While reading the book the following sentence made me interested. The usage of "as" is like the form "as....as" but not the same. + The comparison is made by a noun phrase(no difference) not adjectives or adverbs. I wonder whether this is a common usage or this is a special usage author chose?

It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound "as" the difference between the sick and the well.(Great Gatsby)


In this case using "so...as" means the same as using "as...as" except with emphasis on the magnitude of the adjective (profound).

In general, "as adjective as" draws attention to the sameness of the two nouns (specifically concerning the adjective) in a neutral tone while "so adjective as" provides emphasis to the adjective.

The sentence can be reconstructed as "It occurred to me that, between men, the difference in intelligence or race was not so profound as the difference between the sick and the well."


"so adjective" is an alternative form of "as adjective" where the context is negative.

  • Could you explain it in detail please? – Talha Özden Apr 8 '19 at 21:03
  • I think I can reconstruct the sentence like this ? " The difference between men is not so profound as the difference between the sick and the well" – Talha Özden Apr 8 '19 at 21:09
  • Not quite, @TalhaÖzden. There is no difference ... so profound as ... = There is no difference ... [which is] as profound as... It is not saying that some particular difference is not as profound, but that there is no difference which is as profound. – Colin Fine Apr 9 '19 at 9:26

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