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a. As good as he is at playing the guitar, his brother is even better.

b. As good as he is at playing the guitar, his brother is bad.

Let us say we are talking about two brother who are musicians.

In (a), one brother is good at playing the guitar and the other one is better.

In (b), one brother is good at playing the guitar and the other one is bad.

Are the sentences (a) and (b) grammatically correct?

Do they make sense?

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    A is fine. But look at this: His brother is as bad at playing the guitar as he is good at it. Or: He's as good at playing the guitar as his brother is bad.
    – Lambie
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:36

3 Answers 3

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There is nothing wrong with (a).

For (b), your statement sounds awkward and a better way would be:

While he is good at playing the guitar, his brother is bad.

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B draws a comparison, without which the brother isn't intrinsically bad.

With as good as he is at playing the guitar, his brother is bad in comparison.

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The first sentence is grammatically correct but it sounds a little awkward. If a second person (the brother) is to be introduced, the word "he" has to be emphasized:

"As good as HE is at playing the guitar, his brother is even better."

That sounds unnatural. Usually the focus is elsewhere:

"As good as he IS at playing the guitar, he used to be (or he could be) better."

"As good as he is at PLAYING the guitar, he can't tune it."

"As good as he is at playing the GUITAR he's even better on piano."

Your second sentence - "As good as he is at playing the guitar, his brother is bad" - isn't idiomatic. It needs to end with a comparative, such as 'better'. (Or, alternatively, "As bad as he is...his brother is worse.") It would then be similar to your first sentence, and my comments above would apply.

It's unusual to introduce a second person into this construction. We would probably say, "While/Whilst/Although he is good at playing the guitar, his brother is even better" or "...his brother is bad/awful/Lil Wayne."

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    I don't agree OP's second example isn't idiomatic. Consider Listen to me, daughter! As much as you might want to marry your boyfriend, it ain't gonna happen! That's the same basic construction. Both "complements" are straightforward assertions (with no comparative element), which effectively treat the preceding as... as construction as equivalent to Even though [he is very good at playing the guitar | you might want to marry your boyfriend very much]. Dec 19, 2021 at 15:45
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    The first one is fine, but situational. If it answers someone saying, e.g., "Surely, he is the best at playing guitar!" it is entirely natural. It feels unnatural only when it's not a conversational transition from him to his brother.
    – fectin
    Dec 19, 2021 at 17:01
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    @FumbleFingers As much as you might want to marry your boyfriend, I don't want to marry your boyfriend.
    – minseong
    Dec 19, 2021 at 19:34
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    @Fumble Fingers: Your As much as you might want to marry your boyfriend, it ain't gonna happen! sounds to me like a Much as you might want to marry your boyfriend, it ain't gonna happen! with As tacked - misleadingly - on the front. I think the as... as construction has an inbuilt comparative element, with the stresses I mentioned pointing out the thing we're comparing. In OP's 2nd example which word would you stress? It would have to be "he": "As good as he is at playing the guitar, his brother is bad" It sounds awkward to me. Happy to have my heels dug out though. Dec 19, 2021 at 21:57
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    @OldBrixtonian: I don't accept that including or not including initial as determines whether or not the assertion that follows should include an explicit "comparison". But I will just mention that (for me, at least) it's perfectly idiomatic to replace the second as by though (but not if the first as is present) with OP's "guitar" example, but that version somehow seems far less natural with my example: Much though you might want to marry your boyfriend, it ain't gonna happen! Dec 20, 2021 at 15:01

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