As I said before, you must leave.
You are happy as we all know.

Do as I say
He did not need to keep moving house, as his father had.

He is a foreigner, as is evident from his accent.

I checked the webster and longman. They says that "as" is used as relative pronouns in the first two sentences, which means "a fact/a thing that", while as conjunctions in the last two, which means "in the same way that".

I am confused by the meaning in these sentences. In my opinion, the third one can also be considered as pronoun, because it can be translated this way,

Do the thing which I told you to do.

And the second sentence can also be considered like this,

You are happy in the way we all know.

The other two sentences can also be misunderstood to me. So what's wrong with my understanding.

  • Traditional grammar analyses the "as" in your examples as a conjunction. Some modern grammars see it as a preposition. But it's certainly not a pronoun!
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 18:13
  • 1
    @BillJ Unfortunately Websters has as as a pronoun in such as and the like, and summons Milton's "tears such as angels weep" in support without pointing out the indispensability of the such. Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 22:49
  • @BillJ I added a sentence from the dictionary. I think in the fifth sentence, it is used as a relative pronoun, which can be safely replace by "which". What do you think about this case ?
    – Hua
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 13:24
  • No, it's not a relative pronoun. All relative pronouns begin with wh-. I take "as" in your examples to be a preposition, though traditional grammar analyses it as a conjunction when used with clauses. I think you are confusing semantics and syntax.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


You are not quite correct in your assessment, in the third sentence

Do as I say

means to

do something as I have told you to do it

not "do what I do", there is a very famous saying

Do as I say, not as I do.

which means the person is not doing something how they really want you to do it.

"Do as I say" is also different than

Do what I say

and the difference can be subtle. If you are told to

Be quite as a mouse!

Do what I say is "be quiet".
Do as I say is "be very, very quiet" since mice are very, very quiet.

You are happy as we all know.

only means

we all know you are happy

but we don't necessarily know how you are happy, further context would be necessary.

Your other two examples are simpler

As I said before, you must leave.
Like I told you before, you must leave.

He did not need to keep moving house, as his father had.
He did not need to keep moving house, like his father did.

  • Great thanks for this detailed answer. Yes, actually I intended to interpret the first sentence as "Do what I say" but I mistyped it. Luckily you thought of this. But as for the first sentence, you think it is used as "conjunction" as the fourth one, as I ? But the webster dictionary says it is a pronoun ... I guess you are a bit lost too :-)
    – Hua
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 17:06
  • Correct to the comment: I intended to interpret the third sentence as "Do what I say".
    – Hua
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 17:13
  • @Hua I'm not commenting from the part of speech, but from the meaning.
    – Peter
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 17:41
  • 1
    @Hua The dictionary does not say that "as" is a pronoun. "As" is not considered a relative pronoun except when preceded by same or such. That is what the Websters entry explains. You have misunderstood it. A good thread on exactly this common misunderstanding is here. Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 22:58
  • @P.E.Dant Thanks for referring me to that thread. It's interesting that that PO also comes from China:-) I see why we have the same confusion. Anyway, in the second item, third section of the webster page, it shows that it can be used as "as is evident" without "same/such" proceeding it. It is this sentence that confuses me. Again thanks for your comment
    – Hua
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 4:44

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