English language Uncategorized

As of this writing …

Q: Fredricka Whitfield and Heidi Collins of CNN, among others, use the expression “as of yet.” To me, it reeks of confusion between “as yet” and “as of now.” Comment?

A: The phrase “as of yet” may indeed be a relatively recent conflation of “as yet” and “as of now,” but this “as” business has its roots in Middle English, the language spoken from about 1100 to 1500.

Since the 13th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “as” has been used just before a time element in phrases like “as then,” “as now,” “as to-day,” “as tomorrow,” and so on.

But of these phrases, the OED says, “literary English retains only as yet,” meaning “up to this time, hitherto.”

The expression “as of” plus a time element is more recent – about 600 years more recent.

The first citation in the OED is from a letter Mark Twain wrote in 1900, in which he used the phrase “as of yesterday.”

Other citations include phrases like “as of 1955,” “as of the end of 1973,” “as of last term,” and, most frequently, “as of now.”

The OED has no mention of “as of yet.”

But Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed.) calls it a “vulgarism,” and doesn’t like “as yet” either, calling them “both invariably inferior to yet alone, still, thus far, or some other equivalent.”

I wouldn’t go that far. I see nothing wrong with “as yet,” and if “as of yet” is a crime against English, it’s certainly a small one. Still, why use “as of yet” if “as yet” will do? It’s simple enough to drop the “of.”

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