As … as it takes to do

  • grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Instead of the original:
    Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation.
    can I say “Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it requires them to be __ to contain inflation.”?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Instead of the original:

    can I say “Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it requires them to be __ to contain inflation.”?
    No, you can’t paraphrase it using the dummy-it as though it represents something specific. You could say:

    Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as necessary to contain inflation.​
    but that’s a poor substitute, now lacking the forcefulness of the original, which conveys that they’ll do however much it takes.

    What it takes – to achieve something, for something to happen, etc. – is an idiomatic concept, which can be used in different ways.

    what it takes = what is needed or needs to be done​
    have what it takes = have the wherewithal [to do or be something]​
    whatever it takes = anything (however much) that’s needed or needs to be done​
    all it takes = the small amount that’s needed or needs to be done​
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you so much for your detailed explanations!👍
    which conveys that they’ll do however much it takes.
    Can the original sort of be seen as elliptical from “ … as hawkish as (however hawkish a central banker) it takes to contain inflation.”?
    The reason I see it that way is that I think it should be fine to say “It takes a hawkish central banker to contain inflation.” I’d say there’s some link between the two.
    What do you think?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't like the original sentence.
    The "it takes" construction works well with the kinds of example LB listed in #7, but not all instances of "as is necessary" can be replaced by "as it takes", and I don't think "to be as <adjective> as it takes to do something" works well at all.
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you.
    I don't think "to be as <adjective> as it takes to do something" works well at all.
    I agree.
    The most commonly used example of that pattern seems to be “as long as it takes to do”, as in:
    To prevent rushing, suggest washing their hands for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
    It’s much easier to parse than “as hawkish as it takes to do”.
    Anyway, is it fine to say “It takes a hawkish central banker to contain inflation.”?
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Idioms exist to be used in the time-honoured way, not to be altered beyond recognition.
    Then I would like to ask, is the phrase “to contain inflation” attached to the as-clause “as it takes” as a real subject, or to the main clause as an infinitive of purpose?
    Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Anyway, is it fine to say “It takes a hawkish central banker to contain inflation.”?
    It is possible to say that, yes, but it doesn't mean the same as the original.
    is the phrase “to contain inflation” attached to the as-clause “as it takes” as a real subject, or to the main clause as an infinitive of purpose?
    The question is moot, given that the sentence is basically broken.
    If the sentence were "... as hawkish as necessary to contain inflation", then "to contain inflation" would indeed be an infinitive of purpose, and you could think of it as being attached to "necessary".
    The idea is that in order to achieve the objective of containing inflation (keeping inflation under control), it is necessary for bankers to have a certain amount of hawkishness.
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The question is moot, given that the sentence is basically broken.
    It might be easier to understand the structure of the original by comparing it with other versions:
    (1). Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation.
    pronoun referent: dummy "it" = "to contain inflation"
    infinitive attachment: As a real subject, "to contain inflation" is attached to "as it takes" in the dependent clause. That is, the whole dependent as-clause should be "as it takes to contain inflation", rather than "as it takes".

    (2). Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as they get to contain inflation. :tick:
    pronoun referent: real subject "they" = "central bankers"
    infinitive attachment: As an infinitive of purpose, "to contain inflation" is attached to "as hawkish" in the main clause. That is, the whole dependent as-clause should be "as they get", rather than "as they get to contain inflation".

    Please contrast (2) with (3) below:
    (3). Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it gets to contain inflation. :cross: (This must be incorrect.)
    As we see here, (3) is a blend of (1) and (2). But it must be grammatically incorrect because, on the one hand, "it" must refer to "to contain inflation" (, and "it" can't refer to "bankers"), as must the "it" in (1), but on the other hand, with the verb "gets", the dependent as-clause, as in (2), must only be "as it gets", thus making "it" unable to refer to "to contain inflation".

    (4). Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as is necessary to contain inflation.
    pronoun referent: -
    infinitive attachment: As an infinitive of purpose, "to contain inflation" is attached to "as is necessary" in the dependent clause. That is, "to contain inflation" is an infinitive of purpose both in (2) and (4), but it is an adverbial of purpose in the main clause of (2), while it is so in the dependent as-clause of (4).

    In a nutshell, "as it takes" in (1) might be an idiom, as LB suggested in #7 and #9,
    What it takes – to achieve something, for something to happen, etc. – is an idiomatic concept, which can be used in different ways.
    Idioms exist to be used in the time-honoured way, not to be altered beyond recognition.
    but it might be better to see it within the whole as-clause "as it takes to contain inflation", not to see it stand-alone. And in turn "as it takes to contain inflation" should have something to do with the construction "It takes X to do Y", as in "It takes a hawkish central banker to contain inflation".
    If the above observation is correct, then "… as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation" in the OP might be seen as derived from “ … as hawkish as (however hawkish a central banker) it takes to contain inflation”, though we don't normally say the latter.

    What would you say to the above reasoning?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    It might be easier to understand the structure of the original by comparing it with other versions:
    Unfortunately your link in #1 is to an article behind a subscription wall, and so I haven't been able to see the sentence in full context, and to get a feel for how carefully written and edited the article is. My eyebrows were raised, though, by the phrase "sharply higher interest rates" in the second sentence of the introduction. In my view, "sharply" doesn't collocate anywhere near as comfortably with "higher" as it does with "rising". The meaning is clear, I think: interest rates which have suddenly risen sharply but are not continuing to rise. But nevertheless it just doesn't sound right. Perhaps the same carelessness led to the (in my view) faulty collocation "as hawkish as it takes". It seems to be using the established idiom "as much as it takes" and simply replacing "much" with "hawkish". It just doesn't work well, no matter how much you try to speculate as to how the underlying grammar can be interpreted sensibly. In #7, LB lists some good ways in which "it takes" can be used.

    Turning to your examples in #14:

    In version 1, I don't think there is much mileage in trying to view "to contain inflation" as a subject, as though part of "To contain inflation takes (requires) much hawkishness, and bankers will continue to supply it.

    Version 2 is another valiant attempt, but doomed. It harks to the idiom "as good as it gets", but it doesn't work like this. You could, however, say
    they will continue to be as hawkish as they can.

    Version 3, I agree, is incorrect.

    Version 4 is good, and is what I believe the intended meaning of the original is. The "is" in "as is necessary" would normally be omitted.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Across the rich world, central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation.
    Consider:
    A: How many litres of petrol do you want?
    B: As many as it takes to fill the tank. =
    I want as many litres as it takes to fill the tank =
    I want as many litres as that number of litres that is required in order to fill the tank.

    The "it" is a dummy subject, also known as the preparatory "it". The it is cataphoric and refers to "that number of litres that is required in order to fill the tank"


    What is the object (or complement) of the verb “takes”? In other words, it takes what to contain inflation?
    The adverbial complement is "in order to contain inflation".

    Takes = requires.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    but it might be better to see it within the whole as-clause "as it takes to contain inflation", not to see it stand-alone. And in turn "as it takes to contain inflation" should have something to do with the construction "It takes X to do Y", as in "It takes a hawkish central banker to contain inflation".
    If the above observation is correct, then "… as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation" in the OP might be seen as derived from “ … as hawkish as (however hawkish a central banker) it takes to contain inflation”, though we don't normally say the latter.

    What would you say to the above reasoning?
    I’d say it’s irrelevant to the construction in question, which is not about who it takes to contain inflation, but about how much hawkishness (or whatever else) it takes/is needed.

    they will be as hawkish as it takes (= as [is] necessary)
    they will be however hawkish they need to be (= as [is] necessary)
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    which is not about who it takes to contain inflation, but about how much hawkishness (or whatever else) it takes/is needed.
    Yes, you're right.:thumbsup: I agree.
    Let me do another set of mutations, focusing on “how much hawkishness”, as below:
    Basic construction:
    1a. It takes a lot of hawkishness (on the part of central bankers) to contain inflation.
    Comparative construction:
    1b. Central bankers will be as hawkish as (however much hawkishness) it takes to contain inflation.
    1c. Central bankers will be as hawkish as (any amount of hawkishness) it takes to contain inflation.
    1d. Central bankers will be as hawkish as (whatever) it takes to contain inflation.
    1e. Central bankers will be as hawkish as it takes to contain inflation.
    Sentences 1b/1c/1d/1e can be comparable to “John is as tall as 2.36 meters”, not “John is as tall as Michael Jordan”.
    And I'd think we can also use the same comparative construction to say something like:
    2a. John wants to grow to be as tall as it takes to qualify as a basketball player.
    2b. John wants to grow to be as tall as (however much height) it takes to qualify as a basketball player.

    What would you say to the above analysis? In particular, are 1b and 1c and 1e grammatically fine?
     
    Last edited:

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I want as many litres as it takes to fill the tank
    Thank you, PaulQ.
    I'd say that the original is quite different from your example in that "hawkish" is an adjective that cannot function as an object of "takes" while "many litres" is a noun phrase that can do so.
    The adverbial complement is "in order to contain inflation".
    Can we say "I want as many litres as it takes in order to fill the tank" or "Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes in order to contain inflation"? (I wouldn't add "in order".)
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Unfortunately your link in #1 is to an article behind a subscription wall, and so I haven't been able to see the sentence in full context, and to get a feel for how carefully written and edited the article is.
    Please see the attachment for its context:
     

    Attachments

    • E7A4257E-A9AB-46AE-9C42-B244391578F3.jpeg
      E7A4257E-A9AB-46AE-9C42-B244391578F3.jpeg
      366.4 KB · Views: 6
    • 6E16FFFE-69E6-4DA5-8EAF-2E31805D1E3D.jpeg
      6E16FFFE-69E6-4DA5-8EAF-2E31805D1E3D.jpeg
      413.9 KB · Views: 6
    • 35C55CA5-D156-46A2-9A7A-D3A2BD278D3E.jpeg
      35C55CA5-D156-46A2-9A7A-D3A2BD278D3E.jpeg
      342.8 KB · Views: 6

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Can we say "I want as many litres as it takes in order to fill the tank" or "Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes in order to contain inflation"?
    to fill the tank" and "in order to fill the tank" are identical. They are both adverbial.
    Can we say "I want as many litres as it takes in order to fill the tank" or "Central bankers will continue to be as hawkish as it takes in order to contain inflation"?
    Yes, Both.
    (I wouldn't add "in order".)
    It does not matter whether you do or not: grammatically, and semantically, they are the same.
     
    Last edited:
    Top