Gerald Ford and the simultaneous “as.”

by slowdancejournal

Gerald Ford walking with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger-to-Camp-DavidIt was said of Gerald Ford (probably unjustly) that he was not smart enough to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Walk or chew?

Fine.

But he could not walk as he chewed.

Simultaneity was beyond him.

The “as” construction is big in fiction. Add an “as,” and many sentences flow better.

But the construction is often used in sentences in which actions are sequential not simultaneous:

As the car pulled up, Martha climbed in.

Either Martha is exceptionally quick and acrobatic or an “and” or a “then” is in order.

The simultaneous “as” is especially dangerous in sentences that list multiple actions. The “as” may well be true of the first action listed, but break down when applied to the actions listed later in the sentence:

As Martha put on her shoes she whistled and walked to the kitchen. Please picture this in your head—and then check your own sentences for physical impossibilities.