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Which one of below two sentence is correct?

  1. The Department for Education said its decisions were based on new infections and the pressure on the NHS in local areas.
  2. The Department of Education said its decisions were based on new infections and the pressure on the NHS in local areas.
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  • Not long ago it was the Department for Children Schools and Families. Governments change the names of the departments at whim.
    – James K
    Jan 3, 2021 at 17:00

3 Answers 3

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This isn't a question of grammar but of what the department is named, which varies from place to place and from era to era.

In the UK, it's called the Department for Education (but was known as the Department of Education and Science from 1964 to 1992, and the Board of Education pre-1964).

The quotation you give refers to the NHS (the UK National Health Service) so suggests a British context.

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    Yes, the UK Government for some reason decided to start using for instead of of in all its official names. Jan 3, 2021 at 9:14
  • @KateBunting - not the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Jan 3, 2021 at 9:19
  • @MichaelHarvey Interesting. Ministry used to be the general term for government departments, but I thought they had all been changed to Department. (Speaking from memories of being a library cataloguer and having to cross-reference all the changes of name!) Jan 3, 2021 at 9:35
  • @KateBunting You have (currently) Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, plus a whole bunch of Departments for something. The MOD seems to mainly use a capital 'O', and the MoJ a little 'o' in their abbreviations but these aren't official anyway. There are a number of Ministerial Departments that have different name styles such as the Attorney General's Office, Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, HM Treasury, etc. Jan 3, 2021 at 10:23
  • Just to add more confusion: there's also the Home Office, "which is considered to be one of the Great Offices of State, [and] continues to be known, especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament, as the Home Department." Jan 3, 2021 at 15:46
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Both should be proper grammar, but we usually say "The Department of Education" as in the second sentence.

Actually there is both:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_for_Education

The above is "Department for Education".

And:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Education

Is "Department of Education".

I think in the UK they maybe use "for" too, but in the US it's "of".

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Both are used.

If it’s a proper name, then it uses whatever the proper name uses. In the US this is usually ‘of’ for governmental departments, while in the UK it’s usually ‘for’ for governmental departments.

If it’s not a proper name (which is rare), it’s entirely up to the person speaking, but will usually follow whichever form they are more used to.

In either case, you may also instead see ‘Education Department’ or similar constructs where the purpose of the department is listed first, though that seems to be more commonly used in businesses or universities than in governments.


Of possible note, both forms can be argued to be shortened forms of ‘Department for the management/handling/oversight/purpose of X’. English likes to keep titles short whenever possible. See for example how ‘Doctor’ is often used in preference to referencing the area of study of the individual’s doctoral degree (and the confusion this sometimes causes when people who are not medical doctors insist on usage of the title ‘Doctor’ in general contexts).

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