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“Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew.”
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

What’s the meaning of the highlighted part?

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2 Answers 2

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Harry's mum was a good witch and his dad was a good wizard.

Yer mum and dad were a good witch an’ wizard.

How good were they? They were as good as any witch or wizard I ever knew.

Yer mum and dad were as good a witch an’ wizard as I ever knew.

These constructions are maybe, possibly, just a little bit too colloquial for, say, an exceptionally dry academic journal; but anywhere else they’re fine.

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    @Listenever Ah, that's a bit different question. I think most people would take that ever to extend Hagrid's reference up to the 'present' in which Hagrid is speaking; it's almost a fixed phrase which sits outside the ordinary narrative reference. But you're right that he does not make that explicit, as he would by saying as I've ever known. I don't think Hagrid is that careful a speaker! Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 11:57
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    @StoneyB: If Hagrid was a careful speaker, I think he might be more likely to have said "...as good a witch an’ wizard as ever I knew" (purely on the grounds of stylistic elegance, not grammar as such! :) Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 12:37
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    @FumbleFingers Yah, me too; I kept typing it as that. Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 13:29
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    @Listenever Let me pseudo-mathematicalize: mum and dad were members of the set {witches and wizards}. Hagrid compares mum and dad to every other [member of that set] whom he ever knew, and concludes that mum and dad were as good as any such [other member] (and, presumably, better than some). Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 15:22
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    @Listenever “He is as great a scientist as any that ever lived.” would mean he is just as great as any scientist that ever lived, and (to steal StoneyB's phrasing!) presumably better than some of them.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 16:34
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They have used superlative degree.

We use superlative degree when we compare more than two persons or things with one another.

It means that (Harry's) Mom and Dad were the best witch and wizard the person had ever know.

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  • Deepika you're right.
    – Sudhir
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 11:41
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    Not quite. It means not that they were better than all others but that no others were better than they: they were among the best, they were as good as the best. Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 11:50

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