Thursday, April 13, 2006

Incorrect Use of "As Such"


            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.

            Example 3

            A plaintiff must prove damages in order to recover, but Smith has not done so here.  As such, she has no claim. 

            Example 4

            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.

- Professor Judy Fischer, University of Louisville

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