English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Today’s New York Times reported Eric Canter’s defeat in Primary election in Virginia under the headline: “Eric Cantor to step down as House Majority leader” followed by the text copy: “Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, will resign as majority leader within weeks,”

Time magazine also reports “Cantor to resign as Majority leader” in the headline, followed by the copy:

“Eric Cantor said Wednesday that he will step down from his post as House Majority Leader.”

Washington Post reports: “Cantor to step down from leadership post in July.”

I’ m quite comfortable with the expression, “He will step down from his post as House Majority leader,” but not clear with the meaning and specific function of “as” in “step down / resign as majority leader.”

What does “as” represent for in “Cantor steps down ( resigns) as majority leader,” and why is it “as,” not “from”?

share|improve this question
"As",in this case, can be considered a headline-writer's shorthand for "acting as". Headline English is a dialect all its own, with its own conventions, contractions, and substitutions. It's closely related to the conventions that used to be used in telegrams, and for the same reasons: saying the most interesting thing in the shortest possible way while remaining mostly comprehensible to someone familiar with those usages. – keshlam Jun 12 '14 at 3:29
up vote 10 down vote accepted

OED s.v. “as” sense 11:

a. Introducing a noun phrase equivalent to a subject or object complement.

(a) In the character, capacity, or function of.

. . .

(b) In theatrical and related use: in the role of.

Mr. Cantor is not resigning his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, his term having not yet expired, but he is vacating his leadership position within the Republican party majority in that chamber.

share|improve this answer
Can I apply “as” to, like, “Donald Sterling was expelled from NBA as the owner of L.A Clippers because of making racist comments.”? – Yoichi Oishi Jun 12 '14 at 11:22
@YoichiOishi, yes, but I would recommend definite article the before NBA and again before L.A. Clippers. – Brian Donovan Jun 12 '14 at 11:25
And, while you're at it, @YoichiOishi, you could optionally delete the before owner. – TRiG Jun 17 '14 at 14:31

"As" is a preposition linking Cantor to his role.

"As" can be a preposition, adverb, or conjunction. When used as a preposition, "as" has two uses: introducing a basis of comparison, or "in the role of" as @Brian Donovan has already answered.

It wouldn't be correct to use "from" instead of "as" here. "Cantor resigns from majority leader" wouldn't make sense, Perhaps an example involving another famous Republican might help to illustrate:

Richard Nixon resigns as President

Richard Nixon resigns from the Presidency

share|improve this answer
Exactly, this is a perfect example! – awendt Jun 12 '14 at 6:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.