I am so sorry if this is too wordy, but I have to show them.

Most of them are explained by a friend, and I have tried to bold parts that I cannot get. I have problem with the nature of the problems below. what are them? what is the point? could you please show me the concept or solution of the problem more simply?


I think we have come across a language problem. Compare the following sentences.

  • 1 The princess was as beautiful as the sun.
  • 2 The manufacture of pottery seems to have begun there as early as AD 40. - BNC as early as, 1278

In 1 we have a normal comparison. The princess's beauty is compared with the beauty of the sun and found equal. In 2 we have something else. I have known such formulas ever since my student days and intuitively I can handle them, but I have never tried to clarify the difference between 1 and 2.

At first glance we see that in 1 we have the verb to be and a be-complement (as beautiful as the sun). In 2 "as early as AD 40" is a when-indication. "in AD 40" would do it as well, but "as early as AD 40" contains an additional information. Here I feel I have to think about how to formulate this additional information.

I think it contains a kind of surprise, one would have thought that manufacture of pottery began at a much later time. Or one could say the idea of the "earliness" is emphasized.

In any case 2 does not contain a normal formula of comparison, but a special idiomatic formula used for when-indications or indications of distance. There are more of these formulas: as early as, as soon as, as far as, as far back as and I think one can find some more.

End of quote

Any comment or feed-back would greatly be appreciated

  • 2
    Nima it isn't correct that you transfer my posts from one forum to another without asking me.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 20:30
  • 1
    oh I am so sorry
    – nima
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 20:46
  • 1
    Well, excuse accepted. I hope you won't continue this habit. If you want to copy a post of others and transfer it somewhere you should ask the poster, and if the poster gives his permission you should state where this post is from and who posted it.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


There's no difference between the uses. It may help you to think of the comparative constructions as based on an underlying coordination of two clauses, most of which has been mandatorily deleted.

She is as beautiful as the sun is beautiful.
Manufacture began at a date which is as early as AD 40 is early.

  • 1
    Speaking as a native speaker, your examples establish that there is a difference. The second is not accurate. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 12:38
  • @WhatRoughBeast In what respect do you find it inaccurate? I am happy to address any objection. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 14:27

The difference is that "beautiful" is not quantifiable, but "early" is.

In the phrase "as X as Y", Y serves to specify the degree or quality of X. Beauty does not have a numeric representation, so one uses examples to illustrate just how beautiful X is; in this case "as the sun". "Early", on the other hand, is quantifiable, and in this case it can be specified as (approximately or specifically, it depends on context) 40 AD.

Another example of a quantifiable specification is "an elephant can be as heavy as 3 tons", while an unquantifiable specification is "as soft as a woman's cheek".

  • Astonishing how complicated one can explain language. Example 1 is for me: She was extremely beautiful. 2 is "unexpectedly early".
    – rogermue
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 13:44

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