Submitted by monkey on June 9, 2009

As of

I am wondering how to use the phrase ‘as of’ correctly. I learnt from my daily email communications with native English speakers that the phrase could mean “from”, “on/at” or “by the end of”. However, the last sense was not found in Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam Webster’s online edition.

That made me quite puzzled. Examples may speak louder than theories.

“As of yesterday, we had finished three tasks.”

Is this usage correct and does it mean the same thing as “by the end of yesterday, we had finished three tasks”?

Thanks.

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Wow, this has ballooned into several issues. First, your question, does "as of yesterday..." mean the same thing as "by the end of yesterday..."? Well, yes and no. I don't think that the words "as of" specifically mean "by the end of"; however, simple logic dictates that if something happens on a particular day, then it must happen by the end of that day. Something that happened yesterday can't have happened after the end of yesterday, can it? Otherwise, it would have happened today, not yesterday, right? So in your case, "by the end of..." really means the same thing.

Next, Dyske's comment about "had finished" compared to, I suppose, just "finished". I don't think it's an issue about durations vs. moments of time. Rather, it's an issue of the type of past tense. "Finished" is the simple past tense; "had finished" is the simple past perfect tense. The simple past perfect tense is used to describe something that happens before something else. The example sentence would make sense using "had" if it looked something like this: "As of yesterday, we had finished three tasks, then Bill quit”, meaning both things happened as of yesterday, but Bill quit some time after we finished the three tasks. I don't know that it's wrong, per se, but using "had" without specifying a second event does leave the reader to wonder, hmmm, what else happened afterwards (but before now) that you're not telling me?

Also note, sometimes "as of" is equivalent to "on", but not in this case. For example, "On Monday, we completed three tasks" means all three tasks were done on Monday. But, "as of Monday, we completed three tasks" only means that they were done on or before Monday. I suppose one could make a case that at least one task would have to be done on Monday, but not all three (I purposely didn't use "yesterday" because "on yesterday" is not commonly said, but I think I illustrated the same point).

You mentioned "on/at", but "as of" can also mean "starting on" or "ending on" and is sometimes the equivalent of "by".

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According to Webster's Dictionary, "as of" is a preposition "used to indicate a time or date at which something begins or ends"; "takes effect as of July 1" is the example given.

Matt, I am not sure I have ever heard "as at" used in the manner you describe.

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I don't think it's incorrect, but it sounds awkward to me because "as of" usually implies that you sampled a moment of time to see a status of something. In other words, I interpret "as of" as "a particular point in time." For instance:

"As of March 14th, 2009, my stock portfolio was worth $123,456."

It's measuring or sampling something at a particular point in time. The reason why "As of yesterday, we had finished three tasks" sounds awkward to me is because "had finished" implies a duration of time, not a moment in time.

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I don't think this usage sounds awkward. It would be used when someone was in the middle of a project (for example) and wanted to give an update on a portion of it being completed.

"The group has 12 tasks to complete by Friday. As of Wednesday, we had completed three tasks. We will need to get four tasks done per day to finish the project."

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Learnt is a UK variant of learned, see e.g.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=...

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I believe that "as of" means "from this day on" while "on this date" is expressed by "as at". I might be wrong about this as I am not a native speaker .

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@BJ - and other BrE speaking countries, it would seem. A quick google search brought up:

'Compliance Program - current areas of focus as at 11 July 2012' - Australian government
'Pricing as at April 2012' - Standard Bank, South Africa
'Work plan - projected targets as at 1 October 2012' - International Financial Reporting Standards organisation

And I agree with you about the difference, at least as far as BrE is concerned.

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On another note...I don't believe "learnt" is an English word. Should it not be "I learned from my daily ....."?

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I have another example that doesn't seem to fit the explanations above. "This e-mail is to serve as notice that as of July 1,2009 so and so will no longer be residing at 1773 Hawaii Dr. E.". I read it as the person will be out before the date stated not at the end of the date stated.

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Matt wrote: "I believe that "as of" means "from this day on" while "on this date" is expressed by "as at". I might be wrong about this as I am not a native speaker ."

dms726 wrote: "Matt, I am not sure I have ever heard "as at" used in the manner you describe."

Perhaps it's a British thing, but we distinguish between "as of" and "as at" in the way that Matt describes. Former is start of something that is on-going; latter is a snapshot in time. "I'm quitting as of Friday". "Exchange rate is 1:1.2, as at 25th July".

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Don't wish to be anal, but I would say that BJ's example "I'm quitting as of Friday" was a bit off point.

I'm quitting on Friday
or
As of Friday I will no longer be working for 'XYZ Ltd'

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@jo - Google brings up plenty of examples "quitting as of", and there are a couple of hundred in Google Books (i.e. proofread, edited material). Enough to suggest, perhaps, that this could in fact be idiomatic.

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@ Warsaw Will - point noted, but I would argue that:

a) I wouldn't be surprised if many of those entries were AmE as opposed to BrE (or Brits under the AmE influence ;-))

b) proofread/edited material isn't always a guarantee of correct English (I've seen terrible printed material that has presumably been edited/proofed)

c) If indeed this is an idiomatic usage, it doesn't make it the 'norm', and therefore the use of this example in the context above could mislead/confuses English learners

But that's just my two-penneth worth.

Legal writing guru Bryan Garner et al strongly recommend not using 'as of' to describe a 'snapshot' of a situation. I'd be interested if any British grammar gurus have else to say.

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@Jo - Ah, "correct English", that's a topic and a half, and I bet that you and I come at that from completely different angles. For me what is important is whether something sounds natural, not what some language guru or maven says. Garner often talks a lot of good sense but, I think, tends to concentrate on relatively formal written English, not spoken idiomatic English, which was what BJ originally gave us an example of.

To be honest, I pretty much distrust the whole idea of language gurus/mavens. But I do have a couple of usage manuals, both of which contradict your position. MWDEU, which unfortunately we can no longer link to, has a couple of examples -

"... So Breech ended the contract, as of June 30" - (Time Magazine 21 July 1947)
"I have revised the figures as of the end of 1967" - Center Magazine 1969

The editors of MWDEU go on to say - "This use of 'as of' need never be avoided; it constitutes the bulk of our printed evidence for the phrase."

And Burchfield, in the New Modern Fowler, says: phrases of this type, first recorded in the work of Mark Twain, are now well established in standard English in the UK and elsewhere."And his first example:

"I'm resigning, as of today"

As for your point about foreign students, I'd much rather hear my EFL students say something like "I'm leaving the company as of next Monday" than the Oh so correct "To whom should I give this?" or "This is he". I would be delighted if my students spoke more idiomatic language; it's the formal stuff they've learnt at school that's the main problem.

So from my point of view, there was absolutely no problem with BJ's example. And what got my goat was that what you were really commenting on was not BJ's point, but his use of language (in an informal setting), which for some reason you disapproved of. So in reply to your initial comment, yes, I rather think you were being anal.

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The difficulty with "what sounds natural" as a criterion is what sounds natural to you may not sound natural to me, or someone from say Jamaica or some other dialect. I don't know what a better criterion would be: perhaps there is more mileage in the idea of "standard" English - as being anything that a well educated English speaker would understand clearly and could use - and non-standard English, stuff that is strictly dialectic or obsolete. Quite who decided which is which I dunno, but it needs to be empirically based on corpuses.
Let me add that I am not suggesting that dialect words are in any way lesser or nether; just that one could not be sure of being understood forthwith in an international email or conversation.

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@Jo - that ending was a bit harsh, so I'll add a couple of these - :)), :))

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For instance: I have heard an American say "Did you do your homework already?"
and "Did you do your homework yet?". Both to me are quite awkward-sounding, but seemingly okay to normal to some, and readily understood.
The other issue that arises is register and nuance. For instance "pussy" was not regarded as a risque word in the UK until perhaps recently under American inflows.
So sentences like "John I love", which are slightly unusual or poetic although natural in context, are still part of "standard" English; even archaic English (Tolkien, KJV) is still standard as, despite having an "archaic" flavour is would still be perfectly well understood by an educated English speaker worldwide. If one couldn't reasonably put it in a proficiency exam for English, it may be non-standard.
"As of", "as at", "as from" are all to me normal business-speak like "with effect from".

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@ Warsaw will - Ouch - I feel suitably chastised! But indeed appreciate the belated softening of tone ;-)

Although I see and agree with most your points, I still feel that BJ's example:

- I'm quitting as of Friday

appears to contradict the definition of usage he specifically gave:

- I believe that 'as of' means 'from this day on'

Personally, I can’t see how 'quitting' can carry any sense of ‘from this day on’… but evidently I may be one of very few of that mind.

As to one of your examples:

- So Breech ended the contract, as of June 30" - (Time Magazine 21 July 1947)

In the legal world, 'as of' can carry a particular meaning: the 'as of' date is when something is considered to take effect, which could differ from the date the event actually occurred. This could possibly be the reason for some ‘as of’ uses of this ilk, and it could also explain other uses in commercial English that I’m not sure I would say are ‘standard' in a business context.

Either way, I apologise for the arrogance of my tone in my initial post- it was not intended. But in my feeble defence, I do feel that these points merit some consideration, albeit limited for ‘informal’ usage, and I will merely add that I am under the influence of working exclusively with foreign lawyers.

Thank you for your comprehensive explanation Warsaw will - as a newcomer to the world of blog commenting, I’ll certainly think/read things through more fully before bowling in with my off-the-cuff two-penneth worth.

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@ Jayles

I agree that a key question is what is deemed 'standard', and as you say 'what sounds natural'. Both of which can be very subjective.

I know I'm still banging on about 'as of', but your definition:

"As of", "as at", "as from" are all to me normal business-speak like "with effect from".

doesn't sit well with me (admittedly maybe only me!) when I apply this to, say,
financial accounts (BrE):

- the financial consolidated statements give a true and fair view of the financial position of the company as at 6 April 2011

Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable replacing 'as at' with 'with effect from' (and thus or 'as of'), because I feel that it would suggest a different meaning.

But perhaps I am imagining this BrE nuance in meaning..?

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@Jo Yes I think you are taking a true and fair view of the situation; and I think auditors in the almighty US of A use similar wording. A green tick to you!

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@Jo - "Don't wish to be anal, but I would say that BJ's example "I'm quitting as of Friday" was a bit off point. [Instead use:]

I'm quitting on Friday
or
As of Friday I will no longer be working for 'XYZ Ltd'"

For what it's worth, I agree with your correction Jo - my example was a bit off because the act of quitting is something that occurs at a particular point in time. Your second example makes more sense; or to preserve the structure of my example, something like:

"I will be looking for a new job as of Friday."

I continue to share your view that in BrE, "as of" and "as at" have different meanings - the former is a situation expected to continue for some time, the latter is a snapshot of something that may well change quickly - e.g., a financial balance, exchange rate, weather forecast (e.g., "As at 1pm on 25/2/13, we continue to expect the storm to hit London within the next 24 hours").

It's about how stable over time the assertion is expected to be. "As at" communicates the important context that the assertion is only reliable at a particular point in time.

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@jayles - I don't think your definition of Standard English - "as being anything that a well educated English speaker would understand clearly and could use" is that far removed from my "sounding natural", although I agree with you that there will be variations. For example you mentioned feeling uncomfortable when hearing Past Simple used with "already" and "yet", but I'm sure that you know from your TEFL training that this is quite standard with some American speakers. Another AmE / BrE difference lies with group nouns. We often feel more comfortable saying "the government are", they feel better with "the government is". So, yes, there will be variations, even within Standard English.

Unfortunately I don't have any dialect, so speak Standard British English as my normal day-to-day language. I think I have a reasonably good idea as to what is normal language for my peer group - that is what I call natural - nothing obviously ungrammatical, but similarly no overformal constructions. Good old idiomatic English, in fact. And I don't usually get any big surprises when I check my hunches in MWDEU or New Fowler's, so I don't think my idea of what is natural is particularly unusual.

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@Warsaw Will : Not suggesting you are wrong; just we need some more concrete benchmarking. I think everyone has a dialect; yours may well be more "catholic" than some. It is all about the audience; whether the reader/listener understands correctly; (or if the examiner thinks it is okay).
"The government is" /"the government are" either makes no difference to the meaning.
However "the government" vs "government" may well make a difference; (and more of an issue for slav speakers.) At the end of the day it is only meaning that matters, not grammar of itself.

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@jayles - Why do we need more concrete benchmarking? I'm sure your experience both as an educated speaker and as an experienced teacher has given you a feel for what is grammatical or natural and what is not. I don't know of any of my colleagues having any benchmarks other than their own good judgement. After all, the vast majority of native speakers manage perfectly well without any benchmarks.

As for my dialect, it's RP, without the faintest trace of a regional accent, unfortunately. It's not much fun constantly being called a foreigner (i.e. English) in your own country (Scotland).

No, the government is / are isn't an issue for my students, whereas articles, as you rightly say, most definitely are. But when it comes to differences between BrE and AmE, it's definitely an issue, as you can see on this PITE thread - http://painintheenglish.com/case/4394

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@jayles - OK, I do check with Swan now and then, and the OALD occasionally, but that's about all.

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@warsaw will: many "English" teachers in Korea (and elsewhere) are in fact American. So students learn "movie" not "film".
Now, are you going to insist on "Have you finished your homework?" (pres perf)
Again, we hear "we was" and "he were" every night on Coro Street.
Once upon a time in Eastern Europe I met girl (occupational hazard). She had a rich Manchester accent .... I never dreamt it masked her Czech origin.
Times have moved on and students need English for business and/or university, fast. Building up their word-stock is more useful than spending class time on the finer points of grammar, such as: "I am meeting her tomorrow" vs "I am going to meet her.." Nor should we forget that "continuous" forms are being well over-used by a quarter of a billion English speakers on the Indian subcontinent.
In short, RP is a quirky regional sub-dialect, why do you teach it? Why not English exactly like the Queen speaks?
I always wanted to say all this when training new teachers....just to stir them up...Of course it's OTT but who knows what all those new young Americans really say????
Fins ain't wot they used to be, guv.

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@ BJ - it's worth a great deal - so thank you.

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@jayles -
I think you mean "fings"

I was taught on my teacher training that the use of the continuous is a standard part of Indian English, not an "overuse".

When did I say that I "taught" RP? I simply said that it was my dialect. I have to speak something!

I thought we'd had this out about grammar and vocab a few weeks ago. Students need a balance. Personally, however, I think teaching students lots of vocab in class is rather a waste of class time, which can be much better used putting it into practice. As a student of French and Spanish myself, I learn most of my vocab from outside the class, from reading etc. That's when it sticks, and then I try it out in class later.

I do think it is important that students should know the differences you talk about. It's not much use knowing the words if you can't string them together. In fact my students sometimes complain that I don't do enough grammar. But then most of my students are pretty high level.

I don't actually insist on anything with my students. I tell them what is the norm in British English, and correct them a little, but if they go on with it, I don't push it, at least not for things that don't get in the way of understanding and communication. And that would include Present perfect and 3rd person S.

"students need English for business and/or university", and to get into university they may need IELTS, or their company expects them to do BEC, or a general Certificate exam such as FCE or CAE. If you don't teach these students the difference between the various future forms, amongst other things, I think you're short-changing them.

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're trying to say with your opening remarks. Do I think Koreans should be taught British English? And where does Coronation Street come into it? Do I think they should be taught Lancashire dialect? I'm not sure what your point is here. I think they should be taught standard English, but the teacher's accent is neither here nor there. I have colleagues with Lancashire, Scottish, Australian, Canadian and American accents; it's simply not an issue. I wouldn't "teach" - "He were in't pub" as being Standard English, but I occasionally show a video clip from the Catherine Tate Show - "Shittake mushrooms" which includes the lines "We was on our way to see our Valda", "So we gets in to the pub", "Then he read what were in it", and explain that this is Yorkshire dialect, and that not everyone speaks Standard English all the time. You can see how I treat it here:

http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2012/11...

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