Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology

  Grammar Question of the Week

Most of my readers will know that English isn't my native language. Since I used the English lessons at school to get my math or history homework done and then went home and read English books, my understanding and use of the language rely on my instincts rather than any grammar rules I vaguely remember. More often than not, those instincts seem to serve me fine, but sometimes it happens that I read something and think, "wait, shouldnt' that be X? Are my gut feelings wrong or has the editor had a very bad day?" I tend to assume it's me. :)

So, I'm going to post an ickle grammar question every week. Feel free to educate me and others who read this blog. I promise to listen and not to do my history homework instead. *grin*

This weeks question: The correct use of as and when.
No understandie question. As one might say, when picking ones toes.
If our teacher had used such real life examples, I might have listened. :)

No wonder this one sounded funny to me: The first grey stripe of dawn appeared on the eastern horizon as they arrived at the estate of Cassius Salonius. It should be when. Dang, it needed a wrong one in someone else's text to make my aware of my own mistake.

I don't think I ever use 'as' in the sense of the sentence you've given. For me, 'as' is a substitute for 'like' in forming similes or comparisons.
Well if you'd slightly reversed the order of that sentence:
"As they arrived at.....they first grey stripe of dawn had appeared on the eastern horizon." It would have sounded OK. (**notice use of past perfect "had" as it was already dawn.)

Or, you could have said "The first grey strike of dawn had appeared....when they arrived..."

(I'm always in awe of how well people like you who use English as a second language write so well in English. I've been trying to learn Greek for years and will never be fluent.)
As others have commented above, when you are using "as" as a temporal thingie (where thingie stands for conjuntion, or any -juntion deemed necessary by the linguists), I have always thought it's referring to temporal simultaneousness of events, but not to events that simply overlap in time.

Thus, the bucket full of water fell on your head when you entered through the door, but as you were crossing the door.

Obviously, I might be wrong (probably am) because I'm fairly bad with these things :-P
When I was studying English, and not simply using it as I am doing lately, my teacher never considered appropriate to teach us rules like we were robots. I think these kind of "multisemantic" words (like 'ut' in Latin) are dangerous, and should only be used when any other possibility carries additional meaning not relevant to the sentence.

A good idea, nevertheless, is to check the following web site, which is pretty good in things Grammar:

As some could say, when you are in trouble as I am, do as I say and say when you're ready as I wish I were, as you may see things differently, and that is Good, no doubt.

mmm... sounds like a children song, LOL... sorry, the day started kicking a bit at work, I needed the additional venting ;-)

Thanks for your kind words, Wynn.

I'm rather severe on those poor "had" and try to chop out as many as I can find. :) You think I need it here?


lol, this sentence As some could say, when you are in trouble as I am, do as I say and say when you're ready as I wish I were, as you may see things differently, and that is Good, no doubt. would read easier in Latin. :)

BTW Do you write your Visigoth novel and "The Libiyn" in English or Spanish?
Lybian, dangit* I shouldn't try to write while balancing a Magnum ice in the other hand.
Hehe, ice cream is good, indeed...

I'm writing them in spanish, because, despite my obvious genius and absolute control of English as a language (LOL), I can, actually, write better in spanish. And it's hard enough that way, thanks! ;-)

I wrote my NanoBits story, "Marathon", directly in English, and it shows... whether it's published or not, I'm planning on a good revision, and then in making it available for my friends and supporters to suffe---err... to enjoy, I mean.

I'd like to write them in english (because most of my inmediate auxiliary and pals are connected to the Internet through English... I can do Esperanto, but it's not the time, yet), but it's going to be tough in the languages I usually deal with in real life (not Internet)... however I'm sure you'll be able to read it in English or German when the publishers rush to my door begging for me to let them translate and publish it ;-)

ehem... *^_^* (it's thursday, I usually have my ego healthy on thursdays, so what? this is attitude, dude... yeah...)

enough ranting... Another day, or maybe later, I'll translate that sentence to latin, so we can compare >:-)

yes, this is actually a threat, bwah-ha-ha-ha...

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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)