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I have seen the following phrases "so as not to" and "so (adjective) as not to" in articles before, but I don't know how to use these two phrase correctly. Any advice or insight would be very helpful.

I have provided two example below. Do they mean different things? (I know that "stiffly" is not an adjective here)

  1. He held himself stiffly so as not to shrink from the noise.

  2. He held himself so stiffly as not to shrink from the noise.

1 Answer 1

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The only problem is that (1) needs a comma between stiffly and so. With that fix both are correct but have slightly different meanings:

1) He held himself stiffly, because he didn't want to shrink from the noise.

2) He held himself stiffly enough to not shrink from the noise.

Sentence (1) explains what is being attempted.
Sentence (2) explains what is being accomplished.

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