3

More difficulty with "as":

1 laws as they existed in the 1900s
2 laws as they relate to public schools

According to standard English, the two sentences mean respectively:

3 laws in the form they existed in in the 1900s
4 laws in the way they relate to public schools

Sentence 3 makes sense, because it means "laws of a certain type". But, I couldn't quite make the same connection with sentence 4. Laws are not action, so using "in the way" with laws seem strange.

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  • I just posted an answer to another question about as an hour ago. I quoted a few sub-entries from a grammar book. Though it's a different question, you might find it useful. Jun 24 '14 at 7:24
  • noun + as + [the comparison or justification] when used in such structure generally means the context of...[whatever is said later]. Consider... laws, as they happened to be in the context of public school.
    – Maulik V
    Jun 24 '14 at 10:42
  • I also posted another recent answer to a question about “as”. It’s not exactly about your question, but the principle explained there explains the phrases you’re asking about. It might provide another useful angle (varying familiar phrases rather than following rules).
    – Ben Kovitz
    Feb 11 '15 at 17:57
1

The action in the sentence isn't the law itself, but the law's relation:

Laws in the way they relate to public schools.

Hopefully that makes sense.

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The difference is that in the second example that you mention, "as" has more that meaning:

as (conj.): In accordance with which or with the way in which

Another example would be:

The hotel is quite comfortable as such establishments go. The sun is hot, as everyone knows.

For other possible meanings you can check this link.

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The second sentence-fragment

laws as they relate to public schools

means:

...laws that either directly regulate public schools or whose provisions have an indirect effect upon public schools.

"as" here means "to the extent that" or "insofar as".

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