As strange as it may seem OR Strange as it may seem

Discussion in 'English Only' started by audiolaik, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member


    Is there any difference between the following two:

    a) As strange as it may seem, ....
    b) Strange as it may seem, ....

    If you asked me, a non-native speaker, I would say that they mean the same. Am I right?

    Thank you!
  2. sportwood

    sportwood New Member

    Bloomington, Indiana
    English - Appalacian

    They mean the same in my books!

  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    While they mean the same, the second is far more common in my small corner of the English speaking world.
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    And in mine ...
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    a) As strange as it may seem = "(In spite of) how strange it may seem".
    b) Strange as it may seem
    = a or c.
    c) Strange though it may seem = "Though it may seem strange".

    Clause a references the degree of possible strangeness;clause c references the possibility of strangeness; clause b depends on the interpretation of as, which sometimes, but not always, means "though".
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Mine too.

    With all due respect, Forero, and I mean this in the nicest possible way ... I think you may be over-analyzing it the weentsiest bit ...
  7. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I think b is more common because it does not distinguish the weentsy difference between a and c, and a and c are both less common because they rather belabor the difference.

    But a and c are available should we wish to be that persnickety. :) [Is that "pernickety" in BrE?]
  8. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    Erm.... for me...

    a = b
    and in some places, or for some people, or in some contexts, a = b = c
  9. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    I'm dredging up this old thread because I have another question about the usage of "as ... as".

    According to what has been said here, it seems that the first "as" is generally omited both in BrE and AmE.

    But what about "(as) much as"?

    I thought more often than not the "as" was included. However, I've looked it up and most online dictionaries drop it in their examples, and some of them don't even mention it as a possibility.

    For example:

    Much as I like Bob, I wouldn't want to live with him.

    What do you think?

    Thank you for your help.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  10. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I myself would say "As much as I like ....." However, when I read your sentence, 'Much as I like ...." , I didn't notice that 'as' was omitted. It certainly is possible, especially in speech.

    In an internet search for "much as I like *, I wouldn't", of the first 100 results, only about 6 or 7 omitted 'as' (including this thread and the definition you cite). By far the majority were preceded by 'as': 'As much as I like ...." A few of the 100 results were in constructions different from the one we are discussing.

    Note: I see that your example sentence is found in much - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online. Please remember to name your source, even when you are quoting a dictionary definition.
  11. Little Chandler

    Little Chandler Senior Member

    La Coruña
    español (ESP)
    Ok. Thank you, Cagey!
  12. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    I would understand Forero's (a), (b) and (c) rather differently.

    The most straightforward is (c) 'Strange though it may seem'.
    This means 'Though it may seem strange'. 'Strange' has simply been brought forward for emphasis.

    A variant of this is (b): 'Strange as it may seem'. Here, 'as' means 'though'.
    This also means 'Though it may seem strange'.

    Version (a) seems to me to have been coined by people who did not understand that 'as' could mean 'though'.
    They thought that this was a comparative 'as' and they concluded that an initial 'as' was missing.
    Accordingly, they rephrased it in the words 'As strange as it may seem'.

    This does not seem a valid expression to me: not because it is impossible or inconceivable, but simply because it is not what those using it really mean. For example this page from Google has the following:
    Here, they are holding off just as long as it takes to make the software perfect.
    They are not holding off just to the extent that it may seem strange.

    The same analysis applies whenever we examine this expression. People do not mean 'just to the extent that it may seem strange'. They are really trying to say 'strange though it may seem', but they are not quite succeeeding.
  13. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I feel the need to clarify what I said four years ago.

    The introductory adverb phrases in question do not have to be concessive, but if we can assume they are, the difference remains between being strange to such a degree and just being strange at all. Since "as strange as it may seem" refers to a (presumably great) degree, it makes what follows more surprising than would be indicated by "strange though it may seem".
  14. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    Well, I do not see it as equivalent to 'however strange it may seem'. That is a different idea.
  15. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Yes, that is a different idea (yet another "degree of freedom"), which I had not thought of, but I believe that it too leads to a possible interpretation of b, one that does not quite apply to a or c.

    Though I can see multiple meanings in all three sentences, the as in b is most wonderfully multifaceted. In particular, it can be seen sometimes (or by some people) as an exact equivalent to c (in at least one of its meanings) and at other times (or by other people) as an exact equivalent to a (in at least one of its meanings). And in light of this new idea, it seems (to me anyway) that it does not have to be exactly equivalent to (any possible meaning of) either.

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