For then

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wizzerad, May 4, 2013.

  1. wizzerad Junior Member

    Oulu, Finland
    Good day everybody.
    It is several times that I run into the expression "For then, ..." at the beginning of a clause or sentence. I have not found on line a good explanation for its meaning, nor in this forum. To me, in the examples I found, it sounds an expression with its own meaning, rather than the sum of the meanings of "for" + "then".
    I encounter the expression "for then" mainly in formal text.

    Merriam-Webster's Dic: word "mystery": a metaphor should not be farfetched, for then it becomes an enigma.
    Mark Twain's quote: In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
    Barnes' note on the Bible: The reason here assigned cannot be understood to be merely that of priority of existence - for then it would give every old person authority over a younger one.

    From the examples above, my guess as non-native speaker is the following:
    for then = in that case, if it were so

    Please correct me if I am wrong. This (guessed) meaning is similar, yet not equal, to the meaning of "then" in clauses like:
    "If you destroy the car, your mother will then have to go to work on foot."
    Willing to insert "For then.." in the above sentence, I would reformulate:
    "Destroy your car. For then, your mother will have to go to work on foot."

    Am I missing something? I would also suggest to insert the entry in the (fantastic) word-reference dictionary, which I consult every single day.
    Many thanks in advance,

  2. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In the examples you cite, "for" = because. It's a rather old-fashioned use.

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