As to ‘as to’

I like to think I’m pretty well acquainted with language irritations (yes, I’m refusing to use the word ‘bugbear’). But yesterday, two people picked me up on one I’d never considered: as to.

I’d written a guide to using ellipses and asked for feedback from my colleagues. Both questioned the as to in the following sentence.

In the following three cases, first consider whether you really need an ellipsis. Often, when the omission is at the start or end of a sentence, you can simply quote the remaining part without causing any confusion as to the meaning. However, sometimes an ellipsis is necessary for clarity.

It had never occurred to me, so I thought I’d ask Twitter. It turns out that objection is pretty widespread: as to was variously described as ‘faux formalism’, ‘pompous’ and ‘horrid’ – the kind of language that would be ‘written by a man in a bow tie’ and would ‘make one sound like a copper’. Well. That’s me told.

So, while I make no promises as to swearing off as to altogether, I’ll certainly be thinking before I write it again.

Here’s the Twitter conversation, if you’re interested. I’d also be curious to hear what others make of @catordog2’s claim that my use of any could change the meaning of the sentence. I’ll own up to it being superfluous (though I have chosen to retain it as I think it makes for a gentler tone, which is what I am going for here), but don’t see how it can change the meaning.

And, in case you’re wondering, I changed my as to to over.

Edit: in a classic case of oh-dear-it’s-already-been-written-and-better, I’d like to recommend Stan Carey’s post on as to. It’s far more sensible and comprehensive. šŸ™‚

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