I was reading about the meaning of "stand by".Then in an example, I encountered these:

And will they go beyond the usual GOP standbys, like tort reform and selling health insurance across state lines?

I think it should be torting.

Mohamed Sabual used to stand by silently as he (used to/had) heard classmates and other youths mocking Muslims.

I think sentence has omissions. Should the sentence be better with those in the bracket?

  • 1
    You are asking two completely unrelated things about two completely unrelated items. You will get better quality answers if you submit separate questions for each item. – JavaLatte Jul 27 '16 at 12:55
  • "tort reform" is an example of a noun adjunct - one noun used to modify another. In this case, it means "reform, relating to torts". – stangdon Jul 27 '16 at 12:56
  • The word "tort" is a noun and as such (unlike verbs) can't have the suffix "ing", a single word or the kind of a reform. – Victor B. Jul 27 '16 at 13:01

tort is a legal term meaning an action that is wrong but can be dealt with in a civil court rather than a criminal court. it is a noun, so there is no such thing as torting. Tort reform is a change to the legal system- specifically, changes to the laws about tort.

I think that you are confused about the meaning of as in this sentence: it means while, or during the time that. After used to, the meaning is probably closer to whenever. If you replace it with whenever, do you still think the sentence is incomplete?

Mohamed Sabual used to stand by silently whenever he heard classmates and other youths mocking Muslims.


Both of these are grammatical as they stand.

  1. tort reform is a phrase composed of two nouns

    • reform is the head of the phrase; it means an act or campaign directed to reforming something. This term is very frequent in political discourse, often preceded by a noun designating what is to be reformed: land reform, for instance, means reforming the terms on which agricultural land is allocated and held.

    • tort is an attributive noun modifying the head. In this case it designates what is to be reformed: the law governing torts. In current US political discourse tort reform is specifically directed to limiting the liability of manufacturers for personal injury sustained by their customers.

  2. In as he heard the preposition as has approximately the sense "when, during the time when", and in the context of a main-clause used to, designating a habitual practice repeated many times, it also implies "on each occasion, whenever".

    Mohamed Sabual made it his practice to stand by silently whenever he heard his classmates mocking Moslems.

    It thus defines the occasions when the Mohamed Sabaul stood by, and there is no need to repeat the used to.

    Your other rewrite, had heard, changes the sense: it places the mockery before the standing-by instead of during it.

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