Writers are sometimes puzzled about whether to use “because,” “since,” or “as” to indicate a connection between two events.
An old rule commands that “since” be used exclusively for events involving the passage of time, but this ukase is debunked by most grammarians. Other experts say that “since” implies a more tenuous cause-effect relationship than “because.”
But I have a different take on the matter. In my own writing, I avoid “since” wherever “because” works. This helps prevent ambiguity and the possibility of miscuing the reader. Consider the sentence “Since the negative earnings report was published, the stock declined.” Does the writer mean that one event caused the other – or simply that time elapsed between them?
As for “as,” this word may also communicate a confusing or ambiguous message. Example: “As I’m traveling to Chicago, I can run that errand for you.” Does the “as” here mean “because” or “while”? If “because” makes sense, use it instead of “as.”[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book recently published by AWAI that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]