Can anybody tell that which one of the following is correct?

  • He is not as good as his father.
  • He is not so good as his father.

When conveying some negative sense, I have always seen/watched (movies, dramas, etc.) people using "not as good as" whereas, in many places, I have seen them using "not so" instead of "not as".

Image is taken from thefreedictionary.com

Image is taken from thefreedictionary.com

  • 2
    Are you suggesting that one of them must not be correct? "Not as/so...as" are both perfectly correct and equivalent in meaning, and not only as/so long as it's a negation. – MorganFR Dec 13 '16 at 13:54
  • @MorganFR Yes. Since both of them convey exactly the same meaning, I think that one of them would be 'grammatically' incorrect. Like the word "dunno" is perfectly correct. Anyone would understand what this mean and will not consider it a mistake however, 'grammatically', it is incorrect. ( I couldn't think of any other example, lol ^_^ ) So, now, since both of these "not as X as" and "not so X as" convey the same meaning, I think that one has to be wrong 'grammatically'. Though, I am not sure about it ^_^ – Hassan Ashas Dec 14 '16 at 10:42
  • Just because they have the same meaning doesn't mean one of them is necessarily wrong. They are both correct, even grammatically. One of them is used more often, that's about it. – MorganFR Dec 14 '16 at 11:27

There are actually two separate idioms that have similar meanings:

No building is as tall as the Burj Khalifa

"As X as" is used for comparison between two entities, to show that one side of the comparison has a greater quality of X than the other side. Meanwhile:

That building is not so tall.

Not so X is used to moderate the value of the quality of X, to suggest it is less X than expected.

The expression *so X as" is kind of a mix-up of these two. It functions similarly to "as X as" but is much less frequent. It isn't wrong, but in my opinion it feels like a colloquialism and not formal grammar.

To answer your question: both are correct, and while "so X as" is somewhat informal, it should be OK to use in any context.

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  • Thank you for replying. Actually, my question is, which one would be 'grammatically' correct? Both of them? I am of the opinion that both of them convey exactly the same meaning and therefore, one of them should be incorrect. Or am I wrong there? Thank you :) – Hassan Ashas Dec 14 '16 at 10:39
  • @HassanAshas this falls into a gray area, with a colloquialism ("not so X as" that has become common enough that it can be considered grammatically correct. My personal opinion is that both are grammatically correct, but others may feel differently. Please be aware that English, as a "bastard" language, often has multiple ways to say the same thing, all of which can be grammatically correct. Plus of course the constantly evolving slang. – Andrew Dec 14 '16 at 16:24

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