Preposition Review #1: Chance of vs. Chance for

By Maeve Maddox

The noun chance comes from Latin cadentia: falling. Chance is how events “fall out.”

The word chance has several meanings in English. This post is concerned with chance followed by the prepositions of and for:

chance noun: opportunity

chance noun: possibility or probability

When the meaning of chance is opportunity, the preposition that follows is for:

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.—Oprah Winfrey 

Last Chance for Public’s Input on 42nd St. Corridor Project

Entrepreneurs see a chance for profit in niche crowd-funding websites

The theme of this year’s MES/MOM conference is “Cloudy with a Chance for Profits.”

When the meaning of chance is possibility or probability, the preposition that follows is of:

Egypt Says 90% Chance of Hidden Rooms in King Tut’s Tomb

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an American children’s book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett.

Los Angeles warned to brace itself for a ‘big one’: Nasa says there is a 99.9% chance of a 5.0 earthquake in the next three years

Weekly weather forecast: Cold, some chance of snow

In the following examples, the preposition that follows the word chance depends upon whether the intended meaning is probability, possibility, or opportunity:

Your chance of success will be higher if you’re born here (probability)

Investing in children increases their chance for success (opportunity).

Feldman: There’s no chance of restoring Egyptian democracy (possibility)

Note: Chance meaning opportunity may be also be followed by an infinitive. For example, “Turkey’s president sees the Paris climate summit as a chance to mend ties with Russia. In this case, the to is not a preposition, but part of the infinitive.

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3 Responses to “Preposition Review #1: Chance of vs. Chance for”

  • venqax

    Seems a very neat and clear distinction. It’s always irritated me when the weatherman keeps saying we have a “chance for rain”, as if it something we need to strive to achieve.

  • thebluebird11

    I don’t know if this is an ESL issue or what…doesn’t seem to me to be a problem knowing which to use.
    I will offer up the construction using the gerund (I hope I’m correct using that term…I can talk with good grammar but can’t talk good about grammar LOL). “What are the chances of us going to the movie later?” Is this a colloquialism that is not a correct construction?

  • venqax

    That seems like a perfectly standard construction. “What is the probability of us going to the movies?”

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