Is 'as' a relative pronoun?

LQZ

Senior Member
Mandarin
Dear all,

I was taught in school that as could be read as a relative pronoun used to introduce a relative clause. Also many results returned on a dominant search Engine -Baidu- tell the same that may be deeply rooted in many Chinese learners' minds. For examples,

1 As we all know, the earth is not flat.
2 He did as I said.
3 He passed the exam as expected.
4 He is as tall as his father.
(All these examples are created by me.;))

However, today I did a search on Google finding out "as" is excluded from common relative pronouns on some trusty learning-English Web sites. And some dictionaries also support as(s) of this kind are conjunctions, not pronouns.

Now, to remove my confusion, could you please tell me whether you think of "as" as a relative pronoun? Thanks.


LQZ

Edit: Seems dictionaries have contrary views. The Webster dictionary gives as for a conjunction while Dictionary.com for a pronoun. :(
 
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  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Dictionary.com is explicit on the point, LQZ:

    13. (used relatively) that; who; which (usually prec. by such or the same ): I have the same trouble as you had.

    M-W agrees:

    3 as
    pronoun
    1
    : that, who, which —used after same or such <in the same building as my brother> <tears such as angels weep — John Milton> and chiefly dial. after a substantive not modified by same or such <that kind of fruit as maids call medlars — Shakespeare>

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

    I can see no effective difference between

    I have the same trouble as you had, and
    I have the same trouble that you had, so I think I'd agree with these dictionaries that as can be, in certain circumstances, a relative pronoun. Whether those circumstances occur in all your examples, LQZ, however, is another matter. I'd be happy with 2., but not with the others, at first glance.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Dictionary.com is explicit on the point, LQZ:

    13. (used relatively) that; who; which (usually prec. by such or the same ): I have the same trouble as you had.

    M-W agrees:

    3 as
    pronoun
    1
    : that, who, which —used after same or such <in the same building as my brother> <tears such as angels weep — John Milton> and chiefly dial. after a substantive not modified by same or such <that kind of fruit as maids call medlars — Shakespeare>

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

    I can see no effective difference between

    I have the same trouble as you had, and
    I have the same trouble that you had, so I think I'd agree with these dictionaries that as can be, in certain circumstances, a relative pronoun. Whether those circumstances occur in all your examples, LQZ, however, is another matter. I'd be happy with 2., but not with the others, at first glance.

    Thank you, TT. :)
    I was going to repy quickly but my access to the Internet went wrong. :(

    TT, just know I carefully read your post and definiitions of as from the Free Dictionary, and then I think I almost get it. But I have one more question.

    In other words, as I understand it, this form is appropriate for conditions which aren't going to be met: the weather isn't going to improve, the other person isn't going to learn to pick up his stuff.

    I ran into the above by you in another thread. Can I think of this as as a conjunction that means in accordance with which or with the way in which? Thanks again.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]
    I ran into the above by you in another thread. Can I think of this as as a conjunction that means in accordance with which or with the way in which? Thanks again.
    Remember that I'm not a grammarian, LQZ.

    as I understand it

    I think as in that sentence of mine meant in the way that, or in the way in which.

    Neither of these examples is covered by M-W in its section on as the pronoun (it says it can follow such or the same, or mean the fact that).

    I think what we have there is Dictionary.com's adverbial use no 4:

    4. in the manner (directed, agreed, promised, etc.): She sang as promised. He left as agreed.

    So I think it's an adverb (as understood by me, to produce a parallel form to that in the dictionary), but don't forget my initial caveat.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'As' in its various uses is difficult to classify, and I believe there are no clinching arguments much of the time. But note that possible modifiers are different from those available to relative markers:

    He did just as I said.
    He passed the exam just as (we) expected.
    (Though this is available for fused-head relatives: He did just what I expected.)

    And the range of complements is different from the distribution of relative clauses:

    I had the same trouble as you.
    :cross:I had the same trouble that you.

    In particular, 'as' can take comparative clauses, which don't contain all the material that other clauses do (relative or content). This reduced kind of clause is licensed by a pair of degree markers such as 'more ... than', 'as ... as', 'the same ... as'. So in general it's not equivalent to the kinds of words that take full content clauses or relative clauses, though in some constructions it may be equivalent.
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you, TT and entangledbank, for having your time.

    I will keep an eye on as until I manipulate it. )
     
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