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I was reading Great Chain of Being by Arthur O. Lovejoy and I came across a curious usage of "as...as". The text is that:

I have often been exasperated by finding precise or paraphrases where I desiderated the actual language of the authors whose ideas were under consideration; and my rule has therefore been to give the words of relevant texts as fully as was consistent with reasonable brevity.

I have two questions here:

Firstly, "as...as" is normally used to compare relevant situations. So that two sentences before and after "as...as" should be relevant like in these examples;

  • Henry is acting as crazily as he always does.

  • Venessa is as pretty as she was in the college

  • The woman looked as beautiful as she did in the photograph

The remarkable point is that the adjective or adverb between "as" and "as" should be a common thing in both sentences, that is, in the first one I could say like that "Henry is acting crazily and he always acts crazily", in the second one "Venessa is pretty and she was pretty in the college". It applies for the third one.

But in the quotation, I couldn't say that "my rule has therefore been to give the words of relevant texts fully and was consistent fully". So may you help me understand this, please?

Secondly, why there is no subject in the clause after the second "as", I mean in the "as was consistent" where is the subject?

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Are you familiar with constructions like as quickly as possible?

The author is quoting 'relevant texts' as fully (in as much detail) as he can without making his book too long (keeping it 'reasonably brief').

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  • Thank you so much for your answer Kate. Yes I am familiar with it. But I think this is different from what you said. Because in mine there is a clause after second as. But in yours, there isn't. I want to understand it in terms of grammar. – grammerian Nov 13 '20 at 9:51
  • As fully as... consistent with... brevity corresponds to as quickly as possible. I was trying to show you what the author means. – Kate Bunting Nov 13 '20 at 10:10
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    To run as quickly as possible is a short form of ...as quickly as it is possible to run. We might add 'safely' and say, ...as quickly as it is possible to run safely. Or ...as quickly as is consistent with reasonable safety. As is consistent with means (roughly) whilst being. Hence "quickly whilst being safe". Or, in your text, "fully whilst being brief." – Old Brixtonian Nov 13 '20 at 10:52
  • So according to your anwer Old Brixtonian, "as soon as possible" is in fact "as soon as it is possible". Is that right? If it is, where did get this knowledge? Could you suggest more resources on this topic? – grammerian Nov 13 '20 at 11:55
  • @grammerian [Sorry - I missed this.] Where did I get this knowledge? I imbibed it with my mother's milk! The only resource I can find is not very helpful but it does give a variety of examples. – Old Brixtonian Mar 5 at 2:20

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