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Part 1: Making Comparisons with As...As

Part 1: Making Comparisons with As...As
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Suppose an animal shelter in your city had invited people to meet some animals to see if they wanted to make an adoption.

You and a friend both love dogs, so you visit the shelter and go straight to the dog area. You hold and play with some of the dogs. You soon realize you like two of them equally: Benji and Cody. Your friend asks what you think of the two animals. You say this:

I like them both. Benji is as playful as Cody.

When the things we are comparing are equal in some way, we can use the word “as.” Notice that “as” appears twice in the comparison.

On today’s Everyday Grammar, we will talk about using “as” to compare qualities and to compare how something is done.

Qualities: as + adjective + as

Let’s start with qualities.

When we compare equal qualities of two people, places or things, we use the comparative structure as + adjective + as. Listen to the dog example again:

I like them both. Benji is as playful as Cody.

The speaker uses the adjective “playful” to express the equal quality of the two animals.

The sentence structure goes like this: subject + BE verb + as + adjective + as…followed by a noun or noun phrase.

In the example sentence, the subject is “Benji.” The verb BE becomes the singular present form “is.” Then there is the comparison part: “as playful as.” Finally, there is the noun “Cody.”

Now, suppose you are at a restaurant. You are trying several different dishes. You think two dishes are equally tasty. Listen for the same structure in this sentence comparing foods:

The pasta dish is as tasty as the rice dish.

Here, the subject is “the pasta dish,” followed by the BE verb “is.” Then comes the comparison “as tasty as” and then the noun phrase “the rice dish.”

Unequal qualities

But what if the two dogs you met were not equally playful? Or what if you did not think the two dishes were equally tasty? How could you express these ideas using “as”?

In unequal “as” comparisons about the qualities of people, places or things, we use the word “not.” Listen to the negative form and take note of where “not” appears:

Benji is not as playful as Cody.

Notice that “not” comes immediately after the BE verb.

Listen for the same structure in this next example:

The pasta dish is not as tasty as the rice dish.

Again, the word “not” comes right after the BE verb.

How it’s done: as + adverb + as

Next, let’s talk about comparing how things are done. We can use “as” to compare actions. When we do this, we use an adverb -- not an adjective. The structure as + adverb + as shows a comparison between actions that are equal in some way.

Listen for the comparison in this next example:

Benji runs as fast as Cody.

Here, two actions are being compared: Benji’s running and Cody’s running. In the example, the word “fast” acts as an adverb.

Take note of the sentence structure: subject + verb, then as + adverb + as, then a noun or noun phrase. Listen for the same structure in this next example:

We enjoyed the pasta dish as much as the rice dish.

Unequal actions

But, what if one of the dogs runs faster than the other dog? Or, what if you did not enjoy the two dishes equally? How could you use express these ideas using the “as” structure?

To express unequal comparisons between actions, the auxiliary verb “do” is needed. The negative form would be “do not” “does not” or the past tense “did not.”

Take note of where these words appear in this example:

We did not enjoy the pasta dish as much as the rice dish.

Notice that the negative “did not” appears immediately after the subject “We.”

In the real world, a native English speaker would likely use a contraction, such as “didn’t,” rather than “did not,” like this:

We did not enjoy the pasta dish as much as the rice dish.

Now, let’s hear the negative form about the dogs.

Benji does not run as fast as Cody.

Notice the negative “does not” comes after the subject “Benji.” Again, a native speaker would be likely to use the contraction "doesn't" in this example.

What can you do?

Today, you have heard a lot about comparisons of equality with “as.” Try to look and listen for such comparisons in English-language songs, movies or television shows. You can also look for them in VOA Learning English materials.

In time, the sentence structure will begin to feel more natural, and you can practice using it your own speaking and writing.

Join us again soon when we will look at other kinds of comparisons using “as.”

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Common Mistakes

Before you practice, it is a good idea to be aware of common mistakes.

Some English learners mix “as” comparisons with other kinds of comparisons. For example, they might say, “The pasta is as tastier as the rice.” We do not use -er adjectives like “tastier” in “as” comparisons.

Another common mistake is using the word “less” “more” or “than.” For instance, these are incorrect: “The pasta is less tasty as the rice” or “The pasta is not as tasty than the rice.”

If you make these mistakes, do not worry. Most people will still understand your meaning. And, with time and practice, comparisons will get easier!


Words in This Story

adoption - n. to take an animal legally as your own

twice - adv. two times

phrase - n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

dish - n. Food that is prepared in a particular way

negative - adj. expressing dislike or refusal

contraction - n. a short form of a word or word group that is made by leaving out a sound or letter

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