James J. Kilpatrick

From The New Yorker, on the then-pending nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court: "Since inferences are all there will be to go on, every shard will be examined."

  • From a 2005 editorial in The New York Times: "Since this page endorsed Michael Bloomberg's re-election as mayor, we're obviously glad that New York City voters agreed." From a 2006 editorial in the Times: "Since the Republican majority has decided to allow President Bush to usurp Congress's role..."

  • Has the point been sufficiently belabored? If so, we conclude with a ban on its first cousin: "The reason is because ..." Three Harvard professors combined to commit this felony in a piece in The Washington Post two years ago: "The real reason Summers'comments offended is because they were made in the context of a history of discrimination ..." Aaarrgh!

    And the point is? Writers should never use "since" when their meaning is clearly "because." Even if their names are Souter and Scalia!

    James J. Kilpatrick

    James J. Kilpatrick has been reporter, editor, columnist, commentator, and briefly an adjunct professor of journalism.

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