My town is moving into the 21st century, beginning a program wherein we can sign up to receive our property tax receipts by email. Of course, we have to mail them a piece of paper in order to sign up, but let’s not expect the moon, eh?
The letter announcing this and containing the form to send in begins this way:
As the Receiver of Taxes, it has been important to provide you with first-rate customer service as well as up to date and cost effective office practices.
Ms Breining, our Receiver of Taxes, has fallen into a very popular pit, one containing enough writers that I think she should be able to climb out on the others’ backs.
Any sentence that begins with
as [role] must go on to have a subject that matches the role. I am the author of this entry. If I should say,
As the author of this entry, I must be the subject of the rest of the sentence.
Correct: As the author of this entry, I think that getting language right is important.
Incorrect: As the author of this entry, getting language right is important.
The subject of the incorrect sentence is
getting language right, but that is not the author of this entry.
It should be easy to get this one right, but it seems to be hard. A common error with the
as [role] construction happens when there are two people involved, and the
as gets attached to the wrong one:
As the representative on duty, call me if you have any problems.
The implied subject here is
you call me), but it’s the
me who is the representative on duty. Rewrite it one of these ways:
As the representative on duty, I am on call in case you have any problems.
As the representative on duty, I invite you to call me if you have any problems.
I am the representative on duty; call me if you have any problems.
In fact, it’s often best to avoid the
as [role] thing. It’s prone to error, and it’s often awkward or stilted anyway. But if you want to use it, please use it correctly.
As the Receiver of Taxes, I consider it important to provide you with first-rate customer service as well as up-to-date and cost-effective office practices.
Maybe we’ll talk about the demise of the hyphen another time (she did use it in
first-rate, but left it out of the other compound modifiers).