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I saw this sentence in an article in the New Yorker:

The question is as much philosophical as it is scientific, since the answer depends on how these terms get defined.

I came up with my own sentence based on this structure:

You have got to act twice as much extravagant as usual.

Is there not much of a difference with or without "much"?

Can I say, "You are twice as much cute as Sarah"?

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It would be nice to know where you found the sentence you are asking about. Did you write it? Did some random blogger write it? William Safire? Is it: American English? British English? 19th-century English? It is difficult to evaluate a small snippet like this when wondering all the while where it is from. –  J.R. May 5 at 15:22
I added the source. –  user4550 May 6 at 0:47
I fixed the quote and citation. Please give us this information when you first ask your question! In this case it's vital because, as with several other questions you've asked, your version has a significantly different structure than the quote you've based it on. The original is grammatical and standard, but yours is not. I've retracted my close vote and down vote, but please (pretty please!) supply these details up front. Otherwise we're left guessing as to why you made the mistakes you did. –  snailplane May 6 at 2:30
@snailplane then please tell me why mine is wrong. –  user4550 May 6 at 12:31
What @snailplane said. Do not change a sentence, and simply ask if you "can say it." You'll get much better answers if you follow the model snailplane has shown you here, and the question will be more interesting to the community at large. Otherwise, you're simply asking us to proofread some random sentence. –  J.R. May 7 at 9:38

4 Answers 4

The example sentence is poorly worded. A fluent English speaker would just say, "You have got to act twice as extravagant as usual."

You might say, "Should I be extravagant?" "Oh yes. Twice as much as usual", or "Twice as extravagant as usual", but NOT "twice as much extravagant".

Likewise, "She is twice as cute as Sarah", NOT "twice as much cute".

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Or "You must act with twice as much extravagance as usual" could work, too. –  TylerH May 5 at 19:23
@TylerH True... –  Jay May 5 at 20:22
That would (correct me if I'm wrong) be changing extravagant, an adjective, to extravagance, an uncountable noun. Like water. –  AlbeyAmakiir May 5 at 23:04
I think a fluent English speaker would be more likely to say "You have got to act twice as extravagantly as usual" -- act really needs an adverb, although there are ways of parsing it with the adjective. –  digitig May 6 at 23:00

In the context you're using, "much" means "a large quantity" or "a large amount"; so the use of "much" in the sample sentences is redundant with the word "twice".

The sample sentences could be re-written:

"You have got to act twice as extravagant as usual." (remove the word "much")

"You have got to act much more extravagant than usual." ("much more" replacing "twice" as a quantity).


"You are twice as cute as Sarah"

"You are much cuter than Sarah"

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+1, but I would add that “twice as much” is fine before nouns, as in “twice as much extravagance.” –  Tyler James Young May 5 at 19:51

@user4550 you're swapping adjectives and nouns, and "much" applies differently.

"is as much" literally means "has an equal amount of", so the original sentence means "half philosophical and half scientific". It's fine as originally written.

When "much" is applied to a noun it is a VAGUE QUANTIFIER, you can substitute "a large amount". It applies to uncountable nouns (like "money"); countable nouns (like "dollars") would use "many" instead of "much".

When "much" is referencing an adjective it is an AMPLIFIER, and an additional modifier is needed (like "more" or "less", or changing "cute" to "cuter") to indicate the direction being amplified. "Much" actually applies to the modifier.

With the adjective you can say: Twice as extravagant. More extravagant. Much more extravagant. You cannot say "a large amount of extravagant" but you can say "a large amount MORE extravagant"

Changing the adjective to a noun you can say: Twice the extravagance. More extravagance. Much more extravagance. Twice as much extravagance. you can even say "with much extravagance". a large amount of extravagance.

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The original sentence you found in the article means that the question is equally philosophical and scientific. To whatever extent the question is philosophical, it is also scientific.

However, adding "much" into the sentence doesn't change its meaning significantly. They could have also said:

The question is as philosophical as it is scientific, since the answer depends on how these terms get defined.

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