Big Trouble with a Little Word

Using as in a causal sense—similarly to because, since, and for—is more often than not a misuse, a misguided attempt to elevate tone to a faux-academic level, and a good way to confuse the reader. As has so many other, more common uses (“It’s hot as hell outside today!”), and causal words like because are always clearer alternatives. There is rarely, if ever, a good reason to use as in the causal sense—unless you’re trying to use artificially inflated language to impress your reader. … Wait a minute. That’s a terrible reason.

Here are some sentences I’ve come across recently that I think misuse as. Every use would be clearer with because or since:

  • Profits and losses from selling stocks must be reported to the IRS as they affect your net income. [Note the potential confusion: this could easily be read as “… must be reported while they affect …”]
  • A lack of reports does not guarantee the business’s legitimacy, as unscrupulous owners may merely move or change names.
  • A corporate communications office will devote a great deal of time to handle a company’s marketing as it can directly affect a businesses financial success.
  • If you plan to do this, talk to a tax professional, as a CPA can give you a clearer picture as to when it will be most advantageous to reduce your taxable income.
  • If you own a sole proprietorship, you’ll have a much tougher time obtaining a car loan, as the bankruptcy will show up on your credit report.
  • Some bungees can be hooked to the metal top of the wheel wells at the back of the truck, but this generally isn’t recommended as it’s not terribly secure.
  • However, it’s difficult to cut more panels in the fiberglass resin cover itself, as the more you cut into it the more a chance it has to break or crack.
  • Some corrosion is normal, as it is impossible to prevent exposure of the terminals completely.
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Comments
4 Responses to “Big Trouble with a Little Word”
  1. Pat says:

    Craig, how do you feel about dropping the “as” from some of those and, instead of adding “because,” switching the commas to semi-colons?

    EX: A lack of reports does not guarantee the business’s legitimacy, as unscrupulous owners may merely move or change names.

    A lack of reports does not guarantee the business’s legitimacy; unscrupulous owners may merely move or change names.

  2. BartE says:

    In cases where “as” could be confused with “while,” point very much taken. Seems to me in other examples, “since” and “because” may be clearer, but this is a misdemeanor, not a felony. That is–the meaning is clear enough, and the inflation, well, I’ve seen worse.

  3. livermoron says:

    I love semicolons; they make sentences so fun to write.

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