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What will be the correct choice in the following sentence

_______ he is kept away from me at all times, I am ready to come home again

Options are

  1. As much as
  2. Insofar as

I was given the following question in my exam. But I don't understand the meaning of this sentence, I think its wrong.

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  • Is there any context given in the exam for that question? Neither answer makes much sense to me. It looks as if the simple word "if" might fit there, and if that is the meaning, then "insofar as" would be a poor substitute, and "as much as" wouldn't fit at all. Jun 23, 2020 at 16:54
  • It's a test and the options can't be changed.
    – LawrenceC
    Jun 23, 2020 at 18:26
  • So long as .... would have been my answer. None of the 2 options really convince me. Sounds like someone who hears their assailant has been issued with a restrictive order
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 23, 2020 at 18:29

2 Answers 2

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Since this is an exam question with only one correct answer, we have to try out the options and determine which sentence is correct syntactically, grammatically and pragmatically.

Option 1 - As much as he is kept away from me at all times, I am ready to come home again.

There are no grammar errors here, and no syntax errors either. The structure of the sentence is sound, and there are no broken rules of grammar. But from a pragmatic standpoint, it makes little sense. Again, since this is a test, the best strategy is not to waste time trying to winkle out a meaning; the next step should be to try the other option. If that doesn't make sense either, then you can go back and compare them.

Option 2 - Insofar as he is kept away from me at all times, I am ready to come home again.

Again, no grammar errors here, and no syntax errors. Pragmatically it makes sense: "To the extent that [or as long as, or because] he is [or will be] kept away from me, I'm willing to come home." To put it another more negative way, "Unless you guarantee that he won't be allowed to interact with me, I won't come home."

I would say that the example sentence was a poor one (although it is not wrong per se). The fact that it confused at least one student shows that to some degree. But in the interest of brevity I won't belabor the point further. I hope what I provided answers your question.

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According to Google:

  • insofar as means to the extent that,

  • and as much as means even though.

Looking at the first option, an extent means "the area covered by something" - it's compatible with the question "how much?"

But--"he is kept away from me at all times" is not something compatible with the question "how much", that's a hard binary "yes or no" situation (either he is kept away from me at all times or he is not, there is no "inbetween").

Even though will work with a "yes or no" type of condition.

Even though (as much as) the cup is in the cabinet, X.

The cup is either there or not. No inbetween. The above makes sense.

To the extent that (insofar as) the cup is in the cabinet, X.

This is a little jarring because it implies the cup could be in a state between being in the cabinet and not being in the cabinet. If the context is witchcraft or magic, or something else weird, this could work, but not in a normal situation.

I'm going to go with as much as, insofar as much as it doesn't sound right to me.

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