2

Sometimes I stumble upon sentences like "As a native English speaker the most natural way to say..." (https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/201348) or "It [the expression] sounds more natural, as a native English speaker" (https://ell.stackexchange.com/a/75465; nothing personal, just as an example). They always feel ungrammatical, although I understand that the word "speaking" is probably implied before the "as". (But then, well, does a truly ungrammatical sentence exist?) Moreover, they are often ambiguous: do they mean "I'm a native speaker" (as in "As a mom, it's exhausting") or rather "to sound like a native speaker, do this"?

What do such sentences usually mean? Don't they sound (perhaps intentionally) funny to native speakers?


By the way, I'm now searching for similar phrases in BNC and see this: "As a child, I can remember it ever so well, doing it, mm". Here, it's clear that the speaker is not a child but rather remembers doing it as a child, so such cases are different.

  • I've read this three times & I have not the faintest idea what you're asking, sorry. – Tetsujin Jul 5 '18 at 19:20
  • @Tetsujin I'm asking just whether the title of the question sounds OK. – Kirill Bulygin Jul 5 '18 at 19:26
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    I think Kirill is saying that as a native speaker seems to "dangle". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 5 '18 at 19:35
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Yeah, grammatically dangle. – Kirill Bulygin Jul 5 '18 at 19:36
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    Most unlikely indeed. The speaker is making a (meta) statement about themselves. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 5 '18 at 19:50
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To prefix a statement about oneself with 'as' in the way you describe is to claim the expertise or status of what follows:

As a gardener, I'm telling you that roses won't grow well in chalky soil.

As a resident of Manchester, let me tell you it rains a lot there.

As a non-smoker, I find the smell of cigarettes unpleasant.

Such sentences may suggest a level of pomposity, but in general they are not automatically funny or amusing.

July 13th 2018: Donald Trump is visiting Britain, and protesters have launched a 20 ft tall "Trump Baby" blimp in London. The Guardian reports a visitor saying to one of the organisers: “As an American it means so much to us that you have done this. Thank you so much.”

Guardian blimp story and pictures

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    Ah. I see. Such expressions as 'As a gardener, roses won't grow well in chalky soil' are possibly a lttle clumsy sounding (especially to a non-native speaker) and decidedly informal, but not to the extent that people using them would be held up to ridicule in most informal and relaxed settings. – Michael Harvey Jul 5 '18 at 19:39
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    It's important not to confuse formality with correctness. These modifiers appear in formal English quite frequently and aren't simply a result of informal English ignoring the rules. – snailcar Jul 5 '18 at 20:44
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    Technically, something like "As a gardener, roses won't grow in chalky soil" is incorrect, because it uses a dangling modifier, and is (taken literally) saying that roses are a gardener. Informally, it's perfectly understandable, but I wouldn't use it in formal writing. – stangdon Jul 5 '18 at 20:54
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    'As a gardener, roses won't grow well in chalky soil' sounds a little clumsy on its own, at least to me. But if I think of it as being elided, that is: Speaking as a gardener, let me say: roses won't grow well in chalky soil. – that seems fine. – J.R. Jul 5 '18 at 20:59
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    @stangdon Thanks for the link. So the conclusion seems to be the following. Such sentences mean what they say with dangling modifiers fixed. They are incorrect but quite acceptable in informal English (e.g., as opposed to Russian, where they are generally ridiculed even in the spoken language). I'm accepting the answer now since it provoked such a helpful discussion. – Kirill Bulygin Jul 6 '18 at 9:10

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