"As" instead of "because"

I turned in an essay when it was due, and I recently got it back with a lower grade than I expected. One sentence I wrote in my essay was “many people died of influenza because there was no penicillin in 1918”. With a red pen, my teacher marked through the word “because” and wrote “as” above it, and deducted two points for it. After class, I asked my teacher why she did that, and she told me that the English language is changing, and that the word “because” is being phased out in favor of the word “as”. What do you think about this?

“Many people died of influenza because there was no penicillin in 1918”
“Many people died of influenza as there was no penicillin in 1918”

Which of the above were you taught was correct?

If I were you, I’d have laughed at her face.

Hi Tara,

It seems quite harsh to me that two points were deducted for the use of one word. I agree with your teacher that English is changing as do all living languages but to suggest that ‘because’ is being phased out is news to me. ‘As’ of course is used in many ways with different functions but ‘because’ in the sense of ‘the reason for’ is alive and kicking and I would suggest that it in fact fits better into your sentence. ‘As’ in a causative sense could also be used in your sentence but I feel it doesn’t have quite the same force. Perhaps you should ask your teacher to explain where this notion that ‘because’ is being ‘phased out’ comes from.


“Since” and “for” would fit nicely there, too, in my opinion. Let’s hear what the native speakers have to say about it. :slight_smile:

I´m an english teacher. Born in New York and living in Spain right now. I teach both British and American English. I should say that even if it is changing, both expressions are correct. Also on my personal opinion, “because” is the world that better fits in that sentence. It´s not correct to deduct two points from your work if the use of the word “because” or “as” are used correctly in the sentence. What you can do is to ask her to give you those 2 points because you are using the word expression correctly. If that doesn´t happen, then you can go to the person above her. When something is not right, it´s not right to keep our heads down and accept when we know for sure that we were correct.

As I said, both forms are correct. She´s just using her point of view.

Good luck.

Herbert Correa

Also this is the correct form with both:

“Many people died of influenza because there was no penicillin in 1918”
“As there was no penicillin in 1918, many people died of influenza.”

Hello Malakay,

I think your advice might come a little late for the original poster now. Did you notice the date those posts were made?

thanks. And, no, I dind´t noticve that date. Sorry I´m late, but it will help in the future if somebody ask the same question.

Hi Alan,
i hope you are safe and sound…

1-I’d like to ask if there is still a difference between saying (I used to smoke alot…and I was used to smoking alot)…the meaning is my concern.

2-we can say: I have not met Jack for two weeks…
I last met Jack two weeks ago.
The last time i met jack was two weeks ago.

I did not meet Jack two weeks ago… I have doubts about the last one to give the same meaning or to be grammatically correct.
Thanks a lot

I used to smoke a lot: (a lot is two words, never one!)

  • there was a time in my life when I smoked heavily (smoked lots of cigarettes or similar).

I was used to smoking a lot:

  • I smoked heavily and I (my body) was used to me doing so.

As you can see, there is a difference in meaning.

I have not met Jack for two weeks. / I last met Jack two weeks ago. / The last time I met Jack was two weeks ago.
These three sentences all mean the same thing.
‘I did not meet Jack two weeks ago.’ has a completely different meaning from the above three sentences:
I did not see Jack two weeks ago, I might have seen him before then, I might have seen him since then, I might not have seen him at all.

Hi Ali,

I think you need to understand the meaning of ‘I used to do something’ and ‘I was used to doing something’. If you refer them to the habit of smoking, only ‘used to smoke’ really works in your example. It suggests that smoking was something you did on a regular basis but now you don’t as in: When I was younger, I used to smoke a lot but now I am older I don’t smoke at all.

‘Used to doing something’ suggests that you are/were accustomed to a certain action as in: I am used to hearing aeroplanes flying overhead because I live near an airport. This can also be used in the past: I was used to hearing planes flying overhead when I lived near an airport.

From these examples I hope that you can see that your example: I was used to smoking a lot doesn’t really work because am/was used to + ing form doesn’t really refer to a habit but refers more to something to which you are/were accustomed to.