Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As smart as you may be, there are always difficult problems making you in trouble.

In this sentence does "As smart as you may be" mean "No matter how smart you may be"?

So, the first as is a conjunction?

If that means however, then should it be just However or "No matter how"?

share|improve this question
1  
Yes it means, no matter how smart. The sentence should be: No matter how smart you may be there will always be difficult problems that will cause you trouble. –  spiceyokooko Jan 23 '13 at 15:50
    
I get it. Thanks!! –  Anox Jan 23 '13 at 16:13
2  
@Anox: I don't think it's necessarily helpful to interpret the first instance of the word "as" as meaning anything specific, since it would very often be omitted by native speakers without affecting the sense at all. It's really just there to complement the second "as". But I think there's a slight semantic difference between as/[nothing] and however/no matter how, in that the former implicitly acknowledges that you are in fact smart (just not "smart enough"). The alternatives don't necessarily carry that implication (though they can). –  FumbleFingers Jan 23 '13 at 17:31
    
...re the last four words in your sentence, they are very "unidiomatic". Native speakers would probably say something like "to trouble you". –  FumbleFingers Jan 23 '13 at 17:34
1  
@Anox: You have my deepest sympathy! I suggested to trouble you because in many contexts, to get in/into trouble can come across as somewhat "childish" ("If you do that, you'll be in trouble with Mum/Dad/the boss/etc."). To be troubled (or to be caused trouble) don't have those connotations, so they're probably better choices - but of course it's largely the fact that those "non-childish" versions aren't so easy to learn that causes us to think they're more appropriate for adults. I'm afraid that's just one more reason why non-native speakers can often get the "tone" wrong! –  FumbleFingers Jan 23 '13 at 18:28
show 2 more comments

1 Answer 1

It depends on the meaning you are trying to convey. I can see contexts where one variant (As smart as...) is correct, and another context where the other (However smart ...) is.

If the person you are are addressing really is smart (in their view and, more importantly, yours) but has done or said something stupid, it would make more sense to say 'As smart as you may be, you can at times be a real idiot.' The 'may' is this context actually means 'are'. [Of course, politeness would prevent you from ever calling someone an idiot ... at least, to their face!]

If you don't know whether they really are smart, then it would be more appropriate to say 'However smart you may be, I am smarter. [Not that a polite person would ever be so boastful.]

share|improve this answer
    
Helpful! thanks! –  Anox Jan 24 '13 at 17:47
    
The more logical form of your first example (which is also OP's) would be Smart as you may be... Perhaps as smart is a hypercorrection? –  TimLymington Jan 24 '13 at 22:57
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.