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I was just having a conversation with a friend and I said "see how far from the access point each device is, so that I can do some relocation and such forth".

She said that using such forth at that part of the sentence is incorrect. Why?

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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The idiomatic phrase is "and so forth" which is often also used as a part of the phrase "and so on and so forth". It is, IMO, an elided form of "(and so it goes on) and so it goes forth".

While "and such forth" appears to be reasonably commonly used (going by Google's results), this ngram suggests that it is at best a colloquialism or a dialectal peculiarity and at worst, a common error.

To answer the question in the title, I'd say that and such forth should never be used. The phrase and so forth should be preferred instead.

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I think the OP is not concerned about the correctness of the phrase itself per se, but if its usage in her statement was incorrect. –  KeyBrd Basher Dec 14 '12 at 11:06
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@KeyBrdBasher If the phrase itself is incorrect, so is the usage in the provided statement. I'm not sure where you see an ambiguity. –  coleopterist Dec 14 '12 at 12:35
    
I think it's just a (mistaken) conflation of and so forth and and [other] such [things]. But it's not at all common. Google Books reports only 227 instances, compared to 161,000,000 for "and so forth", and 187,000 for "and other such things" (and that's only one of the "normal" variants involving the word "such"). –  FumbleFingers Dec 14 '12 at 14:40
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...another "unremarkable" variant is "and such like", with 15,000,000 results. I agree OP's phrase is effectively "non-standard" - so it's not unreasonable to call it "incorrect", even if it's no more or less "grammatical" than variants which are used. –  FumbleFingers Dec 14 '12 at 14:45
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@FumbleFingers Thank you. That's very interesting. –  coleopterist Dec 14 '12 at 15:51
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It would be understandable if you said “I can do some relocation and such” (with such acting as a pronoun, standing for “things like the one or ones already mentioned”), or if you said “I can do some relocation and so forth” (1, 2), but bundling the two forms together gives an untoward result.

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So and such are merely variants of the same morpheme (like a and an, or he and him)

Such appears modifying (and quantifying) Noun Phrases, while so appears elsewhere. There are a number of idioms and fixed phrases that use them.

  • It was so wonderful/such a good party that I died and went to heaven.
  • So much/Such a large quantity of wheat was produced that they had to export some.
  • He doesn't feel so depressed/such despair about it anymore.

In the context here, so forth is the idiom because forth is an adverb. Alternate idioms with such include such things and such stuff; I would normally consider such forth to be a nonce blend of those idioms.

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Like many other questions here on EL&U, while answering this question too I find myself standing on the crossroads of context.

As far as I can understand from the dialogue between you and your friend, if you were trying to convey that the distance of the devices from the access point allows you to do relocation and similar activities, then

so that I can do some relocation and such.

would had sufficed.

But if you meant to say that the distance allows you to do relocation, as well as some other activities, then the statement as it is does not convey it.

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I'm guessing you used it as some sort of portmanteau of such and so forth, but I'm only guessing.

That having to guess is enough to cast doubt on its correctness, or at least its usefulness.

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