Writing Tip: “Seeing As How”
Yesterday I wrote about my preference for since or because over as in sentences where these words are synonymous. I have since been reminded of an even worse option: seeing as how.
“Seeing as how I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.”
How I’d love to say that “seeing as how” is incorrect. I can’t because I have no authority to point to, and it is, unfortunately, an expression in increasingly common use (See the graph below on its use in print publications). Who am I to say that the many who use it are wrong about it?
What I can say is it’s an ugly, awkward expression with several preferable alternatives. It’s not wrong; I just don’t like it.
Seeing As Or Seeing That
You could drop the how and stick to seeing as:
Seeing as I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.
I still don’t like this, but it’s better than seeing as how and is somewhat less colloquial
Seeing that is slightly better and has some literary precedence. Shakespeare himself used it in Julius Caesar (2:2) “Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.“
Seeing that I have a headache, I wont’ be going to work today.
Since or Because
Either since or because would be, in my opinion, a strong improvement — perfectly clear and more concise.
Since I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.
Because I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.
Inasmuch As Or Insofar As
For this sentence, however, I prefer either of these options: inasmuch as or insofar as. Both carry the the same meaning as “since” but can also mean “to the extent or degree that” — a slight variation that works in this case.
Inasmuch as I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.
Insofar as I have a headache, I won’t be going to work today.
Words and Preference
The variety and flexibility of English is both a curse and a blessing for the writer. We have listed here seven alternatives to what I consider a hideous construction — seeing as how. Each is a synonym of the other and could be used acceptably in this sentence. And there are other options, though none preferable: due to the fact that, because of the fact that, for the reason that, even considering that or in light of the fact that. All of these are unnecessarily wordy phrases, but all common in print and daily speech.
When it comes to synonymous words and phrases, the writer’s duty is to know the options, consider them carefully, and make a selection. Definition, including both denotation and connotation, should play the primary role in the decision, but aesthetic considerations like rhythm or fluency — the sound of the words — should be considered as well. The composition’s purpose and audience matter as well, of course. Words like inasmuch might not be appropriate in an informal context, for example. In the end, however, it comes down to subjective personal preference.We choose the expressions we like best.
Real writers care about word choices like this, even though it seems rather insignificant in the long run.
I’d appreciate your input. Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the space below.