Thursday, April 13, 2006
Increasingly, the phrase as such is misused as an all-purpose (but grammatically incorrect) transitional phrase. Such is a pronoun that must have an identifiable antecedent, but in today’s usage it often has none.
Example 1 (correct):
She is the committee chair. As such, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.
Explanation: Here, the antecedent of such is chair. It can replace such: She is the committee chair. As chair, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.
Example 2 (incorrect):
Congress intended to provide an exhaustive list of examples, and it did not mention websites. As such, the statute does not cover websites.
Explanation: Such has no antecedent here; it cannot be replaced with list or any other word in the first sentence. The writer of example 2 incorrectly used as such as a generic transitional phrase. “Therefore” would be a better choice.
The following examples illustrate that as such is grammatically correct only where such has a nearby antecedent.
A plaintiff must prove damages in order to recover, but Smith has not done so here. As such, she has no claim.
This is a question of law. As such, it is subject to de novo review.
Explanation: Example 3 is incorrect, because such has no antecedent. But in Example 4, “question of law” can replace such, so the sentence is grammatically correct.
Advice: If a writer is in doubt about whether as such is correct, it may be best not to use the phrase at all. The general transitions therefore, thus, or as a result are often suitable replacements.