margin of/for error

lapot

Senior Member
Hello. I've got a doubt about this common sentence. I've always heard "margin of error", but the last time I heard this sentence, it was "margin for error".
Well, then I searched in google and I found it was more common than I ever thought.
So, please, is there any difference between them? Both are correct?
I don't give any context because my question is in general.

Cheers!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Without looking at the Google results (which could easily prove me wrong) I would think that the difference is that 'margin of error' is a simple noun phrase, where 'of error' tells you what kind of margin it is:

    The margin of error is 5%.
    We were surprised at the margin of error.
    Such a large margin of error is unacceptable.

    But 'margin for error' is two separate parts, and would be somewhat unlikely to appear in the above sentences. I personally would use it in existential sentences ('there is . . .') where 'for error' explains the purpose/reason of the margin, and can be replaced by similar phrases:

    There is a very large margin for error.
    There is a very large margin by which we can go wrong.
    There is a very large margin for getting it wrong.

    Go on, Google, do your worst.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Did you look at the examples of each phrase that you found in your search? Margin of error is used (almost exclusively as a term in statistics) to express the uncertainty in the estimate of a value.

    Margin for error is usually used to describe the range of uncertainty or options available in planning a future action - in which errors might occur (or some parameters are misjudged/miscalculated). You try to account for the possible errors and include them in the plan. This inclusion is the "margin for error". For example, you think your car will be able to go 500 km on the fuel in the tank, based on the fuel gauge and road and weather conditions, and your destination is 490 km away. Your margin for error is 10 km.
     

    lapot

    Senior Member
    First of all, thanks!!
    Well, the last time I heard that was something like.."the margin for error was zero day for the delivery of the project"
    I read "margin of error" was a statistical term but I didn't figure it almost exclusively refers to that.
    I got it now!

    Regards!
     
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