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(1) The teacher's attribution for a child's behavior is obtained AS filtering the child's behavior.

(2) The teacher's attribution for a child's behavior is obtained BY filtering the child's behavior.

Which of the two is correct, as (clause: "the teacher is" omitted) or by? Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.

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The word at this position in the sentence must be a preposition, because it is followed by a gerund phrase which functions like a noun. These are the relevant prepositional meanings from the Cambridge Dictionary:

as: used to describe the purpose or quality of someone or something
He used the broken bottle as a weapon

by (METHOD): used to show how something is done
Tea is made by pouring boiling water onto tea leaves

This sentence is intended to describe how the attributions are obtained, not their purpose. by is therefore the only valid option.

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As... implies a comparison with something, and there isn't one, so you need 'by'.

By... denotes that something occurs as a result of something else.

Try swapping the clauses around, that usually shows up errors or the right way to put it.

Example of rearranging the clauses:

'As filtering the child's behaviour, the teacher's attribution is obtained...' doesn't work because one is left asking 'as... what?' What is going on at the same time... answer: nothing.

'By filtering the child's behaviour, the teacher's attribution is obtained...' makes sense because we see how the second clause depends on the first. How does the teacher's attribution get obtained? It gets obtained by filtering the child's behaviour.

'As' could work if you put 'as a result of' - which then has the same meaning as 'by', for example:*

'The teacher's attribution for a child's behaviour is obtained as a result of filtering the child's behaviour.'

By: 'Identifies the agent that is responsible for doing something':

Examples By:

  • X is done by y
  • Omelettes are made by chefs
  • By adding up numbers we can do sums
  • I get results by doing something
  • By doing something, I get results

'By' is like firing an arrow into a target.

Wheareas 'as' is better thought of as running along, alongside a galloping horse - two things are going on or going along together, or being contrasted, or branching off in two directions, often being compared, thus:

Examples As:

  • milk as well as eggs go into an omelette
  • his omelette was as hard as a rhino hide
  • he got the same results as her
  • she looked up as he entered the room

If you leave out "the teacher's" then it reads:

'Attribution for a child's behaviour is obtained BY filtering the child's behaviour'

By is the fulcrum on which the two clauses are levered.

A is dependent on B - and B on A.

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  • Have a look at this definition of as dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/as . You will see that it has several different meanings, depending on its role in the sentence. as as a comparison is an adverb, and as to link two things that happen at the same time is a as a conjunction. In this sentence, as is a preposition, so the meaning would be "used to describe the purpose or quality of someone or something". – JavaLatte Feb 16 '18 at 13:45
  • I'm aware of various meanings of as, however I don't see how any of them apply or could work in this sentence. I explained only the aspect of 'as' that I felt was relevant to this sentence, in comparison to what I feel is an appropriate use of 'by'. – Jelila Feb 16 '18 at 13:50
  • If it was 'as filters to', it could potentially work, but I don't think that is what the writer is trying to say. Filtering is an activity not a thing. – Jelila Feb 16 '18 at 13:53
  • I agree with your conclusion, but your explanation is a bit random.It doesn't refer to the right definition of by, and it refers to the conjunction and adverb meanings of as, not the preposition meaning. – JavaLatte Feb 16 '18 at 14:02
  • How is my definition of 'by' - 'denotes something that occurs as a result of something else' different from the definition you have given in your answer 'used to show how something is done'? In the sentence given in the question, I don't believe 'as' can be used to convey what the writer wants to convey. I have explained how 'as' can be used, when comparing, to illustrate how it differs from 'by'. As I already said, you can only use 'by' in this sentence. – Jelila Feb 16 '18 at 14:15

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