Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

so extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period; of or relating to the period before the biblical flood

This is from Webster. I know "so as to do...", but what is this "so~as doing~"? is this correct?

share|improve this question
It's just a (slightly non-standard, but not "ugly") device to avoid the unquestionably ugly so extremely old as to seem to belong to an earlier period. –  FumbleFingers Aug 29 at 13:51
@FumbleFingers Perhaps not "ugly", but certainly awkward - and to my mind unnecessary. –  StoneyB Aug 29 at 14:08
@StoneyB: Well, the notion that "ugly" is more extreme than "awkward" is POB anyway (I probably wouldn't have thought that). Your rephrasing using it is one of the relatively few ways of making an "elegant" definition that includes all the semantically relevant elements, but I can see why Webster wouldn't like it. He can't even put [of an object or person] before the definition, because antediluvian can modify such a wide range of "nouns" (including things like ideas and civilisations), so it's hard to say exactly what it is. –  FumbleFingers Aug 29 at 14:50

1 Answer 1

This is a variant of the so ADJ that [clause] comparative construction:

... so angry that he slammed the door ...

Here that is replaced with as because [clause] is expressed with a participle, a non-finite form, rather than a finite verb. (As FumbleFingers points out, the same substitution may be made when the verb is an infinitive.) It may be paraphrased

... so extremely old that it seems to belong to an earlier period ...

This is a very rare use; it occurs here only because when M-W defines an adjective or other modifier it takes great pains to avoid mentioning the entity which is modified—in this case, it. That is to my mind a very silly constraint, and I think you can safely leave this awkward construction out of your own repertory.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.