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He is so angry as to react to his emotion through retaliation.

I would like to know whether the above sentence is grammatically correct. Is this an equative rather than an infinitive construction?

  • The sentence has the pattern: Subject + 'be' + so + adjective + as + to-infinitive. It's a variation of the pattern: Subject + 'be' adjective + as + to-infinitive. You can read the part [so ... as to] as [... enough] which is less formal. – Damkerng T. Feb 19 '14 at 23:23
  • Since my previous edit has not been accepted, please, at least accept the spelling correction, it should be grammatically. – Nico Feb 20 '14 at 11:28
  • @Damkerng T, thank you. I appreciate your analyze which is clearly expressed and formulated. I understand it. However, it doesn’t answer my last question. Could you please try to develop your comment into an answer? – Lucian Sava Feb 24 '14 at 8:15
  • @LucianSava Frankly, the reason that I posted it as a comment instead of as an answer was because I wasn't (and still ain't) sure about the definitions of an "equative" and "infinitive construction". It has the word "as" but I'm not sure if it's correct to say that it's an equative (related Wikipedia pages Equative and Equative_case don't help much) ... – Damkerng T. Feb 24 '14 at 12:03
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    ... or to say that it's an "infinitive construction". (I think we have a general idea of "what an infinitive is", but not necessarily exactly the same idea. And though it's obvious that your sentence has the pattern to-infinitive, I'm not sure if it can be called an "infinitive construction". To use the term safely, I need at least one grammar textbook that clearly defines the term, and I couldn't find one. Perhaps others could clarify the usages of these terms.) – Damkerng T. Feb 24 '14 at 12:07
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+50

It is grammatically correct. It uses "as" + to-infinitive as in that the result is (so clearly guilty as to leave no doubt).

If you take an equative sentence to be one that

"assert[s] that two referring expression[s] have the same referent",

then it does not seem to fit. An equative sentence would be more like "He who is so angry as to retaliate is my brother" (he and my brother are the same referent).

I'm not sure if the following points are relevant to your confusion, but I will include them for the sake of completion.

"as to" (+ infinitive) is classed as a preposition meaning as for, about (at a loss as to how to explain the error) or according to, by (graded as to size and color);

"so as to" (+ infinitive) is an idiom meaning in order to (Mail your package early so as to ensure its timely arrival).

None of these definitions apply to the usage in the example sentence. It is possible to consider that the speaker is misusing "as to" or believes that the qualifying "so" in "so angry" is part of "so as to"; either way, recognising that the construction is "as + to-infinitive" clears this confusion.

The sentence could also be constructed as:

"Angry enough to retaliate" or "So angry that he retaliated."

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Some information regarding the usage of "as to":

With prepositions, as has the general sense of as far as, so far as, and thus restricts or specially defines the reference of the preposition; e.g. as against, as between. as anent, as concerning, as for, {as to}, as touching (Fr. quant à), have all the sense of ‘as it regards, so far as it concerns, with respect or reference to.’ [Source - Oxford]

And so I think the usage of "as to" in the original sentence is correct, though I feel it's somewhat extra wording.

Original sentence means -

"He is so angry as to X"

where X = react to his emotion through retaliation

There are few examples I can site here, which appeared in some magazines -

  1. About half past six this morning, while I was still in bed, Mr. McDonald -- who seems to be an early riser -- called me by telephone. He was so angry as to be almost incoherent, but I finally gathered that he had heard from the radio man of my purchase of the sound equipment. [From Saturday Evening Post]

  2. For those who will see the film in the United States, where it opened commercial engagements on Friday after playing in the New York Film Festival, it may seem impossible that a movie about a couple of Beijing Opera stars (played by Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi) who struggle to remain true to art and to each other during five decades of war, revolution and political upheaval could make anyone so angry as to ban it. [From New York Times]

  3. The round table was of wrought iron and topped with glass; it was noteworthy for that glass, for it was more than once and rather more than several times, I am inclined to think, that my stepfather would grow so angry as to bring some object down on the glass top, shattering it, thus giving us to know how we had forced him out of control. [From Harpers Magazine]

  • @Man_From_IndiaWhen we refer to adjectives, [generally, equatives]( seattlecentral.edu/faculty/dloos/Grammar/comparisons/…) are formed by using as + adjective + as. When we refer to sentence construction we have to [Note that the term equative is also sometimes applied to comparative-like constructions in which the degrees compared are identical rather than distinct: e.g., John is as stupid as he is fat.]( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equative) – Lucian Sava Feb 26 '14 at 7:18
  • In our example:’He is so angry as to react to his emotion through retaliation’ the pattern is: X is so angry as Y Where Y = to react to his emotion through retaliation If it was X is as angry as Y, would result that X equals Y and, consequently, the construction would be equative. What would be in our case: X is so angry as Y? Can we say here that X equals Y? To conclude that the construction is equative too? – Lucian Sava Feb 26 '14 at 7:18
  • "as + adjective + as" is a different construction altogether. And it has nothing to do with your original post. Example - 1. Mr. A is very angry. 2. Mr. B is also angry. 3. Both are equally angry about their neighbour. 4. Mr. A is as angry as Mr. B about their neighbour. 5. He is as good as his friend as to playing cards. (I am not sure about this sentence, but for now, it seems like it's okey. I prefer to reword it like this - He is as good as his friend when it comes to playing cards/ He is as good as his friend in playing cards) – Man_From_India Feb 26 '14 at 8:53
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He is so angry as to react to his emotion through retaliation.

The sentence appears to be grammatically correct. The statement being made is a statement of equation ('x is y') though it contains an infinitive ('to react') that is used as an adjective.

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