I heard someone use the words mistaken as rather than mistaken for.

Is this correct? If it is correct then what is the difference between the two? Is it ever wrong to use mistaken as, and if so, why?

I ask because I was recently advised about something:

It shouldn't in any way be mistaken as an academic judgement.

In dictionary definitions and usage guides, the preposition used is given as for, not as. However, there are other examples with as, such as ones in comments below, as well as in books on the internet.

  • Hello RAFATH. If you show the people here the attempts you yourself have made to address your questions, eg examples given in dictionaries and occurring on the internet, it would be closer to the type of question the Help Center expects. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 11 '14 at 23:32
  • "I was mistaken as a doctor" or "I was mistaken for a doctor" what is the meaning and difference between the two? – RAFATH Jul 11 '14 at 23:35
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    @FumbleFingers Edwin, I'm not sure. My intuition is that OP's example in comments is acceptable. was mistaken as an indication of, was mistaken as evidence of and the like seem ok. I think data, communicative functions, intents - stuff that needs interpreting - can be (mis)taken as. General entities - including data etc can be mistaken for. The former would be far more restricted. Entities that are recognised, not interpreted, will give us very strong ungrammaticality judgements: Don't mistake me as Bob. Compare with Don't mistake this drop as evidence of a decline ... – Araucaria Jul 12 '14 at 19:21
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    @FumbleFingers I'd already posted a comment that it may not be worth reopening. Don't what's happened to it, appears to have been ghosted away. Last two links and the one that was in that comment itself were just for interest. I'm not really a fan of Ngrams at all ... – Araucaria Jul 13 '14 at 17:57
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    @Araucaria "It shouldn't in any way be mistaken as an academic judgement." It sounds okay to me. :) – F.E. Jul 13 '14 at 19:00

Usually, "mistaken for" is used when the speaker is refering to something with an identity (anything with mass)- that is a person, or an object.

Ex: He was mistaken for her husband as he was sitting by her side.

"Mistaken as" is used when the speaker is refering to some kind of an action, say, judgement in this question.

Ex: Since he spoke like an angel, his intentions were mistaken as good [or honorable]

  • I think that this is a good summary of the distinction between mistaken for and mistaken as, except that I would change your final example to this: Since he spoke like an angel, his intentions were mistaken as good [or honorable]. – Sven Yargs Jul 30 '14 at 23:43
  • Thanks @SvenYargs, you are right. The sentence provides more clarity with your suggestion. – Arun614 Aug 20 '14 at 9:16

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