A Chance of Showers
Thanks to a two-week run of rain in my part of the country, a local announcer’s repeated prediction of showers has finally driven me to write a post on his use of what to my ears is unidiomatic usage: “a chance for” in the context of weather.
The established weather idiom is “a chance of,” as in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Wondering if it was just the local man’s quirk, I did a Google search and found the unidiomatic use of “chance for” on weather sites in other parts of the country:
Sun with a Chance for Showers (WFMZ-TV Eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey)
Mostly Cloudy with a Chance for Scattered Showers (WBNS Columbus OH)
Cooler with a Chance for Showers (KRCR Redding/Chico CA)
A Google search indicates that the use of “chance for” is much less common when the anticipated weather is snow or plain rain.
It’s difficult to discuss preposition use because so often the “correct” usage is idiomatic.
Although the “chance for” weather usage is most frequent on the airwaves, I did a search on the print-based Ngram Viewer to get a sense of general usage. The combination “chance for showers” is not found at all. “Chance for rain” does produce a result, very close to nil; the usage rises slightly in the late 1980s.
An Ngram search for “chance of” and “chance for” shows a distinct preference for of as the preposition to follow chance and chances.
The bottom line is that of is the most usual preposition used with the noun chance in most contexts. Here are some examples:
LeBron asks: What are the chances of making 10 free throws in a row?
A Statistician’s View: What Are Your Chances of Winning the Powerball Lottery?
What are the chances of 366 strangers all having a different birthday?
What is the chance of an asteroid hitting Earth and how do astronomers calculate it?
When the preposition for follows chance, the suggestion seems to be that a positive outcome is regarded as desirable:
“The Chance for Peace” (Title of an address by D.W.Eisenhower)
A chance for Mississippi to get out of the educational basement
Persian Leopards: Large Cats with a Small Chance for Survival
What Are the Chances for IVF Success?
Rain, snow, showers, and thunderstorms may or may not be desirable, but so far, the standard preposition to use when anticipating their chances is of: Muggy with a Chance of Rain.
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