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I've been having major difficulty (to me anyway) understanding this phrase, "act as".

Let's say there's these two characters, Character 1 is saying this to character 2: "You have to act as my new wife instead of Maria"

There isn't a whole lot of info on the usage of "act as" and it throws me off so much. May I ask for some help understanding this?

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Hello, Elisabeth, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Here you can find quite a good definition of "act as":

act as something (phrasal verb) to do a particular job for a short time, for example while the usual person is absent
My brother speaks French – he can act as interpreter
Examples from the Corpus
act as DeConcini acted as host at the meeting.

@Elisabeth posted:

I've been having major difficulty (to me anyway) understanding this phrase, "act as".

Let's say there's these two characters, Character 1 is saying this to character 2: "You have to act as my new wife instead of Maria"

There isn't a whole lot of info on the usage of "act as" and it throws me off so much.

I think the intended meaning is:

- You have to act as if you were my new wife.
or
- You have to pretend you are my new wife.
or
- You have to play the role of my new wife.

It'd seem that Maria is absent and "you" is being requested to take her place.

Hello, Elisabeth, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Here you can find quite a good definition of "act as":

act as something (phrasal verb) to do a particular job for a short time, for example while the usual person is absent
My brother speaks French – he can act as interpreter
Examples from the Corpus
act as DeConcini acted as host at the meeting.

I think the intended meaning is:

- You have to act as if you were my new wife.
or
- You have to pretend you are my new wife.
or
- You have to play the role of my new wife.

It'd seem that Maria is absent and "you" is being requested to take her place.

Thank you so much for this! I understand "act as"  means all of that, I read some more synonyms for "act as". "Be" and "Become" sounds more comfortable, does it changes the meaning of the phrase when "act as" turns into "be" or "become"? Like "You have to become or be my new wife"?

Could "be"/"become" be the same as "act as"?

It sounds like the speaker is adamant about me acting as or becoming his new wife with the word "have to".

Last edited by Elisabeth
@Elisabeth posted:

"You have to act as my new wife instead of Maria"

There isn't a whole lot of info on the usage of "act as" and it throws me off so much. May I ask for some help understanding this?

Hello, Elisabeth, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Gustavo has explained the various possible meanings of "act as" in your sentence. I'd like to add that the "instead of" phrase is syntactically ambiguous.

The "instead of" phrase appears to apply within the "as"-phrase. In that case, the meaning is, "Don't act as Maria. Act as my new wife."

However, it is also possible that "instead of Maria" applies to the subject of the sentence. Maria is no longer to act as the speaker's new wife. "You" are.

Hello, Elisabeth, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Gustavo has explained the various possible meanings of "act as" in your sentence. I'd like to add that the "instead of" phrase is syntactically ambiguous.

The "instead of" phrase appears to apply within the "as"-phrase. In that case, the meaning is, "Don't act as Maria. Act as my new wife."

However, it is also possible that "instead of Maria" applies to the subject of the sentence. Maria is no longer to act as the speaker's new wife. "You" are.

I see now Thank you for the clarification! I was thinking about the synonyms of "act as", not the definition because I was wondering if there's a list of words to use that are either identical or similar to the phrase "act as". It still sounds awkward to say it aloud and may confuse people like me. 😅

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