I see one sentence in my book:

It is easy to see that A is as simple as B is complicated.

I know the subject of the sentence is "it" that is "A is as simple as B is complicated", but how should I understand "A is as simple as B is complicated"? If "A is as simple as B", I know that is to say A is simple as B is. Why can the "is complicated" can be added to the end? What is the subject and object of the "A is as simple as B is complicated"? Does he/she want to say A and B are simple or complicated?

1 Answer 1


If we say that A is as adjective1 as B is adjective2, then we are saying that the degree (great or small) to which A is adjective1 is the same degree to which B is adjective2.

A is as simple as B is complicated (B is very complicated, A is very simple).

Ice is as cold as fire is hot (ice is very cold and fire is very hot).

Tom is as short as Mary is tall (Mary is tall, Tom is short).

The qualities that are of similar degree do not have to be 'opposite' in some way:

Mary is as musical as her brother is literary.

A well known way of saying someone is honest is to say that they are 'as honest as the day is long' (because a day is long).

We can even talk about comparable degrees of qualities in the same person or thing:

Michael is as handsome as he is clever.

My wife is as talented as she is beautiful.

  • 1
    Your final example is potentially important, because although we often do use this construction in the highly specific form X is as [ADJ] as Y is [OPPOSITE of ADJ], we also use it a lot in contexts where the two adjectives have no direct relationship (there's no connection between honest and long apart from in the specific context where the "great honesty" of one referent is likened to the "great length" of the other referent). Jan 26 at 18:27

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