The History of for example and for instance as Markers of Exemplification, Selection and Argumentation (1600-1999)

  • Paula Rodríguez-Abruñeiras Institut Interuniversitari de Llengües Modernes Aplicades (IULMA) / Universitat de València


This article analyses the use of the example markers for example and for instance in exemplifying, selective and argumentative constructions. Of these three uses, exemplification—twofold sequences with a first general unit or hyperonym and a second more specific item or hyponym—has received recurrent attention in the literature, whereas selection—constructions where the first element is omitted—and argumentation—the use of example markers to connect whole chunks of discourse—have long been ignored. The present study, using data from ARCHER 3.2, shows that the three uses have coexisted since at least the second half of the seventeenth century and that argumentation prevails in both British and American English. Moreover, example markers are very productive in certain genres, such as science, sermons and advertising. Additionally, even though the primary function of example markers is to introduce their scope domain, they have developed different pragmatic values that bring them closer to the category of discourse markers. Thus, for example, their use as mitigators makes them an optimal tool for smoothing interaction and hence reducing the risk of offending our interlocutor.

Author Biography

Paula Rodríguez-Abruñeiras, Institut Interuniversitari de Llengües Modernes Aplicades (IULMA) / Universitat de València
Paula Rodríguez-Abruñeiras is Senior Lecturer of English at the Universitat de València. Both her teaching and her research revolve around the history of English, with a particular interest in corpus linguistics, the new varieties of English and gender studies.


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