39 ‘For example’: Inside a Sentence

'For example': Inside a Sentence

Carol Lynn Moder

We have described the most common uses in academic writing of For example and such as. If you master these uses and choose only to use them as we have described so far, you will not be likely to make errors. However, there is a second common use of for example, which you will encounter and which you may want to understand more fully. This use is shown in 6.

 

6. Some attention needs to be devoted to the intricacies of our language. Students are in need of assistance dealing with the following: homograph and homonym. The former are words that are spelled the same, for example, Bow of the ship and Bow and arrow. The latter are words with a different spelling that possess the same sound, such as, to, too and two; plane and plain.[1]

 

The use in 6, is very similar to the use of such as that we saw earlier. In fact, as we see here, the writer uses for example to introduce the examples for the first noun phrase and such as to introduce the second. So inside a sentence for example can be used in place of such as, BUT such as CANNOT be used everywhere you can use for example.

 

Such as is very restricted in its use, but for example can be used in more varied contexts. As we saw earlier, For example can be used at the beginning of a sentence but such as CANNOT. Inside a sentence, such as MUST immediately follow the noun or noun phrase that it specifies, but for example can occur in other places inside the sentence.

 

Let’s look at some uses of for example inside a sentence, where such as CANNOT be used.

 

7. The data analysis revealed several student ideas for situating writing course activity within digital contexts. A few interviewees, for example, discussed the possibility of having a course Facebook page, where students could interact with one another and the teacher to ask questions about homework.[2]

 

In 7, for example follows a noun, but it does not introduce examples that specify that noun. We could NOT use such as in this context. The whole sentence in which for example occurs, is provided as an example of what the sentence before describes. In 7, the first sentence states that the analysis revealed several student ideas for course activities. The entire following sentence gives an example of those student ideas. So, the context for using for example inside the sentence use, is the same as the context that we saw in examples 3 and 4 when For example occurred at the beginning of the sentence.

 

For example does not have to follow a noun or noun phrase, though.

Look closely at examples 8-12. What kind of phrase occurs before for example? What occurs after for example? What do you note about the punctuation and capitalization?

 

8. Many refugee children and youth do not have any print literacy skills. Take, for example, Jaabriil, a student we met through our study. He was born in a refugee camp in Yemen, yet he identifies with the language, culture, and ethnicity of his family’s Somali roots. Jaabriil came to Canada when he was 12 years old. Although he spent two years in elementary school — grades 7 and 8 — when we met him in the English literacy development (ELD) program in his first year of high school he had limited knowledge of Roman alphabet letter[3]

 

9. By bringing students’ nonacademic digital literacies into writing education, teachers can facilitate students’ critical thinking about the technologies they use. When Facebook is used in class activities, for example, teachers can prompt students to discuss the construction of Facebook itself; a discussion of Facebook data collection can lead students to become more aware of how the site provides information to advertisers.[4]

 

10. The assessment techniques should be aligned not only with the course outcomes, but also with the performance that learners/workers will be expected to achieve as a result of the new learning. If the course is on programming, for example, it only makes sense that learners demonstrate their learning through a final submission of a computer program project.[5]

 

11. In many states, a much larger percentage of students obtain the highest label of proficiency. In Utah, for example, 53% of examinees of the state-mandated language arts tests had “substantial” proficiency.[6]

 

12. The students generally reported understanding very little about loans before borrowing for the first time, but described the actual process of applying for a loan as fairly painless. Emily, for example, estimated the entire loan application process took her only 30 minutes.[7]

Phrase Before Phrase After
for example,
for example,
for example,
for example,
for example,

As we see from these examples, for example can occur after verbs (take), prepositional phrases (in Utah), nouns or noun phrases (Emily, a few interviewees) or dependent clauses (When Facebook is used in class activities, If the course is on programming). Note that in all cases, it is inserted into what is otherwise a complete sentence.

How do we decide where to place for example in a sentence? To answer this question, we need to consider the larger context of the writing and what the writer wishes to highlight.

Look back at examples 7-12 and consider:

  • What information occurs in the sentence before?
  • What information does the for example sentence give us in relation to the first sentence?
  • What part of the for example sentence is the focus of the example?

When For example occurs at the beginning of the sentence, the entire following sentence illustrates the point being made in the first sentence. In 3, repeated here, the author is presenting findings showing that parents use treat to reward good behavior. The full following sentence is an example of this, specifying how one parent, Nora, used specific treats, pudding cups, fruit roll-ups or ice cream, to reward good behavior. Thus, the whole second sentence serves as the example of the concept in the previous sentence.

 

3. In most cases, treats are used as a reward for children’s good behavior. For example, Nora in San Antonio would buy her daughters pudding cups, fruit roll-ups, or ice cream for good behavior.

 

Compare that to 11. Here the first sentence introduces facts about student proficiency that are true in many states. The following sentence, gives us a sample of this by highlighting the specific percentage from only one state, Utah. The writer makes the information about states the focus of this section, so for example is put after the phrase In Utah.

 

11. In many states, a much larger percentage of students obtain the highest label of proficiency. In Utah, for example, 53% of examinees of the state-mandated language arts tests had “substantial” proficiency.[8]

 

Similarly, in 13 we again find for example after a prepositional phrase. This time the example is one of a set of items that the writers mentioned before. The authors’ point in this section is that many texts that are part of curriculum have vocabulary and other features that are too difficult for the students. They introduce the names of three difficult works and then they use details about one of them to illustrate their point. For example is placed after the name of the title selected for the example.

 

13. In a typical junior high class, students are expected to read such works as Homer’s The Odyssey, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Many aspects of these wonderful and important texts might prove difficult for readers including vocabulary, themes and text structure. In To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, readers need to read and know the meanings of such words as assuaged, foray, impudent and taciturn.[9]

 

 

For example can also be used to highlight one of a series of examples in a section of writing. We see this in 10. Here the focus of the section is on assessment techniques and the main point is that these techniques need to match what the work learners will be able to do. Two specific illustrations are used, the first is for a course on programming. The second is for mobile learning applications. Here dependent clauses that begin with If specify examples of courses in which worker performances could be assessed. The writer uses for example after the first if clause to highlight that this is one of a series of conditions that illustrate the point in the prior sentence.

10. The assessment techniques should be aligned not only with the course outcomes, but also with the performance that learners/workers will be expected to achieve as a result of the new learning. If the course is on programming, for example, it only makes sense that learners demonstrate their learning through a final submission of a computer program project. Similarly, if the mobile learning application offers video modules on the features of medical equipment, the learner should be able to share those features in a presentation format.

As we have seen in these examples, the location of for example depends on what the writer has written in the previous sentences and what the writer wants to do with the example. For example is most commonly placed at the beginning of the sentence. If for example is placed inside the sentence, it is generally placed immediately AFTER a phrase that highlights the writer’s focus.


  1. Miller, Harry, 2014. Reading where it counts.  Reading Improvement, 51(1), 27-31.
  2. Amicucci, Ann N. 2014. How They Really Talk. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(6), 483-491.
  3. Montero, M. Kristiina; Newmaster, Sharon; Ledger, Stephanie .2015. Exploring Early Reading Instructional Strategies to Advance the Print Literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(1), 59-69.
  4. Ibid
  5. Linder-VanBerschot, Jennifer A.; Summers, Laura L. 2015. Designing Instruction in the Face of Technology Transience. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16 (2), 107-118.
  6. Rambo-Hernandez, Karen E.; Warne, Russell T. 2015. Measuring the Outliers: An Introduction to Out-of-Level Testing With High-Achieving Students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 47(4), 199-207
  7. McKinney, Lyle; Mukherjee, Moumita; Wade, Jerrel; Shefman, Pamelyn; Breed, Rachel. 2015. Community College Students’ Assessments of the Costs and Benefits of Borrowing to Finance Higher Education. Community College Review, 43(4), 329-354.
  8. Nelson, Kristin L.; Alexander, Melina; Williams, Natalie A.; Sudweeks, Richard R. 2014. Determining Adolescent struggling readers' word attack skills with the core phonics Survey. Reading Improvement, 51(4), 333-340.
  9. Nelson, Kristin, L., Alexander, Melina, Williams, Natalie A., & Sudweeks, Richard. 2014. Determining adolescent struggling readers’ word attack skills with the core phonic survey. Reading Improvement,51(4), 333-340.

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'For example': Inside a Sentence by Carol Lynn Moder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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