3

Which one is the correct expression:

  1. as good as possible
  2. as best as possible

Both were suggested to be used in the following sentence:

The activity has been performed as good/best as possible.

Spontaneously, I would have immediately said the first, but my friend that studies English is convinced of the second.

  • Both phrases are in everyday use. It entirely depends what you want to say. You will need to suggest some possible sentences. – WS2 Feb 12 '14 at 13:54
  • I cannot remember having heard the second, but since 1900 it is in use: goo.gl/oKKCaA – mplungjan Feb 12 '14 at 14:14
  • @WS2 I can't remember ever having heard the second expression. Could you give an example where each would be appropriate? – Murch Feb 12 '14 at 14:49
  • 'It is a hopeless situation, you will have to do as best as possible'. I agree it might be more usual to say '...as best as you possibly can'. – WS2 Feb 12 '14 at 22:27
  • To my (Canadian, native English speaker) ear, "as best as possible" is not correct usage. It might be used in a novel, in the mouth of someone being portrayed as ill-educated. – Arlie Stephens Mar 11 '16 at 0:23
5

I think it just comes down to whether the context is adjectival...

1: We want the result to be as good as possible. (modifies the noun)

...or adverbial...

2: So we will work together as best as possible. (modifies the verb)

Personally I'd rather use as best we can in #2, but you can follow the link there for many examples.

EDIT: As Peter points out, strictly speaking the "correct" adverbial form in #2 is well, not best.

  • 2
    Or: So we will work together as well as possible. You can't use good there because it's not an adverb, but well works. And I think that it's the only choice that prescriptionist grammarians (or English test setters) would approve. – Peter Shor Feb 12 '14 at 21:28
  • @Peter Shor: I think you are almost certainly right so far as adherence to strict grammatical correctness is concerned. I interpreted the question more as "In the specified context, which of these two options is more appropriate?". Much as I dislike the usage, adverbial best is at least tolerable, whereas adjectival good is a complete no-no. And much as I do happen to like "as best we can", I've no doubt it's a bit dialectal/folksy. I admit the (obvious, in retrospect) possibility of well never crossed my mind, but I think I'd better edit it in now! – FumbleFingers Feb 12 '14 at 21:46
  • Maybe this is why "as best as possible" seemed so odd to me, I too, didn't think of "as well as possible" which I'd prefer. Thanks for the clarification. – Murch Feb 12 '14 at 22:12
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    It's clear that a lot of people are using "as best as possible" as an adverb (see Ngram), so I don't think I can say its completely wrong. And I agree it sounds a lot better than as good as possible for an adverb. But well sounds better. – Peter Shor Feb 13 '14 at 0:15
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    @Peter, Murch: It's worth noting the counts... Adjectival is as good as possible:43,000 / is as best as possible:8. Adverbial try as best as possible:1200 / try as good as possible:3 – FumbleFingers Feb 13 '14 at 2:20
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Best is the superlative of "good" when it functions adjectivally and the superlative of "well" when used adverbially. Superlatives cannot be modified by words such as "as". Using the superlative form takes a comparison to the highest degree possible. That is to say - it is a singular and discreet level which cannot be graduated. Most superlatives in English are formed by the addition of "est" to the adjective and the nonsense of modifying a superlative with "as" can be seen in the following sentences: He built it as tallest as he could. The grass was as greenest as you could imagine. I write my sentences as smartest as I can. You are either doing something THE BEST you can or you are not. If you are buying a new phone it is either THE BEST or it is not. That's how it is.

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