APA Fact of the Week: While and Since


Posted August 5, 2016

Words that can have multiple meanings, such as while and since, sometimes cause reader confusion.  Because precision and clarity are standards in academic writing, the APA suggests that you restrict use of while and since to their temporal meanings only (APA 6, 3.22).

Examples:

  • While: Use while to link events occurring simultaneously; otherwise, use although, and, or but.
    • Correct: Every dog dreams of catching its tail while running in circles.
    • Correct: Although every dog dreams of catching its tail, Fido never tried.
    • Incorrect: While every dog dreams of catching its tail, Fido never tried.
    • Correct: The argument was well founded, but Lisa’s mom still refused to get her a pony.
    • Incorrect: While the argument was well founded, Lisa’s mom still refused to get her a pony.
  • Since: Using since to only mean “after that” will reduce confusion with readers; otherwise, replace it with because.
    • Correct: Geoffrey has wanted to rule his own kingdom since he was a young boy.
    • Correct: Geoffrey believed that he should be allowed to rule his own kingdom because he was 15 years old.
    • Incorrect: Geoffrey believed that he should be allowed to rule his own kingdom since he was 15 years old.

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