On a message board where we discuss English grammar in our native language (which is Japanese), there is a discussion about how to interpret this sentence:

You'll be frustrated with anything less than a desktop operating system and as much processing power as you can get.

This is obviously originally coming from Engadget.

My read is that "in order not to be frustrated with a tablet computer the following two have to be satisfied:

  1. It has a desktop OS, and
  2. It has as much processing power as you can get

Do you think there are any other ways to read the sentence?

Some people there are trying to make other interpretations through a (to me weirdly) complicated analysis of the grammatical structure of the sentence. The issue is whether the latter part "as much as ..." can be connected with "anything less than" and say "anything less than as much as ...".

Probably the writing style of this online magazine article is a bit too casual to deserve such serious discussion, but I'd appreciate any thoughts and comments.

  • 1
    I fail to see how operating systems have a hierarchy. Personally, I find many desktop operating systems bloated and sluggish. I think the author of the quote has an inbuilt bias that is not made explicit. May 4, 2018 at 9:58
  • That's exactly my thought. This guy assumes that non-desktop OS are "lesser"...
    – KTDon
    May 4, 2018 at 12:47
  • I think "desktop OS" is not the best way to communicate it, but I think what the authors are trying to do is distinguish full-featured desktop systems from mobile phone and tablet operating systems that have limited functionality. There are certainly poorly designed desktop operating systems, but few people would argue that you can do everything on a mobile phone that you could do on a desktop computer.
    – J. Taylor
    May 4, 2018 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


Saying "You'll be frustrated with anything less than X." means that X is the minimum for you to not be frustrated. So for instance, if I say "I will be frustrated with anything less than a full glass of water.", this means that if I get a half glass of water, I am going to be frustrated because a half glass is less than a full glass.

So your reading of the example sentence is correct. It says that you will be frustrated if you get either of the following two things:

(a) an operating system that is less functional than a desktop operating system

(b) a computer that doesn't have a lot of processing power.

That is, you need BOTH a powerful computer and a full-featured operating system to be satisfied. I can't see any other way to interpret the sentence.

  • 3
    "You'll be frustrated with anything less than [...] as much processing power as you can get" doesn't feel 'clean' to me, but the meaning is clear.
    – Deolater
    May 4, 2018 at 12:58
  • Yeah, I think the example sentence was poorly written. I would have just avoided the "anything less than" construction altogether, and just said "You'll be frustrated if you don't have a desktop OS and a lot of processing power."
    – J. Taylor
    May 4, 2018 at 15:47

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