Source: You Don't Know JS: Up & Going by Kyle Simpson (2014)


The first function expression assigned to the foo variable is called anonymous because it has no name.

The second function expression is named (bar), even as a reference to it is also assigned to the x variable. Named function expressions are generally more preferable, though anonymous function expressions are still extremely common.

is also assigned to the x variable is obviously the predicate (the verb and other stuff that goes along with it) part of the clause. But what I'm having a real hard time doing here is locating the subject of that clause. even as a reference to it is probably an adverbial construct or something of that nature that tells us how the subject is assigned (to clarify: how bad is it? it is very bad - "very" is an adverb that describes how bad whatever we're talking about is) which is missing (or appears to be missing because I most definitely can't see it).

  • Kyle Sympson seems to be a bastion of English grammar and usage. Tell him to keep up the good work.
    – Ricky
    Dec 10, 2015 at 8:22
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    IMHO, this is a normal even as. It may look odd out of context, but if you know JavaScript, it shouldn't be too hard to imagine the examples used in the book which make the sentence make sense. A reference to it is the subject of the clause.) Dec 10, 2015 at 9:12
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    Could you please explain in simpler words "an adverbial construct that describes how the subject is which is missing" - I don't get it. I agree with Damkerng that the subject of the clause is "a reference to it". Simpson's sentence seems to be written in a slightly sloppy fashion. Dec 12, 2015 at 8:43

3 Answers 3


You're trying to parse "even as a reference to it" as a coherent phrase.  It isn't. 

[ even as ]   {  [ a reference [to it] ]  |  [ is also assigned [to the x variable] ]  } 

This is a subordinate clause.  The complete subject of the clause is "a reference to it".  The complete predicate is "is also assigned to the x variable". 

The "even as" isn't directly associated with the subject.  It is associated with the entire clause.  Different analytical frameworks have proposed different labels for this kind of function; subordinating conjunction, conjunctive adverb, and simply subordinator seem to be common options. 

The "even as" introduces the fact that the following structure will be subordinate.  The structure that follows, in this case, is an entire clause.  The first available end-of-structure marker is the end of the sentence. 

If "even as" had introduced a phrase instead of an entire clause, then the end of that phrase would have been marked by a comma: 

The training manual was ineffective.  Even as a reference, it wasn't very useful. 

In effect, the "even as" takes as its argument the entire remaining string as marked by the first delimiter.  For the example sentence, that string represents an obvious subject/predicate pairing. 

  • That is one great explanation. Dec 12, 2015 at 20:10
  • As for the comma, sadly it is often the case nowadays that some textbook authors along with news article writers for some reason will choose not to follow the strict punctuation rules of English grammar (possibly a lack of proper language education being the main culprit) which many times makes you so wary of their writing style that quite frankly you can't rely anymore on the particular choices of grammar or punctuation they employ. Dec 12, 2015 at 20:36

Even as &c is an adverbial phrase modifying is. The second function expression is named (bar), and only a reference to it (the second function expression) is assigned to x.

"even as" = "at the same time that" in most cases, including this one.

  • I would be greatful if you could make it clearer. I don't get the meaning of "It's an adverbial phrase to is". Do you say that "even as a reference to it is also assigned to the x variable" is an adverbial to the verb is? Dec 12, 2015 at 8:15
  • I have taken the liberty of modifying your first sentence to clarify @CopperKettle's uncertainty. Dec 12, 2015 at 13:42
  • Could you explain what the subject of the clause is? I don't see that in your answer, but that's what the question is primarily about, I think.
    – user230
    Dec 12, 2015 at 16:28

From knowing JavaScript, the sentence means

A reference to the function expression named bar is assigned to the variable x.

So I conclude that "even as" is an intensifier/points out the simultaneity and performs the grammatical role of a conjunction. You could replace it with "and" to get a sentence with the same basic meaning

The second function expression is named (bar), and a reference to it is also assigned to the x variable

By inspection, the subject is "a refference".

It just feels awkward because the "X, even as Y" construction is far less common than "X, and Y".

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