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Using the expression as (much) ... as, I want to express that the quality or degree of someone's beauty is about the same as that of her intelligence. I'd like to know if it is correct to say either:

  1. She is as smart as she is beautiful.
  2. She is as much smart as she is beautiful.
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As much is just a general case; the much isn't used if there's another adjective for as to bind. That is, the second one is incorrect. – John Lawler Feb 28 '13 at 16:38
From BNC: "The story is as much inspirational as sad." Does the rule "the much isn't used if there's another adjective for as to bind" apply here? – Sherlock Feb 28 '13 at 17:06
How about "isn't often used"? There are options for everything; the idea that one structure is "correct" and all others are "incorrect" is a gradeschool oversimplification. – John Lawler Feb 28 '13 at 17:31
Isn't "as smart as beautiful" a way to go? – yo' Feb 28 '13 at 18:29
@tohecz, that's a possibility. My thought is that “as smart as she is beautiful” is slightly preferable to “as smart as beautiful”; that choice is a question of style, not grammar. – jwpat7 Feb 28 '13 at 18:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted

As John Lawler noted in a comment, the second form (with much) is incorrect. The first form, “She is as smart as she is beautiful”, is grammatically correct, and does express the thought that her beauty is about the same as that of her intelligence (assuming there is some way to compare them). Note that the sentence does not say she is smart or beautiful, merely that those qualities adhere to her in the same degree.

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There is a strong implication that she is both smart and beautiful (ie that the interpretation she is both smart and beautiful is intended) - this is the way the expression is normally used and should thus normally be understood. It is Grouchoesque to pick the logical rather than the conventional interpretation. Just like it would be Cooperesque to pick the logical, literal interpretation of he's all ears. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '13 at 17:04
@EdwinAshworth, yes, frequently the intent may be to imply both smart and beautiful. But many people speak sarcastically. – jwpat7 Feb 28 '13 at 17:09

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