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Which of the following sentences is correct English, and why?

As I heard that Greenday got a new CD, I went to the store to buy it.

As soon as I heard that Greenday got a new CD, I went to the store to buy it.

When I heard that Greenday got a new CD, I went to the store to buy it.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The three sentences actually mean three different things.

As I heard

means 'Because I heard'.

As soon as I heard

means that you went to the store the moment you became aware the new CD was out.

When I heard

is similar to 'as soon as', but implies a less immediate reaction.

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Thanks for pointing out the differences! – theomega Feb 1 '11 at 18:39
"As I heard" doesn't mean "Because I heard"; at least not in this context. – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 1 '11 at 20:29
@jae: what do you think it means in this context? Certainly the only way I can interpret that sentence so that it remains grammatical is as @ElendilTheTall said. – Marthaª Feb 1 '11 at 20:39

The first sentence doesn't make sense. Because "as I heard" means the moment you heard, as in "as the shot rang out, the whole world seemed to catch their breath". Or "as the election results came in, the mayor sat down heavily".

So, you wouldn't go to the shop to buy the new Green Day CD while hearing of its release; you'd go to the shop after hearing of its release, "as son as you heard".

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Actually, "as" has more than one meaning, including because. This sort of construction ("As [reason], [result]") is slightly awkward-sounding to modern ears, but it is nevertheless fully grammatical. – Marthaª Feb 1 '11 at 20:45
It makes sense, even if it is awkwardly constructed. It would be better to write it 'I went to the store, as I'd heard the new Greenday CD was out.' – user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 21:24
@ElendilTheTall: "as I'd heard"" is not the same as "as I heard". – Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 1 '11 at 21:29
It works equally well with 'hear', if you change the other words' tenses. I can see where you're coming from - "The runner left his mark as the gun went off", meaning as soon as - but as Martha says, in this case, as means because. It works with the runner example too: "The runner left his mark because the gun went off". – user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 21:36

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