What is the meaning and the function of 'as it has existed in practice' in below sentence?

'A criticism of democracy as it has existed in practice is that the power to vote for leaders is of peripheral importance in societies in which there are powerful vested interests that control the economy, the media, and other powerful areas.'

My questions are... 1. 'as it has existed in practice' is a clause that modifies the subject 'a criticism of democracy', right?

  1. What is the meaning of that clause? (What does 'as' mean here? What does 'in practice' means?)

  2. The clause can be eliminated and still mean the same thing?

Thank you!

2 Answers 2


The clause as it has existed in practice is modifying democracy in the example sentence. as it has existed cannot modify a criticism because it is obvious that the criticism is existing in practice. There are no extra words needed to define it. However, democracy is largely the set of rules or criteria existing on papers and then implemented in practice.

Ans 1. "as it has existed in practice" is modifying democracy.

Ans 2. The meaning of the clause: Democracy is being practiced in the form of power to vote for leaders.

Ans 3. The clause is important but could have been better framed as "A criticism of democracy, as it has existed in practice, is that the power..."


It’s not actually a clause, but a preposition phrase introduced by the preposition as. The function of the PP is that of modifier of the noun democracy.

The preposition as has a meaning akin to in the manner, so we can paraphrase the PP as in the manner it has existed in practice.

In practice means what actually happened, as opposed to what was meant or believed to happen.

Modifiers are always optional, and hence it is omissible with no change in the core meaning of the sentence as a whole.

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