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I will pay for the meal as often as you make the reservation.

This sentence is from a test. The task was to correct a mistake. I thought the mistake was "for the meal", it had to be "for meal" (like "for breakfast"). But the correct answer is

I will pay for the meal as long as you make the reservation.

I understand this sentence and the special usage "as long as" meaning "only if" ("I'll pay for the meal only if you make the reservation").

But I still wonder if it is really wrong to use "as often as".

I'll try to explain my confusion.

The expression "as ... as" usually used to emphasize an adjective/adverb. So for example there is the sentence "I'll wait as long as you need", here "as long as" has a literally meaning - "duration", "as much time as you need" rather than condition-meaning "only if".

So "as often as" might mean literally "every time" (is it correct?)

I'll say "hello" as often as I see/meet you == here "as often as" means "every time"

So I think the sentence

"I will pay for the meal as often as you make the reservation."

means,

"Every time you make the reservation, I'll pay for the meal".

Can it be this way? Or is the situation so odd/weird, that can't be in a real life? Is this the reason (unreality) why "as often as" can't be used in this case or is it still a grammar mistake?

3 Answers 3

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Yes it can be that way. It is grammatical, and would be understood as you suggest.

But you probably wouldn't hear a native speaker put ot that way ("as often as"). It might be more usual to say "so long as". Or, more simply "If you make the reservation, I'll pay for the meal."

In any case, your "correction" of taking out "the" was not the right fix. Yes, you say "pay for breakfast" and "pay for lunch", but you pay for A meal or for THE meal. (or cornmeal, or oatmeal). But not just "for meal".

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  • thank you! I didn't understand this with "or cornmeal, or oatmeal". Do you mean that "for meal" (without an article) means "for flour" rather than "for some food"?
    – Olga
    Feb 22, 2015 at 17:27
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We find as often as in many sentences before a verb such as like, can, need, want all specifying an unknown amount of times, but implying each and every time.

Connect to Wi-Fi as often as you want throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for a low monthly rate (source)

As often as or as many times as refers to an unknown number or frequency of times. But it does have the force of each and every time.

So, yes

I will pay for the meal as often as you make the reservation.

very much has the force of

Every/each time you make the reservation, I'll pay for the meal.

Either each occurence considered singly, or each occurence as a group taken singly: every.

Hopefully, this helps.

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Frankly, I don't like the official answer.

To me, it should be 'so long as' - a simple trade, one for the other.
You reserve, I buy.
So long as you book a table [your part of the deal] I'll pay for the food [my part of the deal]. A one-off transaction.

It could be simply re-cast as 'If you book a table, I'll pay for the meal.'

You're right to be doubtful over the alternatives.

'As long as' gives us the impression that the reservation takes some given length of time, during which you will be continually paying.
Makes no real sense.

Using 'as often as', as you mention, sets up the indefinite future that for each & every time you reserve a table, I will then pay for the meal - an unlikely proposition in real life.

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