The thief stole my cloak as I was asleep in the waiting room.

Which is the better option to change voice of the above given sentence from the below given two options :

A) My cloak was stolen as I was asleep in the waiting room.


B) As I was asleep in the waiting room, my cloak was stolen.

I had four options with me out of which I managed to rule out two options but I am confused between these two options, my book has A as answer but my question is why A why not B ? Is there any difference in meaning ? Why A is better ?

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    I don't think your "book" is a reliable guide to idiomatic English. Google Books has just one written instance of stolen as I was asleep, and that's from a guide to English published by a German company. But there are an estimated 63 written instances of stolen while I was asleep. I've no idea what aspect of English your book is trying to teach you (difference between as = while and as = because?), but it's a terrible example. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 12 '17 at 14:31
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no rule in English syntax which marks A) as preferable to B), and I know of no such rule in any canon of style. You will have to read your book more closely to see whether it offers any applicable "rule". If it does, you may ask here whether the "rule" is valid; but as the question stands it basically asks us to read the author's mind, and I think that makes it unanswerable. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 12 '17 at 14:40
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    @StoneyB I don't understand why you think the question should be closed. As far as I can tell, it seems to be a valid question where the answer is "there is no apparent reason to favour either". Finding out whether/why their book is right/wrong is surely still on-topic? That said, specifying the source and any further context would probably be helpful... – SteveES Jun 12 '17 at 16:30
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    @FumbleFingers: as is fine to my (AmE) ear. Compare Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, or the British traditional folksong "One night as I lay in my bed". as I slept is plenty well attested. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 12 '17 at 18:16
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    @FumbleFingers: I don't think anything has been proved with the Google search. Do you honestly think a Google Books search as specific as stolen as I was asleep is going to tell you much? IMO, as (temporal) and was asleep are in different registers. So you would find/hear as I slept and as I was sleeping but not as I was asleep. And so there may be some common ground here, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that as is poetic or dated or stylised, as you have done. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 14 '17 at 14:12

I don't agree with your textbook. Both A and B are equally grammatical and mean the same thing.

If I had to force a difference (only bother with this if you are interested since it's of such limited value), I'd say that A is about your cloak that was stolen and B is about what happened while you were asleep. This difference is really only present in the spoken language and the actual word order is not as relevant as the direction of the conversation. In written English, sentences like B are more common than in spoken English and the distinction (however little it had in the first place) is no longer present.

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  • one reason why we might avoid using as is because it can be ambiguous. Was the cloak stolen because you were asleep, or while you were asleep? This question is a good illustration: ell.stackexchange.com/q/31625/9161 – ColleenV Jun 12 '17 at 17:04

Most fluent speakers would use "while" rather than "as". With that change, either version is equally good and valid: "My cloak was stolen while I was asleep", or "While I was asleep, my cloak was stolen."

"As" can also mean "because". For example, "As you were here first, you can choose whatever seat you want." Because of this, (b) creates the possible ambiguity that the writer may mean, "While I was asleep ..." or "Because I was asleep ...". That's the only reason I can think of to prefer (a).

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