."
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 25, 2020 at 10:18
  • @Mari-LouA I didn't use that phrase?
    – Astralbee
    Nov 25, 2020 at 10:59
  • You didn't mention "famous for" at all in the answer before the edit that was my point.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 25, 2020 at 11:00
  • @Astralbee I looked in all the dictionaries and it says that 'for' among its various meanings,one of them is for introducing reason. Also i searched up sentences containing 'is remembered for' it popped up some examples like:"He is remembered for his contributions" . This response confused me even more. Nov 26, 2020 at 1:32
  • @Astralbee PS:Talking about my example: he is remembered FOR a 'reason' it couldn't be a 'purpose'. Nov 26, 2020 at 1:40
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No, they are not generally interchangeable.For the reason that/for various reasons and famous for are fairly standard expressions. However, you could say

I don't eat meat because of my objection to killing animals/because I object to...

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