It is strange that it is tough for someone as brilliant as you.

Who is this someone here? Is it some other person who is as brilliant as the person in the sentence?


Is it the same person in the sentence and it is just telling that "it is strange that it is tough for you, because you are so brilliant"? Am I right? If not, then please tell me what is the correct interpretation of the above sentence.

  • 2
    The someone is the person being spoken to, you are correct in your interpretation of the sentence meaning. – Peter May 14 '16 at 1:51
  • Please look at the following sentence and tell me which sentence is correct? 1) "I play viola well for someone having taught themselves" and 2) "I play viola well for someone having taught myself" Thank you. – Policewala May 14 '16 at 2:13
  • 1
    It would be ideal to post your comment as another question. – shin May 14 '16 at 2:20
  • 1
    In my opinion neither viola sentence is correct: "having" doesn't sound right. I'd prefer "I play viola well considering I taught myself", or "I play viola well for someone who taught themself." – nnnnnn May 14 '16 at 3:16

Your second guess is correct! In that sentence, that "someone" refers to you. Your example sentence can also be phrased as

"It is strange that it is tough for a brilliant person like you."

In the case of

"someone as [adjective] as [a person]"


"a/an [adjective] person like [a person]"

the "someone" or "a person" in brackets always refers to the person being talked about in that conversation.

  • Your answer is correct, but I don't know that the rephrasing really clarifies anything. It still raises the question "who is that person?". – Harris May 16 '16 at 17:55
  • You're completely right... I should probably delete that part. :\ – Mikiko May 17 '16 at 0:05
  • @HarrisWeinstein My second editing done. Did it make my answer better...? If it's still bad, please let me know. – Mikiko May 17 '16 at 0:27
  • That's a decent breakdown! – Harris May 17 '16 at 0:51
  • Learning from you guys as I'm answering these questions. Thanks for pointing out the unclarity! – Mikiko May 17 '16 at 1:03

I suggest that "someone" in this context is actually a non-specific entity, NOT the person being spoken to.

What you are saying is that when you compare the person you are talking to with other people who have similar qualities (experience, intelligence, etc.), it seems that the task shouldn't be difficult.

So, the "someone" is not anybody specifically. It is a generic, stereotypical idea that you are being compared against.


"Someone as ____ as (this specific person)" is a common idiom in English. Here's how it works.

A non-specific word…

The word "someone" means an unknown or unspecified person. It's literally just a short version of "some one", that is, "some person". For example, in this sentence:

I need to find someone who can fix my roof.

the speaker doesn't have any specific person in mind. The speaker is just looking for a person who can fill a certain role: the role of "person who can fix my roof".

You can also partly specify an unknown person by comparing them to a specific, known person with "as":

I need to find a doctor as knowledgeable as my previous doctor.

The speaker is hoping to find a doctor—who is currently unknown. That doctor must meet a certain qualification: being as knowledgeable as the speaker's previous doctor, who is known.

…used to emphasize a quality of a specific person

Your example sentence uses the non-specific word "someone" and the "as ____ as" comparison to emphasize the listener's brilliance. The sentence as a whole means the same as:

Because you are so brilliant, it is strange that it is tough for you.


I would have expected that for anyone as brilliant as you, it would not be tough.

The wording with "someone" defines an abstract category of person, like the description of the doctor who hasn't been found yet. This category is defined by the listener's level of brilliance: "everyone as brilliant as you". The effect of this wording is to emphasize the listener's brilliance by blurring all of the listener's other qualities. It creates a perspective of considering the listener from a distance, as just one of many people, mostly unknown, who are equally brilliant.

There are two main reasons why people choose the "someone" wording:

  1. It's an easy way to refer to the listener's level of brilliance when explaining something. Most other ways of expressing the same thought in English are rather clumsy.

  2. The speaker might want to suggest that some other quality of the listener is interfering with the listener's brilliance. Other, equally brilliant people would probably find it easy, so why not you? In this case, the "someone" who is you is meant to call attention to you, the whole person, not just your brilliance. (This is not as common as the first reason.)

Here's another example of the idiom, from Dramatic Spaces by Jennifer Low (slightly edited):

With practice, all of the actors became adept at running up and down the ramp, but I imagine it was especially scary for someone as tall as John Lithgow.

The idiom means "it was especially scary for John Lithgow, because he is so tall." The idiom uses the non-specific word "someone" to emphasize that John Lithgow is very tall, and that his unusual height makes it scary for him to run up and down the ramp.

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