I am seven times as old as your were when I was old as you are.

I was as good as you are.

I will go as well as him.

I was eight times as good as you are.

go as fast as you can.

Except for the 3rd, I wonder why the as is required in these kinds of sentence or sentences. Why can't I say, I was good as you are. How is the as acting actually?

Reconstructions:In the first, the as can be replaced by in and in the third, I was good like you are.

  • 1
    Ignoring the fact that it should be you not your in the first example, I have to say that's an incredibly confusing was of saying I am seven times as old as you [are]. – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '16 at 18:02
  • Note that because I was good as you are is "non-idiomatic", it risks being [mis]interpreted as You are good. I am also good. – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '16 at 18:05
  • We are comparing degrees of goodness. I have same amount of goodness as you have. amount of goodness == as good – djna Sep 4 '16 at 19:43
  • @FumbleFingers No, it's a bit more complicated than that. Let A := “me”, B := “you”. A_is = 7 * B_was; B_was = B_is – (A_is – [A_was = B_is]) => A_is = 7/4 * B_is. Note that it says “.. when I was [as] old as you are [now].” – user3395 Sep 4 '16 at 20:24
  • @AnubhavSingh Where is the construction "as [noun] as" in these sentences? I see only "as [adj] as" and "as [adv] as." In the first sentence you propose this: I am seven times in old... A preposition cannot take an adjective as its object. This construction is quite simple. See this link. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 4 '16 at 21:35

Using “as anything as” compares the value of two things, rather than separately giving either of them an independent value.

The price of a virtuous woman might be ‘as rubies’, ‘that of rubies’, or ‘as that of rubies’ but none of those puts her price ‘far above rubies.’

All three give ‘the value of rubies’ to Mrs Virtue; they make her ‘as valuable as rubies’. Mrs Virtue might ‘make a present’ for her beloved Solomon; she could not ‘make a present to’ anyone. Strictly, she might ‘give a present to’ or ‘make a presentation.’ To ‘make a presentation to’ would involve using a slide projector, not giving a prize.

To chop out each 1st ‘as’ would kill all the other examples and leave ‘I will go well as him’ lying injured.

Whether it’s actually clever or funny, ‘I am seven times as old…’ is an algebraic conundrum, not a linguistic distortion. It’s purpose is to be confusing and it’s meaning is not ‘I am seven times as old as you.’

‘I was as good as you are’ indicates that in the past I was as good as you now are. ‘The past’ could be 50 years or 10 minutes.

‘I was good as you are’ says nothing about how good I am now. It might well be interpreted as ‘I was once good and you are now good’ with no measure except that neither was bad. The function of the second ‘as’ would be to indicate one being better or both being the same.

‘I will go as well as him’ indicates two people traveling together with no question of their going having value, because of the nature of the verb. With the same construction ‘I will race as well as him’ would not distinguish between running at the same time, whoever won, and running equally fast, perhaps in different time trials.

‘I will go well as him’ indicates perhaps an actor preparing to play a part.

‘I was eight times as good as you are’ is no different in form from ‘I was as good as you are’ even though it contains a specific value.

‘Go as fast as you can’ indicates a comparison of intended speed against possible speed.

‘Go fast as you can’ indicates the speaker is a learner attempting to understand the language.

‘Go fast’ is a simple imperative.

  • By the way, the reason I've wiped my brains out trying to solve "I am seven times as old as your were when I was old as you are…" is that as stated, it can't be solved. The sum of their ages was left out. B gger! – Robbie Goodwin Sep 19 '16 at 22:04

The answer to your question is "Because that is how English does it".

Different languages have their own patterns. English uses "as X as Y" - in the negative we can alternatively use "so": "not as X as Y" or "not so X as Y", but this is not common in positive sentences.

For an example of how another language does it: literary Welsh has a special form of the adjective known as the "equative" that is used in this kind of construction, in addition to the comparative and superlative found in English and many other languages. So hen = 'old', henach = 'older', but mor hened â = 'as old as'

  • That's an interesting point about so not being common in positive sentences. I was minded to think particularly not in more recent times, so I did an NGram for not so/as bad as. Apparently usage has massively changed in the last century, but I don't think it was ever normal to say I speak French so well as I speak English (or so badly either). – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '16 at 23:59

Let's chop out each 1st as and see what happens:

I am seven times old as you were when I was old as you are.

Probably equivalent, but so much more confusing -- a comma after were might help. The 2nd "old" lacks a preceding "as", and could be replaced with "young". ("I am seven times old as you were, when I was young as you are.") That works, but having four instances of as is more musical, which makes for a more memorable riddle.

I was good as you are.

Implies the speaker may no longer be good.

I will go well as him.

The speaker contemplates identity theft.

I was eight times good as you are.

Implies the speaker is even better now.

go fast as you can.

More imperative.

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