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I came across this sentence and unable to figure out this structure as has is playing

Such a self-sacrificing man as has come wins our sympathy and admiration.

Can anyone explain this structure and part of speech in this sentence is playing?

2 Answers 2

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I will offer an alternative analysis, since I fear my comments have confused the OP. To be sure, this is a somewhat unusual construction. Let's first start with semantics, that is, the meaning of the sentence. I repeat the rephrasing of the previous answer:

[1] A self-sacrificing man such as the one who has come wins our sympathy and admiration.

I hope we all agree that this is the correct interpretation. Now let's examine the grammatical structure of the sentence, in particular the noun phrase that is subject of the sentence.

Let's start with the head of the noun phrase, namely man. Adding the definite article a and the modifying present participle self-sacrificing should cause no confusion:

[2a] A self-sacrificing man wins our sympathy and admiration.

We could add a prepositional phrase to modify this man:

[2b] A self-sacrificing man like him wins our sympathy and admiration.

Here the preposition is like and its object is the preposition him. English allows the object of a preposition to be a clause as well as a noun phrase, so I can say

[2c] A self-sacrificing man like he appears to be wins our sympathy and admiration.

This clause, as usual, has its own subject (he) and finite verb (appears).

Let's substitute the synonymous such as for the word like:

[2b-1] A self-sacrificing man such as him wins our sympathy and admiration.
[2c-2] A self-sacrificing man such as he appears to be wins our sympathy and admiration.

We can now get close to the original:

[2c-3] A self-sacrificing man such as has come wins our sympathy and admiration.

Notice that this clause object of the preposition such as has no explicit subject. All such clauses in standard English must have subjects, but in certain circumstances these may be missing as long as they are recoverable from the sense and syntax of the clause. Imperative clauses (i.e., commands) follow this rule. When I say

[3a] Come here!

the implied subject is the [unwritten] second person pronoun:

[3b] [You] come here!

In the same way, the subject of the clause with verb has come is understood to be the self-sacrificing man.

We're almost there because we need one more change to get to the original sentence, and that's to split the complex preposition, placing words between the first part of the preposition (such) and the second part (as) to get

[4] Such a self-sacrificing man as has come wins our sympathy and admiration.

This is unusual, to be sure, but so as acts the same way:

[5] I feel so great a love as has ever been known

(Be aware that there's no single agreed-upon English grammar. I've relied on the Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts, and hasten to add that any mistakes in the above explanation are sure to be mine and not the author's. Older grammars insist that like can't take a clause as its object, any such clause requiring the preceding word as, which is classified as a subordinating conjunction.)

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Here, "as" is being used as an adverb. It has the same function as in these examples:

  • It has the same function as in these examples
  • I've never tasted ice-cream as good as this
  • I've never met such a self-sacrificing man as him

The adverb "as" is used in comparisons to refer to the extent or degree of something.

In your example, evidently "a man has come" and he is self-sacrificing. It is essentially the same as saying:

A self-sacrificing man such as the one who has come wins our sympathy and admiration.

Instead though, they have included the detail that he "has come" to indicate who they are speaking about.

It isn't simply saying "This self-sacrificing man has won our sympathy and admiration" - it is using "such as" to compare the man with other possible self-sacrificing men and saying that anyone who is like this man is equally deserving of sympathy and admiration.

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  • i am still baffled cuz has coming after as doesn't makes sense , please explain little bit Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:19
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    I'm skeptical of this analysis, mostly because if as is an adverb, I'm not sure what verb or adjective it would be modifying. I think modern grammarians would classify such...as as a complex transitive preposition taking the finite clause "has come" as its object. Sure, it's odd that the preposition is split into pre- and post-positions and that the subject of the object clause is missing and has to be recovered (from "self-sacrificing man").
    – user105719
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:31
  • @user105719 the verb is "has come". The OP has rather confused that by asking what "as has" means, when that isn't a coupling. "As" is acting on the verb "has come".
    – Astralbee
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:40
  • "Such a man as [the one that] has come." Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:46
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    @Astralbee Still skeptical As... would act on the verb "has come" in a sentence like "For Halloween, Joe has come as a clown." Adverbial of manner. Here "as has come" tells us about the man, (i.e., he's the one who has arrived), not the manner of his arrival. The OP is confused about "as has" as a syntactical unit, but in this I'm entirely sympathetic.
    – user105719
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:58

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