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I have to say I have an issue with the phrase "as best I can". After all, "best" is the superlative form of "well" and does not belong in the comparative construction "as... as" - not to mention that the second "as", for some reason, is nowhere to be found. This, in my view, is akin to saying: "I would be glad to help you as most I can" instead of "as much as I can" ("most" being the superlative form of "much"). Is this simply a widespread error (much like the now-ubiquitous and "the reason... is because") or has it become an idiom - and if so, when did this happen? The easy way out, of course, is to avoid the construction entirely - which is what I usually find myself doing - but I was wondering if anybody out there had similar qualms about using this phrase.

marked as duplicate by tchrist, TimLymington, Drew, ScotM, Community Apr 19 '15 at 6:19

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I personally don't see a distinctiom between "as best I can" and "the best I can" used in the context of everyday speech. After reading posts off the link provided by javaNoobs, 3 of the members from that site came to the conclusion that "as best" can be used as an idiom whose usage as such is well established by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. From what I gathered, using "as best I can" in place of "the best I can" is common usage nowadays even if both of these phrases shouldn't have equal meanings on the micro-level where each word is broken down to it's basic grammatical usage. Since "as best I can" is being used as an idiom it's meaning does not have to rely strictly on it's component parts. My guess on why this may be is because "as best I can" has a smoother quicker transition of "as" rather than the word "the" when speaking (in my opinion) which may be why it is used in the place of "the best I can". I say this because that is the reason why in my own speech I swap the two interchangeably without intending to change the meaning. "As" is a more convenient and melodic sounding transition. But this last part on the reason "why" "as best" is a common idiom is purely of my own speculation.

"idiom: [A]n expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements. - quoted from one of the posts on the link provided by JavaNoobs"



There is a difference:

  • 'as best I can' implies that the person can do something better than anybody else when trying his or her best.

  • 'the best I can' implies person's effort within his or her own ability without reference to other people's ability.

It is not an error at all, it is a slightly different meaning.

And it is not the superlative form of 'as well as I can'.

Here is a discussion with this example:

If I say "I'll do the best I can", I'm not comparing myself to anyone else, but if I say "I'll do it, as best I can", that's not the same thing. When I say "I'll do it as best I can", it's the same as saying "as I can, best" which means "I'll do it as [only] I can, better than anyone".

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