Don't Misuse "As Such"


The phrase as such is sometimes misused as an all-purpose (but grammatically incorrect) transitional phrase. Such is a pronoun that must have an identifiable antecedent. If it doesn't have one, its use is incorrect.

Example 1 (correct):

She is the board president. As such, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.

Explanation: Here, the antecedent of such is president. It can replace such: She is the board president. As president, she is responsible for scheduling the meetings.

Example 2 (incorrect):

Congress intended to provide an exhaustive list of examples, and it did not mention websites. As such, the statute does not cover websites.

Explanation: Such has no antecedent here; it cannot be replaced with list or any other word in the first sentence. The writer of example 2 incorrectly used as such as a generic transitional phrase. The word therefore would be a better choice.

The following examples illustrate the above points.

Example 3

A plaintiff must prove damages in order to recover, but Smith has not done so here. As such, she has no claim.

Example 4

This is a question of law. As such, it is subject to de novo review.

Explanation: Example 3 is incorrect, because such has no antecedent. Replace as such with therefore. But in Example 4, question of law can replace such, so the sentence is grammatically correct.

Advice: If you are in doubt about whether as such is correct, you may want to choose other phrasing. The transitional terms therefore, thus, and as a result are often suitable replacements for an incorrect as such.


                                   --The Word Aficionado