He spoke <as> little as he could with her.

< Previous | Next >

cheerfulscience

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi, I have been wondering about this question for some time. I know and have seen in some case, especially to give a literary effect, the first as in the as-as construction can be omitted, as in

1- Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves

Now, here if I am not wrong, the intended meaning is that you should be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, though the first as is dropped to a literary effect. My question is, are there well known circumstances where it is grammatically incorrect to do so? To use some examples, are the following sentences correct?

2- After he broke up with her, he spoke (as) little as he could with her

3- (As) strong as any great ruler, solon was also a great lawgiver

4- She had (as) much intelligence as her brother but unlike him she had devoted it to deceiving others all her life

Thanks
 
Last edited:
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In #1, I don't think anything has been omitted. I think 'as' here, means 'like': be ye therefore wise like serpents, and harmless like doves.

    Note this sentence is written in very old/literary/Biblical English.

    You can't omit 'as' in any of your sentences.

    (Note we always start sentences with a capital letter, and end them with a punctuation mark.)
     

    cheerfulscience

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    In #1, I don't think anything has been omitted. I think 'as' here, means 'like': be ye therefore wise like serpents, and harmless like doves.

    Note this sentence is written in very old/literary/Biblical English.

    You can't omit 'as' in any of your sentences.

    (Note we always start sentences with a capital letter, and end them with a punctuation mark.)
    The reason I thought the meaning of as in the bible passage was not "wise like serpents" and "innocent like doves" but instead "as wise as serpents" and "as innocent as doves" is because many bibles with modern English translate it the second way.

    1- Christian Standars Bible: Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.

    2- Complete Jewish Bible: Pay attention! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as prudent as snakes and as harmless as doves.

    3- Contemporary English Version: I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.

    There are other translations which use "like" instead of "as as" but can we not say "wise as serpents and innocent as doves" can be interpreted both as "as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves" and "wise like serpents and innocent like doves"; and if so, can we not say that in the context of the first interpretation, the first as is omitted?

    Thanks
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    OK, it looks as if its could have been omitted. Maybe it was acceptable to omit it when it was written. But it's not omitted nowadays (as the more modern translations seem to confirm) and so it's best avoided.

    Whatever, you need the 'as' in your sentences. It's only a teeny-weeny two-letter word - it won't take much time or effort writing it. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top