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In three separate studies, researchers compared children who had slept with night-lights in their rooms as infants to children who had not.

I can understand the sentence if there is no bold part. (In three separate studies, researchers compared children who had slept with night-lights in their rooms to children who had not). However, because of the bold part, I cannot understand the whole sentence. Could anyone explain what as infants in this sentence means?

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Although my primary language is not English but French, I understand that the meaning of "as infants" is "when [they were] infants", rather than "as infants do".

The context validates this interpretation: it would bring no objective information to state, in the context of a scientific study, that the children who did sleep with night-lights were doing "as infants do". That would also mean that we consider as a common truth that all infants invariably sleep with night-lights.

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Why do you extract the bold part and want to try to understand it apart from the context?

The sentence reads as follow:

  • In three separate studies, researchers compared [children who had slept with night-lights in their rooms as infants] to [children who had not].

Researchers compared one category of children [who had slept with night-lights in their rooms as infants] to another category of children [who had not]

Let's look at the first category a bit closer:

  • Children who had slept with night-lights in their rooms as infants -here "as" means "in the role of" and is similar to "like". The bold apart means "as infants do". (Cambridge grammar)
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  • Isn't there any possibility that "as" is used as meaning of "from" in this context? So the full sentence means "children who used night lights since they were infants"?
    – user198952
    Oct 11 '17 at 6:37
  • @user198952 Definitely not. The children weren't infants. They were in the role of infants who sleep with the night-lights in their rooms. Oct 11 '17 at 7:54

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