Mike MᶜGarry

GMAT Idioms Involving “As”

UPDATE: You can find this blog and others about idioms in our new GMAT Idiom eBook!

The word “as” is a remarkable little power-packed word.  It functions as both a preposition (as in this sentence!) and as a conjunction.   It is one of the flexible and multifaceted words in the English language.   Not surprisingly, the word “as” appears in a wide assortment of idioms.   This blog article covers the “as”-idioms most likely to appear on GMAT Sentence Correction.


Cognitive idioms

Four prominent idioms concern the way we think about or perceive something:

define A as B

regard A as B

think of A as B

view A as B

In all four of these, A is the object of contemplation, the literal reference, and B is the idea or view we attribute to it.  The last three of these are, essentially, synonymous.

1) The Devil’s Dictionary defines a “bore” as “A person who talks when you wish him to listen.”

Improve your GMAT score with Magoosh.

2) Vladimir Horowitz regarded Sviatoslav Richter as the greatest of the Russian pianists.

3) Muhammad Ali thought of heavyweight champion Jack Johnson as the predecessor with whom he had the most in common.

4) Military historians view Nathanael Greene as one of greatest American generals, and yet the public knows next to nothing about him.


Idioms of role

In this collection of idioms, the word “as” is used to denote the role of a person or the use of an object.

apprenticeship as

work as

use as

employ as

For the first idiom, see SC #135 in the OG13.  In both of the next two idioms, the words “work” and “use” can be used as either nouns or verbs.   (That’s a quite self-referential sentence!)

5) A 17-year-old Benjamin Franklin ran away from Boston, and went to Philadelphia, looking for work as a printer’s aide.

6) Would a free weight work well as a hammer?

7) Einstein‘s revolutionary insight was to use the equivalence of inertial frames as the basis of his new paradigm.

8) The senator agreed with the court’s basic ruling, but objected to its use as a political criticism of the current administration.

9) In 1723, the city of Leipzig employed Johann Sebastian Bach as Cantor, or music master, of the city’s school and churches, a position he held until his death in 1750.

10) Did you know you can employ a substantive clause as the object of a prepositional phrase?


Improve your GMAT score with Magoosh.

A comparisons idiom

The word “as” is used extensively in comparisons.  One particular construction merits special mention.

same to P as to Q

11) While other mammals lack the cognitive capabilities associated with the human cerebral cortex, all mammals have a limbic system; therefore fundamental emotions are the same to other mammals as to humans.


Idiom of purpose

The idiom so as to is roughly a synonym of so that — both are used to discuss the purpose of an action.

12) Like Hannibal and Charlemagne before him, Napoleon crossed the Alps so as to invade Italy by land from the north.



Know the idioms given in bold in this post.  As always with idioms, read, read, read!   Search for the idioms in this post in context.  You understand English best when you understand it in context.



  • Mike MᶜGarry

    Mike served as a GMAT Expert at Magoosh, helping create hundreds of lesson videos and practice questions to help guide GMAT students to success. He was also featured as “member of the month” for over two years at GMAT Club. Mike holds an A.B. in Physics (graduating magna cum laude) and an M.T.S. in Religions of the World, both from Harvard. Beyond standardized testing, Mike has over 20 years of both private and public high school teaching experience specializing in math and physics. In his free time, Mike likes smashing foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Learn more about the GMAT through Mike’s Youtube video explanations and resources like What is a Good GMAT Score? and the GMAT Diagnostic Test.

More from Magoosh