You can get your money back in as little as 1 day!

It is a sentence I heard from an advertisement. Sadly, I cannot tell if this is what the advertisement said, for I did not pay much attention to this till now.

If you see the "as little as 1 day" part, you can easily infer that it is the object of the preposition "in", meaning "as little as 1 day" should be a noun. However, I find that hard to believe. First, let me make this clear that I do not have any specific, credible information that can back up my own theory.

But I think that, as this "as little as 1 day" is an adjective phrase that has to compare 1 day with some other period of time, a noun should be present before "as little as 1 day" in this form.

You can get your money back in some period of time as little as 1 day!

Well, it doesn't sound brilliant but seems to convey the meaning.

I know that not putting noun before the adjective phrase "as little as 1 day" is fine, but it feels strange, when I think logically, to perceive an adjective phrase as the object of a preposition (in this case, in).

So, what type of grammar rule or anything of sort licenses this?

  • In response to your comment below, this site says "An example of a three-word as-as adverb is as little as." So yes, "as little as" is a modifier. ;-)
    – RJH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


To elaborate slightly on your hypothetical sentence, it could be "you can get your money back in some period of time which is as little as one day".

You're correct in interpreting this as an instance of ellipsis, with "some period of time which is" being implied but left out.

Alternatively, you can view it as "you can get your money back in one day", with "as little as" inserted as a modifier, or even with "something as little as" notionally inserted, but with "something" left out by ellipsis.

("As little as" is an adverb modifying the adjective "one", which in turn modifies the noun "day".)

In any event, yes, "as little as one day" is operating as a noun phrase within an prepositional phrase.

  • Thank you! But I don't think "as little as" acting as a modifier is possible.
    – sooeithdk
    Dec 3, 2015 at 0:18
  • Edited to show evidence. ;-)
    – RJH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 19:18
  • Hm.... I always thought that "as" is an adverb and "little" is an adverb with the last "as" acting like the preposition. Or is it just an adverbial phrase wholly?
    – sooeithdk
    Dec 3, 2015 at 22:25
  • I read the website, and it definitely considers "as little as" an adverb. So does it mean that there was no ellipsis?
    – sooeithdk
    Dec 3, 2015 at 22:27
  • I think there's still ellipsis, from a broader viewpoint, of the actual thing that is set in comparison to one day and is supposedly as little as one day. It's interesting to me that "as little as one day" literally only means "possibly as little as one day", and not "definitely the same small period of time as one day and absolutely no more time than that". It's somewhat ironic, I think, because it seems to imply a short period of time but there's no upper limit.
    – RJH
    Dec 4, 2015 at 3:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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