3

Why would one say

" you can do that as and when needed"

instead of

" you can do that when needed"

Is there any difference between them?

4
  • It's an idiomatic phrase. Look up the meaning here.
    – Irene
    Jun 2 '13 at 12:31
  • 2
    @Irene: That ref doesn't really help to show the difference between the phrases. I would suggest that ...when needed... implies that something will be needed in the future, whereas ...as and when needed... suggests only that it might be needed.
    – DavidR
    Jun 2 '13 at 14:17
  • 1
    An alternative would be if and when, which perhaps provides clearer contrast to simply when. 'The car keys are on the table when you need them' vs 'The fire extinguisher is under the driver's seat if and when you need it'. Jun 5 '13 at 22:36
  • There is also a slightly legalistic or even medicinal (but not medical) undertone to "as and when." Some claim that its use implies that the speaker has distaste for the option proffered, but I think that might be stretching a bit.
    – jbeldock
    Jun 9 '13 at 23:08
3

In the spirit of Strunk and White as taught in many US English classes, "as and when" is too long. I work with a lot of folks from India and they use this phrase all the time where a simple "when" will do. A similar situation occurs with the use of the phrase "unless and until" instead of using just one of those words, or saying "at the rate of" instead of just "at" for the @ symbol. Language is living and breathing and there will always be cultural differences in usage, which is of course OK, but in my opinion one should strive to use as few words as possible whenever extra word(s) add little or no value. Keep it simple and communication will become clearer.

2
  • Hi, welcome to EL&U! I wasn't taught from Strunk and White's Elements of Style, so you'll have to forgive me, but... where did they say this? Or when? I wasn't taught anything like this, so I'm curious.
    – Ice-9
    May 29 '14 at 16:05
  • The premise of the entire Strunk and White book is about keeping things simple. Don't use a $5 word when a nickel word will do. Apr 24 '19 at 23:11
2

"as and when" is just another version of "if and when". "If" implies it may or may not be needed. "When" implies it will be needed.

You could just as easily say "if needed" or "when needed" and it would amount to the same thing.

The language is full of alternative ways to say one thing, and frequently the alternatives may slightly connote differently, but not all that differently. That's actually part of the beauty of it. If there was only one way to say something, it might get boring after a while.

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