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  1. #21
    Tarheel's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    This variant is slightly different in meaning from the being one. To my ear, John can implies that John has in fact lifted it, while the being variant doesn't. Of course, I might be just hard of hearing. I'm just talking about your particular example. I understand that if someone replies 'I can' to 'Can you help me?', it doesn't imply this person has helped the one who asks before.
    Two things. One, that is rather confusing (to me). Two, if somebody says he can do something that does not imply anything. He is simply saying it.

    P.S. You are, unfortunately, misusing the word imply.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 17-Oct-2020 at 07:50. Reason: fixing typo
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  2. #22
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    Two, if somebody says he can do something that does not imply anything. He is simply saying it.
    I can't agree. We never simply say anything. But that's a different topic.
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  3. #23
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    But 'Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily' is definitely wrong because both clauses must talk about one and the same person, right? Without 'being as', the first clause requires the second one to talk about John too.
    Hello again, Alexey:

    Let me give this another shot. As you can see, I have deleted my previous answer to your follow-up question. After massaging this topic in my mind for the better part of the afternoon, I realized that it was inaccurate of me to represent "As John is strong" as a viable paraphrase of the circumstantial interpretation of "Strong as John is." I also disagree with my affirmative answer to your question about whether both clauses must share the same subject. Consider the following sentences:

    (1) Wet as the floor is, people could very easily slip on it.
    (2) Wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it.

    In neither of those sentences does the main clause have the same subject as the "as"-clause. In the "as"-clauses, the subject is "the floor"; in the main clauses, the subjects are "people" and "there," respectively. (The logical subject of [2] is "little risk of people slipping on it," which is also not the same as "the floor.") This shows that the subject need not be the same, on either interpretation of the "as"-clause. Also, note that if you preceded (1) with "Being (as)," the sentence would imply that people are wet!

    Here is how I would now paraphrase the two sentences. Each has an "as"-clause that receives a different interpretation from that of the other.

    (1') With the floor being as wet as it is, people could very easily slip on it. (circumstantial interpretation)
    (2') As wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it. (concessive/contrastive interpretation)

    The second paraphrase (the paraphrase of the concessive/contrastive type) is borrowed from Quirk et al., who point out that clauses like "Wet as the floor is" or "Strong as John is" can be regarded as the "as . . . as . . ." construction with the first "as" omitted. They do not give a paraphrase of the circumstantial interpretation. Earlier, I conveniently supposed that it could be like an "as"-clause of reason ("As John is strong" / "As the floor is wet"), but now I see that that paraphrase doesn't work at all.

    The circumstantial reading of such "as"-clauses, which I believe is properly matched in meaning by the "With [subject] being as [adjective] as [subject] is" construction, "as" indicates the extent or degree to which the subject has the property denoted by the adjective. In the sentence "Strong as John is, he can lift it easily," "as" can be replaced by "to the extent that" -- on the circumstantial reading of the "as"-clause. The sentence says that, because John is strong to the extent that he is, he can lift it easily.

  4. #24
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    2a and 3a are not good. The (as) adjective + as + subject + be pattern is used primarily when the following clause is contrastive, as it is in 1a. For that reason, they don't work.
    I just want to make it clear that when I said 2a and 3a don't work, I was thinking like a teacher. I don't deny of course that the structure is used with the circumstantial meaning. My aim was to focus Alexey86's attention on the contrastive use, which I believe is far more useful since it is in my judgement far more common. Pedagogically speaking, I don't think the circumstantial use is useful enough to teach. What's more, as I said, I think replacing as with though is much more effective in achieving the contrast.

  5. #25
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I just want to make it clear that when I said 2a and 3a don't work, I was thinking like a teacher. I don't deny of course that the structure is used with the circumstantial meaning. My aim was to focus Alexey86's attention on the contrastive use, which I believe is far more useful since it is in my judgement far more common. Pedagogically speaking, I don't think the circumstantial use is useful enough to teach. What's more, as I said, I think replacing as with though is much more effective in achieving the contrast.
    In some cases, it can be hard to tell whether it is circumstantial or contrastive meaning that is intended. Consider this example:

    "Hideous and obscure as it all was, it held Mrs Grose briefly silent; . . . ."

    - Henry James, The Turn of the Screw,
    from Chapter 21
    Was Mrs. Grose held briefly silent because of (the extent of) the hideousness and obscurity of it all, or in spite of the hideousness and obscurity of it all? One's interpretation will depend on whether one perceives hideousness and obscurity as things that generally make one silent or as things that generally make one quite vocal.

  6. #26
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    The word "as" is tricky at times, isn't it?
    It might not be relevant to this discussion, but there's a sentence the construction of which I have difficulty explaining to my students:

    Living as I do in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.

  7. #27
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Living as I do in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.
    The sense there is causative.

    (I read Phaedrus' 'Mrs Grose' example above as causative too. I can't really get the contrastive reading very well.)

  8. #28
    Alexey86 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post

    (1) Wet as the floor is, people could very easily slip on it.
    (2) Wet as the floor is, there is little risk of people slipping on it.

    In neither of those sentences does the main clause have the same subject as the "as"-clause.
    (1) and (2) make perfect sense to me because it refers anaphoricaly. Anaphora sets up a semantic bond between the clauses. Maybe this is more important than whether a sentence has one or more subjects. 'Strong as John is, Bill can lift it easily' has no anaphora, that's why it comes across as a random combination of clauses and doesn't make much sense without 'being as'.
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  9. #29
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    It might not be relevant to this discussion, but there's a sentence the construction of which I have difficulty explaining to my students:

    Living as I do in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.
    That use of as, as I see it, is much different. Semantically, it is the type of as we find in sentences like Daniel LaRusso does karate as Mr. Miyagi did, or Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or in the military command As you were!, which tells troops to return to the posture they were in prior to the entrance of someone of superior rank. As signifies manner in all these examples and may be paraphrased "in the manner that."

    Syntactically, however, as I do in your example functions as a parenthetical and should really be set off with commas:

    Living, as I do, in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors.
    Living in such a remote place, as I do, I seldom have visitors.

    Another option is to make Living as I do the main idea, in which case in such a remote place would become the parenthetical element: Living as I do, in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors. In either case, as has nothing to do with the living-phrase's being a clause of reason, which it would be even if as I do were not there: Living in such a remote place, I seldom have visitors. As I do simply comments on the reality of the situation. Contrast:

    Living, as I wish I did, in such a remote place, I would seldom have visitors.

  10. #30
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Re: Strong as he is (meanings)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexey86 View Post
    The (as) adjective + as + subject + be pattern confuses me sometimes. Are the pairs below correct and equivalent in meaning?

    1a Strong as he is, he can't lift it.
    1b He can't lift it despite his strength.

    2a Strong as he is, he can lift it.
    2b He can lift it due to his strength.

    3a Strong as he is, no one can beat him.
    3b No one can beat him because of his strength.

    4a Strong as he is, he should train every day.
    4b No matter how strong he is, he should train every day.

    (All examples are mine.)
    They all work. That phrasing is used more often in the sense of 1 and 3.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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