The Grammar Factor – as and because, defined terms, titles, than I

‘because’ and ‘as’

Be careful when using ‘because’ and ‘as’ – they can be ambiguous.

With ‘as’ you need to be clear about whether you are referring to time (when) or reason (since, because).

We drove into the garage as the rain started.

This could be interpreted as:

We drove into the garage when the rain started. (time)
We drove into the garage because the rain started. (reason)

You are often better to use ‘because’ for reasons, but ‘because’ can also be slippery.

I didn’t go to the meeting because Sandra was chairing it.

This could be interpreted two ways:

Sandra chairing the meeting was the reason I didn’t go.
I went to the meeting to listen to the debate, not to see Sandra in the chair.

Prepositional because
I read an interesting article in The Atlantic that said that ‘because’, traditionally classified as a conjunction, has now also become a preposition and is used followed by a noun.

This is the last newsletter for the year. Because Christmas.

Do you use ‘because’ in this way?

Read the article at


Defined terms

Question: When writing rules and policies we have the situation where definitions are defined at the commencement of the document, usually commencing with a capital letter. When referring to a defined word within the context of a rule or policy, should we refer to the word with a capital letter to identify it as a defined word or just in lower case?

Answer: This is a style choice. Although the modern trend is to drop unnecessary capitals, I think it is still common practice for defined terms to take initial capitals throughout a document.

Capitals with titles
Question: Is there any protocol for the use of a capital letter for the commencement of a title, e.g. Clerk of the Course, Veterinary Surgeon? These usually attract a capital, but a title such as ‘steward’ or ‘official’ is often referred to within documents in lower case.

Answer: Use initial capitals for a particular person’s title and lower case for generic references. The same rule would apply to veterinary surgeons, clerk of the course, officials and stewards.

Veterinary Surgeon Jo Smith advised…
The veterinary surgeon advised…

Younger than I
Question: I was taught that when using ‘younger than I’ vs ‘younger than me’, you would use ‘younger than I’ at the end of a sentence. For example: ‘Your kids are younger than I’. I learned this is because the ‘am’ is implied. For example, ‘Your kids are younger than I am’. Is this not correct anymore?

Answer: If ‘younger than I’ comes at the end of the sentence, I agree the ‘am’ or ‘was’ is often implied.
In informal language, it is common to hear people use ‘me’ instead of ‘I’. ‘Your kids are younger than me.’


Power of three
This article is a reminder about the power of three – even in your ‘elevator’ speech.

Responding to rude emails
Next time you receive a rude email, remember the tips in this article before responding. The tips include sending no response or broadcasting the original email to your team members with a comment such as: ‘John has raised several points below you might like to comment on.’

My suggestion is to compose a draft reply without an address in the ‘To’ field and put it aside until the next day when you’ve calmed down.

Books to read over summer
If you’re looking for some holiday reading, you can read as many books as you like for a monthly fee at


‘To write simply is as difficult as to be good.’
Somerset Maugham


I hope your Christmas is instyworthy (great and picturesque).


online grammar
Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Design by mel andersonWordPress website audit by The WP Guy