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The fog lifts as suddenly as it had descended.

The sentence has been taken from a story. I think the verb "lifts" is incorrect. And I'd like to know whether "as suddenly as" is the same as "as soon as".

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    NO! - as soon as means the fog lifted immediately after it descended, whereas as suddenly as means the fog both descended and lifted very rapidly (but it may have hung around for days in between coming and going). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 26 '16 at 17:40
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The verb "lift" is often associated with "fog" - this is not an error. Example:

"I think we should wait until the fog lifts before we leave on our trip."

The word "suddenly" is not the same as "as soon as."

"Suddenly" implies that it was unexpected, or that it happened very quickly (meaning that once it started lifting, it did not take long to disappear). It's possible that the fog came down, stayed for a while, and then left later (but very quickly).

"As soon as" means that when the fog settled or descended, it immediately lifted. This means that it the fog did not stay at all. It came down, and promptly left.


Note: While the sentence is grammatically correct, I think it would sound more natural to native speakers if the two verbs shared the same tense, i.e.

"The fog lifted as suddenly as it had descended."

or

"The fog lifts as suddenly as it descends."

  • There is no need for the verb tenses to agree here. These are two separate clauses being linked together by a comparison. – Era Feb 26 '16 at 16:51
  • @Era No matter how hard I try to put that sentence (as is) in context, it still doesn't sound right to me. I can't imagine ever hearing someone say that. Could you give me an example where you would say that, using the same structure but different verbs with a different subject and comparison? – cccg03 Feb 26 '16 at 17:01
  • The reason it sounds odd to you is that it's much more common to say "the fog lifted". Imagine however that you're listening to someone tell a story. We were driving into the mountains and suddenly we can't see 2 feet in front of the car. We go about another 100 meters, and the fog lifts as suddenly as it descended. It descended in the past, but it's lifting right now. – ColleenV Feb 26 '16 at 17:06
  • @CaseyJamesGarland e.g. "I will defeat you as easily as I defeated your father." – Era Feb 26 '16 at 17:07
  • @ColleenV Thank you for that explanation - that makes more sense to me. – cccg03 Feb 26 '16 at 17:10
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Using lift with fog like this is quite common, and not a mistake. In this usage, to lift is intransitive and refers to the fog dissipating.

As suddenly means at the same rate and equally unexpected. This type of comparison can be used in abstract terms, e.g.

He fired the gun as suddenly as a bolt of lightning.

This sentence doesn't imply that there was lightning present when the gun was fired. It's merely drawing a comparison between how sudden the gunshot was and how sudden a lightning strike is. (See the dictionary definition of sudden for more info about what that means.)

On the other hand, as soon as means at the same time or immediately after. It relates the times at which two events occurred.

As soon as I took a bow, the audience erupted into applause.

So, in your example, what happened is that the fog suddenly descended, then, at an unspecified later time, the fog suddenly lifted.

  • According to you, I think you should write like the following: The fog lifts as suddenly as it descended. – thein lwin Feb 26 '16 at 22:29
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'Lifts' where means the fog disappears. Its often associated with fog and mist or other veils.

'Suddenly' refers more to a short length of time, as in quickly or unexpectedly.

'As soon as' refers to the single point in time of, eg: He ran inside as soon as the rain started. means at the point in time where the rain started, he ran inside at the same time, or very shortly after

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