Even as legalistic an institution as the EU ought to be able to find a way around snags such as this.

Can anyone restructure the sentence to simpler ones as it is not clear for me? For example, where is the subject? Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    An institution as legalistic as the EU... The adjective is simply fronted in the phrase for emphasis, since with even the high degree of that trait is the idea. Even as small an insect as an ant can deliver a nasty bite. A very small insect, one as small as an ant, can deliver a nasty bite. The grammatical subjects are headed by nouns institution and insect.
    – TimR
    Mar 4, 2019 at 14:10
  • Typically one might expect that the way an institution gets around snags might be skirting the edges of legality. But the snag being discussed here is deemed to be avoidable even by the EU, which is a very legalistic institution- one that seeks to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
    – Jim
    Mar 4, 2019 at 16:19
  • The two uses of "as" above are totally independent of each other. Analyze the pieces independently.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 4, 2019 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


The EU is a legalistic institution. One would expect a legalistic institution to fall subject to this snag. One would not expect the EU to fall subject to this snag. (Perhaps because it is not sufficiently legalistic.)


Here's a sentence without the transposition:

Even an institution as legalistic as the EU ought to be able to find a way around snags such as this.

"An institution" is the grammatical subject of the verb phrase "ought to be able to find." "As legalistic ... as the EU" modifies how institution should be understood. As a comparison, the first item (an adjective) describes the institution (it's legalistic), and the second item provides a noun phrase of comparison: the EU.

Meanwhile, the adverb even emphasizes that the result is a surprise. One may think that the EU, being so legalistic, would be unable to work its way around a snag. However, even it may do so.

By using the comparison to describe the grammatical subject, the noun phrase after the second "as" is vitally important to the sentence. Logically, "the EU" as an entity ought to be able to find a way around snags even though it's such a legalistic institution.

Here's a different example:

Even a dog as sluggish as Macy could outrun that rabbit.

Grammatically a dog is the subject. Via the comparison, Macy could also outrun the rabbit, even though she is a sluggish dog. Even Macy could do it!

Even if the subject is placed within the comparison, the meaning is the same. Only the emphasis changes:

As fast a dog as Macy could break the world record.

  • 1
    @Araucaria Absolutely right. I'll adjust it. Mar 4, 2019 at 21:47

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