What Part of Speech Is as?

A word doesn’t necessarily belong to a particular part of speech. Depending on how it is used in a sentence, it can belong to more than one.

In this post, we’ll analyze the word as grammatically, looking at the three parts of speech it belongs to: preposition, conjunction, and adverb. We’ll also look at few parts of speech it doesn’t belong to, but few erroneously think it does. And all this with plenty of examples.

Is as a preposition?

Yes.

That’s one of the two main functions of as, the other being subordinating conjunction. In all the examples as a preposition, note that as is followed by a noun (which includes noun phrase and noun clause) or pronoun, which together are called prepositional phrase.

As a preposition, as can be used in following ways:

(Comments that go with examples are in square brackets.)

1. It is used to refer to the role of a person or thing. Examples:

Apple appointed Steve Jobs as its CEO in 1997. [Comment: As is followed by the noun phrase its CEO, forming the prepositional phrase as its CEO.]

As a captain of the team, he has responsibilities other than playing.

As a child, I loved flying kites.

2. It is used to refer to how someone of something is viewed or thought of. Examples:

High price is often seen as high quality.

The virus was initially taken as non-threatening.

Don’t view lack or promotion as failure; take it as something you can learn from.

3. It is used in expressions like as a result and as a consequence. Examples:

As a result of unusual weather patterns in recent years, governments and people are taking the issue of climate change seriously.

As a consequence of adhering to multiple Covid-appropriate protocols, people are feeling mentally fatigued.

Is as a conjunction?

Yes.

Conjunction is the second main function of as. It is used as a subordinating conjunction introducing adverb clauses. Remember, a clause contains a subject and a verb of its own.

1. It is used in the sense of ‘because’ to show reason for something. Examples:

As I was ill, I didn’t attend school. [As introduces the clause as I was ill.]

I got up at 4 AM as I had an early flight to take. [As introduces the clause as I had an early flight to take.]

You should drop out of today’s event as you aren’t prepared.

2. It is used in the sense of ‘while’ or ‘at that time’ to show that something happens while another thing is in progress. Examples:

We ran towards the train as it was leaving.

As the movie drew to a close, people started trickling out from the cinema hall.

As more bad news about the pandemic filtered in, stock markets around the world crashed.

3. It is used in the sense of ‘like’ or ‘in the way that’. Examples:

As I had expected, the team lost by a big margin.

The letter p is silent, as it is in pneumonia.

His latest movie bombed at the box office, as did the last two.

4. It is used in the sense of ‘although’ to express contrasting actions. Examples:

Boring as the lecture was, he had to look attentive. [Although the lecture was boring, he had to look attentive.]

Unbeatable as he was through the year, he lost the title match meekly.

Straightforward as it seems, the problem is complex.

Is as an adverb?

Yes.

As is mainly used as a conjunction and a preposition, but it can also be used as an adverb. As an adverb, it is used in comparisons to show adverbial information of degree. If you recall, adverbs do two things in a sentence: first, they provide background information such as on time, place, manner, degree, reason, and more; second, they comment on the entire sentence.

Alternatively, you can look at adverbs as modifiers of verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In the examples below, as modifies adjectives and adverbs.

I can type as fast as anyone else around here. [As modifies the adjective fast.]

You’ve to walk as carefully as a mountaineer on Everest. [As modifies the adverb carefully.]

He is tall, but I’m just as tall. [As modifies the adjective tall.]

Is as a verb?

No.

Although rarely, some raise question about as being a verb. It’s not without reason though.

First, few prepositions such as out, off, down, up, near, like, and except function as verb as well, driving few to think that other prepositions might also function as verb.

Second, few prepositions are participle form of verbs, making few think that some prepositions are indeed verbs. Examples of such prepositions: barring, concerning, including, considering, notwithstanding, pending, regarding, respecting, excluding, following, according to, owing to, failing, and given.

Third, as is inextricably linked with few verbs to form what is called phrasal verbs. Examples: go so far as, mark down as, pass as, and save as.

But prepositions are not even remotely verbs.

We can walk. We can jog. We can run. We can sprint.

But can we as?

As doesn’t do any action. Hence, it’s not a verb.

Another test you can run is to check if as has past, past participle, and present participle forms like verbs do.

Can we’ve the words assed or assing, assuming it to be a regular verb?

No. Hence, it’s not a verb.

Few also confuse as with linking verb probably because of its role in linking (or joining) two parts of a sentence as a preposition and its shortness (just two letters) that is similar to the most common linking verb be. But as is not a linking verb. As we saw earlier, as acts as a preposition in linking two parts of a sentence.

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