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the definition of "wont" as a noun from britannica.com:
wont - (old-fashioned) a usual habit or way of behaving:
He enjoyed a drink after work, as is his wont ( = as he usually or often does).

(1a) He enjoyed a drink after work, as is his wont.
Could you tell me please:
how the as-clause is made;
why "as is his wont" means "as he usually/often does";
why there is "is" in the as-clause;
why this "is" is grammatical?

What will be if we replace "is" with "did" or "does"?:
(1b) He enjoyed a drink after work, as does his wont.
(1c) He enjoyed a drink after work, as did his wont.


my sentences:
(2a) His grandfather enjoyed a drink after work, as does he now. - I know it's correct
(2b) His grandfather enjoyed a drink after work, as is he now. - I know it's incorrect

Proceeding from (2b), (1a) must be incorrect too. Why is it not so?

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  • 2
    His wont means his Habitual or customary usage, custom, habit (OED). It's a peculiar word hardly used except in that rather facetious ...as is his wont context (...as is his habit). Don't use wont anywhere else - stick to habit, custom. Note that none of your examples apart from 1a are idiomatic. Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 20:18
  • Why do you think it might be grammatical without the "is"? His wont is X; he did X in the way that his wont is.
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 14:39

2 Answers 2

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James K has explained the word wont, but not the syntax.

More normal syntax would be as his wont is. But after as used this way, to mean "and also", the verb/auxiliary can come before the subject, and in this particular phrase as is his wont is much more common than as his wont is.

Similarly,

as his father does or as does his father.

as the rest of them did or as did the rest of them.

as her brothers can or as can her brothers.

I don't think this is a case of inversion (like you are ready vs are you ready?), because it allows only BE and bare auxiliaries (by which I mean auxiliaries without an expressed main verb).

Eg

as the examples will show cannot be altered to *as will show the examples

as the regulations require cannot be altered to either *as require the regulations or *as do the regulations require.

But if the main verb is omitted from the as clause, leaving only an auxiliary, that is fine: politeness requires your attendance, as do the regulations.

This construction (which I think is really a form of extraposition rather than inversion) is only used when as means and also, not when it means in the same way as.

So to go back to my first example, as his father does usually means in the way that his father does (whatever), whereas as does his father can only mean and his father does (whatever) as well.

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"as", a conjunction can introduce a subordinate clause meaning "in the same way".

"Wont" is now no longer used in English, except in this idiom. It is a fossil word.

But if you understand "wont" to mean "habit or way of behaving", then it should be clear that "It is his way of behaving" is correct English but "#It does his way of behaving" is nonsense.

So a correct sentence or two is:

Grandfather enjoyed a drink after work yesterday; he usually does enjoy a drink after work.

This has the the emphatic "does enjoy" form. What does he enjoy? it is explicit: He enjoys a drink after work.

Grandfather enjoyed a drink after work yesterday, as is his habit.

What is his habit? Obviously it is "enjoying a drink after work".

But " as does his habit" would be wrong and "as does his wont" would equally be wrong.

His "wont" is enjoying a drink. You could not say "His wont does enjoy a drink".

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