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  1. peteryoung's Avatar

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    #1

    Red face this use of 'as' ..

    1. Frank is a fine athlete, as was his father before him.
    2. As his father before him, Frank is a fine athlete.


    What's the difference between the two? My guess is that they differ both in grammatical roles and semantic functions. I think in the first case the word 'as' is an conjunction, and therefore there's no significant difference in 'weight' between the two parts joined by 'as'. Thus the first sentence might be paraphrased as: Frank is a fine athelete. His father also is a fine athelete. The second sentence, on the other hand, uses 'as' as an preposition, and the prepositional phrase led by it is subordinate to the remaining part of the sentence as a whole.
    And I also suspect that the second sentence is very likely to be followed by descriptions of Frank rather than his father, while in the first sentence there's no such guarantee.
    Am I right? I doubt so, but I could not find discussions about this in grammars. And dictionaries often include these two types together under one sense of 'as' (i.e. in the same way).
    The following two are shown together in the examples for this sense of 'as' in Collins Cobuild.

    I will behave toward them as I would like to be treated.
    The book was banned in the US, as were two subsequent books.


    It really confuses me. Any help would be appreciated!

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: this use of 'as' ..

    1. Frank is a fine athlete, as was his father before him.
    2. As his father before him, Frank is a fine athlete.

    I think in the first case the word 'as' is an conjunction. . . .

    Good try, but take another look at where 'as' sits in the sentence.

    1. Frank is a fine athlete, as was his father before him.

    'as' is sitting in a subject position, which makes it a nominal in function, notably a relative pronoun - so also says my Oxford. Here's the example they give, She is an actor, as is her husband, to which I will add, an actor also is her husband. Notice the verb 'is'. If 'as' were a conjunction, that would make 'is her husband' a subjectless clause. (Conjunctions cannot function as subjects.)

    Getting back to your example sentence 1., "as" modifies the noun phrase "a fine athlete":

    Frank is a fine athlete, as was his father before him.
    Frank is a fine athlete; a fine athlete also was his father before him.

    'as' functions as the subject of 'was' and stands for 'a fine athlete'.

    The second sentence, on the other hand, uses 'as' as [a] preposition.
    In that context, "As" is synonymous with "Just like", a conjunction:

    As his father [was a fine athlete] before him, Frank is a fine athlete.
    Just like his father [was a fine athlete] before him, Frank is a fine athlete.
    Frank is a fine athlete, just like his father was [a fine athlete].

    There's your conjunction. SVSC as/just like SVSC

    Frank is a fine athlete, just like his father was a fine athlete.

    In short, my understanding is this: 1. houses a relative pronoun, whereas 2. houses a conjunction.

    1. Frank is a fine athlete, as/which was his father before him.
    2. As/just like his father before him, Frank is a fine athlete.

    And I also suspect that the second sentence is very likely to be followed by descriptions of Frank rather than his father.
    Good eye! It has to do with (a) the position and (b) function of the pronoun "his". That pronoun (a) sits in a topicalized clause and (b) refers to Frank.

    The following two are shown together in the examples for [in the same way] in Collins Cobuild.

    I will behave toward them as I would like to be treated.
    The book was banned in the US, as were two subsequent books.

    It really confuses me.
    'as' functions as a conjunction in the first example. The structure tells us that. Punctuation is also a good test:

    Conjunction
    Do as I do. (no comma; 'as' functions as a conjunction)

    Relative Pronoun
    They won, as you know. (comma; 'as' modifies 'They won'.)

    As for Collins Cobuild's second example, 'as' modifies 'banned':

    The book was banned, as were two subsequent books.
    The book was banned; banned also were two subseqent books.

    I may be right; I may be wrong. Please feel free to argue your case.

  3. peteryoung's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: this use of 'as' ..

    A million thanks, Casiopea! Your explanation is very illuminating. I understand now that 'as' serves as an conjunction in sentence 2 because what follows it should be considered as a incomplete clause rather than simply a noun phrase. However, I've also found one instance in which it is somewhat difficult for me to tell whether 'as' is used as a conjunction or relative pronoun. Webster Unabridged has an item for 'as' used as a pronoun:

    2 : a fact that : <he is a foreigner, as is evident from his accent>

    And I can understand that because 'as' is sitting in a subject position, it should be regarded as a relative pronoun. So is 'as' in They won, as you know. However, I also found in the same dictionary a sense item for 'as' as an conjunction:
    3 : according to what : in according with that which or the way in which <as he said, the stream was full of trout> <his criticisms, as I remember, were coldly received>
    And I soon noticed the similarity in form between 'as you know' in the previous examples, where 'as' functions as a relative pronoun, and 'as he said' and 'as I remeber' where, according to the dictionary, 'as' serves as a conjunction. And this begs the question: is it possible that this similarity sometimes cause confusions? For example:

    1. As I know, he is 17.
    2. He is 17, as you know
    3. He is 17, as I know.
    4. As you know, he is 17.

    5. As I remeber, he is 17.
    6. He is 17, as I remeber.

    What are the criterion for determining the grammatical function served by 'as' in these respective instances? Three factors seem to be of particular importance: 1) the verb (Is it 'know', 'remember', or 'say'?) 2) the subject (Is it 'I' or 'you' who carries out the action?) 3) the position of the sentence part started with 'as' ([i]Is it starting or concluding the whole sentence?) What's unclear to me is which factor is more important or which is not important at all.

    1. As I know, he is 17. (1)know + (2)I + (3)start
    2. He is 17, as you know (1)know + (2)you + (3)end
    3. He is 17, as I know. (1)know + (2)I + (3)end
    4. As you know, he is 17. (1)know + (2)you + (3)start

    5. As I remeber, he is 17. (1)remeber+ (2)I + (3)start
    6. He is 17, as I remeber. (1)remeber + (2)I + (3)end
    7. As I said, he is 17. (1)say + (2)I + (3)start
    8. He is 17, as you said. (1)say + (2)you + (3)end


    In particular, sentence 2, which, according to you and the dictionary, has an 'as' that should be an relative pronoun meaning 'a fact that'. But in sentence 1 the word is more likely to be a conjunction meaning 'according to what'. And sentence 1 and 2 differ in two of the three factors: the subject and the position. Which one of the two is more important here? And although sentence 2 and 8 differ in only one respect (i.e. the verb), it seems that it is just this factor that makes the word 'as' in sentence 8 seem more like an conjunction (although I'm not sure).

    I should say sorry for my curiosity. My teacher often tells me I should not spend too much time grammaticalizing everything . And.. maybe she's right. :) I don't know.

  4. peteryoung's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: this use of 'as' ..

    And this reminds me of another discussion I had with Mister Micawber concerning the sentence
    And romance novels are a big part of the global publishing industry, as was easy to see at the 25th annual Romance Writers of America conference last month.

    Is 'as' here a conjunction or pronoun? It seems both 'a fact that' and 'in accordance with what' work well.

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=14367

    Thanks!

  5. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: this use of 'as' ..

    Quote Originally Posted by peteryoung
    I've also found one instance in which it is somewhat difficult for me to tell whether 'as' is used as a conjunction or relative pronoun. Webster Unabridged has an item for 'as' used as a pronoun: 2 : a fact that : <he is a foreigner, as is evident from his accent>.
    Try replacement:

    That he is a foreigner is evident from his accent.
    He is a foreigner, which/and that is evident from his accent.
    Quote Originally Posted by peter
    However, I also found in the same dictionary a sense item for 'as' as an conjunction: 3 : according to what : in according with that which or the way in which <as he said, the stream was full of trout> <his criticisms, as I remember, were coldly received>
    Let's try replacement:

    His criticisms, which/that I remember, were coldly received.

    If 'as' functions as a relative pronoun in that context, then 'which/that' refers to criticisms: only the ones you remember, whereas if 'as' doesn't function as a relative pronoun in that context, it expresses according to what I remember (about the situation).
    What are the criterion for determining the grammatical function served by 'as' in these respective instances?
    Please see the next post.
    ==========
    And romance novels are a big part of the global publishing industry, as was easy to see at the 25th annual Romance Writers of America conference last month.
    Here's how I would work it out:

    Test #1: Where does 'as' sit in the sentence?
    Test #2: What does 'as' represent?
    Test #3: If we replace 'as' with 'which' or 'that' is the resulting sentence grammatical?

  6. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #6

    Re: this use of 'as' ..

    Quote Originally Posted by peteryoung

    What are the criterion for determining the grammatical function served by 'as'. . . ?
    A conjunction joins two like forms: clause as clause

    conj.
    1. (You) Think as I think.
    2. I slipped on the ice as I ran home.
    3. I went to bed early, as I was exhausted.
    4. He was so foolish as to lie. (infinitives have null subjects; PRO to lie.)
    5. Great as the author was [great], he proved a bad model.
    6. The hotel is comfortable as such establishments go.
    7. I don't know as I can answer your question
    A relative pronoun represent a noun or an entire clause:

    rel. pro.
    1. I received the same grade as [the grade] you did.
    2. *As you did, I received the same grade.
    3. She is an actor, as is her husband [an actor].
    4. *As is her husband, she is an actor.
    5. They won, as you know.
    Does that help?

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