Does this sentence "as were all things Thanos" means "as if all things were Thanos?" If so, is it common to reverse "were" while omit "if"? Could anyone help with its grammar or structure? Greatly appreciated if more examples could be given, many thanks.

Here is the sentence in the context:

With Spider-Man safely earthbound, Iron Man attached himself to the ship and began using lasers from his gauntlet to cut into the hull. A piece flew out and Tony hoisted himself in. Looking around, it was like nothing he had seen before, yet strangely familiar, as were all things Thanos. Ghosts floating in his mind for six years ever since he first made contact during the climax of the Battle of New York. Pressing a button, his boots activated stealth mode and he silently began to examine the invading ship.

the avengers 3

1 Answer 1


I had to look up Thanos to understand the usage. For anyone else who doesn't know, he's a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics (hence, a natural enemy of superhero Spiderman).

Standard English syntax would require an adjective / adjectival phrase after the noun phrase all things. In a typical context such as All things bright and beautiful, we can interpret the syntax as a "reduced" version of All things which are bright and beautiful.

But in OP's context, Thanos is a proper noun, not an adjective, so it's a slightly stylisted / non-standard construction which we can understand as a reduced version of all things concerning Thanos. That's to say everything to do with Thanos, everything about him was simultaneously both "previously unseen" (unfamiliar) and familiar (it's up to the reader to imagine for himself exactly what that might mean or feel like).

  • then why use "as were" in this sentence? is it common to use this way? do you mean "as were" here equals the structure " which are"?
    – user86301
    Jun 26, 2019 at 13:20
  • is "were" here a subjunctive? why not say "as all things were Thanos"
    – user86301
    Jun 26, 2019 at 13:23
  • No. That's just another "stylised" usage, inverting the natural subject + verb sequence for English from as all things Thanos were (where were is just Simple Past). Compare "stylised" He's tired, as are we [all] with "standard" He's tired, as we [all] are. Jun 26, 2019 at 13:26
  • It's were rather than are because the context is a past tense narrative. See immediately preceding Tony hoisted himself in (not hoists). Jun 26, 2019 at 13:31
  • isn't "so" should be used in your example: "He's tired, so are we all". ? I am so puzzled by the use of "as" here.
    – user86301
    Jun 26, 2019 at 13:33

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