What's the difference between them? For example,

But for language, there would be no thought.

Can this be replaced like the following sentence?

With no language, there would be no thought.

Also, can they be rewritten using "without"?

  • The second one sounds a bit more natural to me and using without would be fine.
    – mdewey
    Dec 6, 2020 at 13:50
  • Oh the first example sentence is quoted from my textbook lol
    – ra1ned
    Dec 6, 2020 at 14:14
  • The first example is OK, it is just that the second sounded a bit more natural. Probably some other speakers would think the opposite.
    – mdewey
    Dec 6, 2020 at 14:17
  • 1
    Both mean the same. But for (meaning if it was not for, so if [it] didn't exist) is a bit more 'literary' in flavour. Dec 6, 2020 at 16:27
  • I got it! Thank you
    – ra1ned
    Dec 7, 2020 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


But for language, there would be no thought.

This sentence is voluntarily formal, probably claiming to sound like an axiom, or a general truth. I do like its expression, especially if used in the appropriate context.

In spoken language, however, one would more naturally say the second. If you decide to use without be sure to use any after it.

Without any language, there would be no thought.

In conclusion, if you are more concerned about the natural use of English, your second version of the sentence prevails.

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