In this Stack Overflow answer, an editor changed my sentence:

Not as simply as that, unfortunately.


Not as simple as that, unfortunately.

The original question was:

Is there any way to get the following to work?

I used the adverb form because I wanted to convey ‘it is possible, although not in a manner as simple as the one described in your question’. I understand that the adjective form used by the editor is correct, but is the adverb form incorrect or unusual?

  • 1
    I think the editor was wrong to change your text, but I can see how he might have misconstrued it, because it is so far from the question. – Colin Fine Nov 10 '11 at 12:17
  • I think grammatically speaking the question doesn't really connect with either answer, and to be honest I can't think of a reasonably short way to paraphrase either. The best I can come up with is that the editor's version stands in for "[The way to get it to work is] not as simple as [the way it's currently implemented]", which converts to "[It's] not as simple as [that]". Any paraphrasing using the word simply would probably be much more convoluted. – FumbleFingers Nov 10 '11 at 12:59
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    @FumbleFingers Hmm, I see what you mean. Would ‘You can’t solve it as simply as you are expecting’ be correct? I do agree that ‘It’s not as simple as that’ is probably what the editor meant and likely the best choice. – user14698 Nov 10 '11 at 16:13
  • @FumbleFingers: I don't know what you mean. "Is there any way to get xxx to work?" "Not as simply as that" seems to me to be grammatical, consequential, and natural. – Colin Fine Nov 11 '11 at 12:08
  • @Colin: With simply, I don't see what "that" refers back to in the original question, so grammatically it falls down for me. With simple, I just assume an omitted "It's" at the start of the reply, standing in for the way to get the following to work. I'm guessing whoever editted OP's original text was thinking along much the same lines. – FumbleFingers Nov 11 '11 at 12:38

Both are fine. Using simple means

Not as simple as the method

while using simply means

Not as simply as how the method works.

  • I think both are at least "sloppy". But at least the editor's version is easily salvaged by adding/assuming "It's" in front. – FumbleFingers Nov 10 '11 at 13:01

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