According to grammar it is correct to write: we are as glad as it can be but I've often heart and seen written: we are glad as can be. Is this latter correct to say and to write?

Thanks a lot! Sonia

  • "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" – Hot Licks Dec 4 '18 at 12:52

Both forms are used, but in different circumstances.

If you use "it", that refers back to an "it", so it is appropriate for examples like

I'll make it as easy as it can be.

With feelings, like "glad", this doesn't make sense, because things that are "it" can't (usually) be glad, so the idiom is "as glad as can be".

But "as can be" can also be used where "as it can be" would be possible. The iWeb corpus has 682 instances of "as happy as can be", but it also has 518 of "as easy as can be".

In total, the iWeb corpus has about as many instances of "as ADJ as can be" and "as "ADJ as it can be"; but in the first case "Happy" leads, while it does not occur at all in the second. ("Glad" is not in either, which supports my feeling that it is not idiomatic, unlike "as happy as can be". I'm not sure why this is).

The grammar of "as can be" is not obvious: I suggest treating it as an idiom, which can't be analysed.


Your first sentence isn't correct; "we" should be used instead of "it":

We are as glad as we can be.


We are as glad as can be.

is also correct, but it's a little more loose and colloquial-sounding. The "can be" is simply (but perhaps confusingly) a modal auxilliary "can" with an intransitive "be".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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