Consider the different locations of the subject, adjective, and conjunction in the following sentences.

A boy as trim as Bob should be a fast runner.

As trim a boy as Bob should be a fast runner.

The second sentence sounds unusual to me, but I am not a native speaker. Is it ungrammatical or merely a literary form of the first? If the second version is grammatical, does it change the emphasis (e.g. from the adjective to the subject)?

  • 1
    Google Books claims 17 written instances of what I would say is the "natural" sequence: A woman as beautiful as her could (marry any man she wanted), but none at all for the ("poetic inversion"?) sequence As beautiful a woman as her could (do the same). But I'd say they're both "grammatical". Mar 19, 2018 at 13:30
  • Nowadays, you don't see "trim" being used much, it sounds a bit dated to me. I think the first sentence is definitely more idiomatic. The second sounds a bit weird, it does sound slightly ungrammatical. You could also say *"A trim boy like Bob should be a fast runner"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2018 at 13:36
  • There are Google Books hits for "as beautiful a woman as"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2018 at 13:40
  • 1
    They are both grammatically fine, though the first is surely more likely.
    – BillJ
    Mar 19, 2018 at 13:43
  • BillJ has the truth of is and what was your own conclusion, supported by what research, please? Mar 19, 2018 at 21:50


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