First, thank you Edwin Ashworth and RegDwigнt♦ for your comments. I was able to learn and recognize my mistake, obscuring the point of question.

Here is as to I've wanted to discuss about:

  • He was uncertain as to which road to take.
    (Example given by Ediwn Ashworth)

Obvious though this is for you, I, as not a native, cannot get how this can possess the meaning, about. I suppose that these two prepositions, as and to, independently have several meanings depending on context they involve - meaning, roughly, such as "like", "while", et cetera of as. And there comes my question: which meanings of these, as and to, make such meaning, about, in the sentence above? How do they "converge" into such meaning?

Could you give me two sentences that have as or to whose meaning is used to make the meaning - One sentence that has as whose meaning of above, and another sentence that has to whose meaning of above.

Again, thanks.

  • google.com/search?q=define+"as+to"
    – mplungjan
    Oct 8, 2014 at 14:33
  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is more appropriate for English Language Learners Oct 8, 2014 at 15:53
  • @FumbleFingers Hey there, why is "How does our (native speaker) understanding of this two word phrase come about compositionally" an ELL question? It's not asking what it means! Oct 9, 2014 at 0:01
  • @Araucaria: I'm not sure it's particularly relevant to the ELL/ELU distinction whether a question asks about meaning or about the mechanics of the underlying syntactic structures. But this question is exceptionally basic, in that it seeks to understand how/why a single preposition such as as can appear in usages which have different meanings. So if you like, it effectively asks "What exactly does 'as' mean in absolute terms with no context?". Oct 9, 2014 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


I think the only answer to this question is idiomatically. Small words typically have many meanings, and serve as several parts of speech. Consider to act as leader(preposition, meaning "in the role of") As she was bored, she left (conjunction, meaning "because"). And there are lots more.

When you say, "How do they "converge" into such meaning?" you seem to expect that it should be possible to disassemble this two word phrase into its component parts in a way that preserves their meaning individually. As it states in this article on idioms, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiom

The manner in which units of meaning are assigned to units of syntax remains unclear. This problem has motivated a tremendous amount of discussion and debate in linguistics circles and it is a primary motivator behind the Construction Grammar framework.

See also:http://www.bartleby.com/116/504.html#40


These are semantically equivalent:

"He was uncertain which road to take."
"He was uncertain about the road to take."

The phrase as to in the context of your sentence is equivalent to about.

I would not break the phrase down further.

  • 3
    This does not begin to address OP's question. Oct 8, 2014 at 14:38

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