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If "as" can be omitted in "verb + object + as + object complement", does "as" remain optional in creating relative clauses?

my sentences:
(1a) They appointed Tom a manager.
(1b) They appointed Tom as a manager.
I know both sentences are correct.

my sentences:
(2a) Tom they appointed a manager was a clever guy.
(2b) Tom they appointed as a manager was a clever guy.
Are they both correct?
If not, then why not?

my sentences:
(3a) The manager they appointed Tom is a very important position in their company.
(3b) The manager they appointed Tom as is a very important position in their company.
Are they both correct?
If not, then why not?


oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com:
(4a) He was not the self-absorbed, withdrawn person he was sometimes portrayed as.
my variant:
(4b) He was not the self-absorbed, withdrawn person he was sometimes portrayed.
Is (4b) correct?
If not, then why not?

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  • 2
    "Tom, who[m] they appointed as manager, was a clever guy". A group usually only has one manager, so 'a manager' sounds odd. The phrase between the commas explains who Tom is. Feb 26 at 9:41
  • In British English I would use the "as" in all cases, not sure if USA is different. 2a/2b need to start with "The". 3a/3b is wrong because "the manager" seems to refer to a person who does that job rather than the job role itself, but "is a very important position in their company" seems to refer to the job role itself.
    – Anentropic
    Feb 26 at 14:38
  • 3
    1b "They appointed Tom a manager" sounds almost like they hired someone else to be Tom's manager.
    – Anentropic
    Feb 26 at 14:40
  • 3a) "The manager they appointed Tom is a very important position in their company." sounds like they appointed a manger to Tom, and that manager's position is very important in the company. "The manager, they appointed Tom, is a very important position in their company." With the commas, try reading the sentence without the subjunctive clause, still makes sense, the clause indicates that Tom was appointed to be the manager which is an important position.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 26 at 18:14
  • I would sooner read 1a) as "They appointed [for] Tom a manager" than "They appointed Tom [as] a manager." That is, "Tom" is the indirect object, not a direct object.
    – chepner
    Feb 26 at 19:01

3 Answers 3

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2a/b are not correct, unless the choice of manager was restricted to people named "Tom" (and they chose the clever Tom).

3/ab are "convoluted". I can't find any actual errors, but they seem unlikely to be used. You probably need to use "appoint Tom to a management position", because only the position exists in advance. You can't talk about the manager that Tom becomes as existing before Tom gets appointed. It seems that the decision to make Tom a manager is a given, and they only chose which manager; that's odd. If you need to say this then something like "The management position to which Tom was appointed" better describes what actually happened. Or rephrase completely.

Generally, I prefer using "as". So I prefer "appoint Tom as manager" to "appoint Tom manager" and the word "as" is required with "portray" so "He was portrayed as self-absorbed" and not "portrayed self-absorbed"

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    Truth be told, I find versions 1a) and 1b) to be both weird. It sounds as if someone was appointed as Tom's manager. They [his family?] appointed Tom a manager to handle the contracts, and the business side If Tom was an actor, a popular/gifted singer or writer 1a) would make sense. If Tom was in charge of a department shouldn't 1b say: "Tom was appointed manager” without the indefinite article?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 26 at 15:22
  • OR "Tom was appointed as a/the manger of marketing”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 26 at 15:27
  • Re 2a/b, if they were appointing from a pool with multiple Toms, I'd say "The Tom they appointed [as] manager...." It wouldn't need to be a pool exclusively made up of Toms, but the implication is that some disambiguation is needed. E.g. if the interlocutor seemed confused between multiple Toms, then it would be natural to use the definite article with the proper name. [US English if it matters here.] Feb 26 at 19:42
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2a/b are at best confusing. "Tom they appointed as a manager was a clever guy." What is Tom's role in this sentence? Tom is not the subject -- the subject is "they". I guess the intent is that Tom is the object of the verb appointed, but normally in English we put the object after the verb, not at the beginning of the sentence, before the subject. You say, "They appointed Tom", not "Tom they appointed". (Except in poetry or song lyrics where you "get creative" with the word order to achieve a certain rhyme or rhythm.)

3a/b are also somewhere between awkward and incorrect. "The manager they appointed Tom as ..." "The manager" would be understood to refer to a person, not a job title. You could say, "The management position to which Tom was appointed ..." But Tom wasn't appointed to be some other person, he was presumably appointed to a job.

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  • I mean, it's still a bad/awkward sentence but Tom is clearly the subject of 2a & 2b. The main verb is was, not appointed.
    – lly
    Feb 26 at 23:27
  • 1
    @lly You're right, I concede. It occurs to me that the shortest route to a grammatically correct sentence would be to turn "they appointed" into a subordinate clause: "Tom, whom they appointed as a manger, was a clever guy." Maybe that was the original intent.
    – Jay
    Feb 27 at 1:52
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An important note: not all situations can drop the "as" as shown in 1a. When we drop it this way, titles or roles are often involved. It's a lot like dropping the article when "I'm the captain of this ship" becomes "I'm captain of this ship."

But, for instance, "I would describe him as tall" absolutely can't drop the "as." The "as" isn't helping with roles or titles here, but is part of the phrasal verb "describe as." Same with, say, "I would recommend him as competent." It's this kind of use that interferes with 4b. In short, it's really only one specialized usage, one of titles and roles, that lets you drop the "as"; I can't think of any situation where you can except for that one usage ("They appointed Tom as manager").

Now, to nitpick:

(1a) They appointed Tom a manager. (1b) They appointed Tom as a manager.

Sure, both are valid, though including the "as" and omitting the article seems even more common for this title/role usage: "They appointed Tom as manager."

(2a) Tom they appointed a manager was a clever guy.

The main problem with this isn't about "as"; it's that it glues a modifying phrase onto "Tom" in a nonstandard way. Tom is "a person whom they appointed [as] a manager." But what if he's also tall? We don't say "Tom tall was a clever guy." We could set this descriptive phrase off with a few more words and some commas, though:

Tom, whom they appointed a manager, was a clever guy.

This is a grammatically valid sentence. I'm starting to get uncomfortable without that "as," though. There's potential here to mistake the meaning and think that they appointed someone else to manage Tom. I would make it

Tom, whom they appointed as a manager, was a clever guy.

Finally,

(3a) The manager they appointed Tom is a very important position in their company.

This has a similar grammatical problem, and the same potential for misunderstanding. If we set off Tom with commas, "... they appointed, Tom, is a..." then it's valid. The meaning gets a bit odd, though. You've correctly noticed that the subject here is not "Tom" but "manager." But you've changed the rest of the sentence to match; instead of talking about a person you're talking about a position. Nothing wrong with that, but if that's our intent, we don't want to add "Tom" as an identifier, because he's not a position but a person.

We could construct the meaning that's intended by this sentence with something like:

The managerial position that they appointed Tom to is an important one in the company.

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  • Or, for the last one, "The manager they appointed, Tom, has a very important position in their company.
    – Peter
    Feb 26 at 23:17

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