Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Soon they were high enough so that looking down was best not considered. There was nothing below but yawning blackness, nothing above but moon and stars.

The author meant that you shouldn't have looked down because of this white-knuckle height. I understand that this can be paraphrased: it was best not to consider it

But what is the grammar behind this structure? I've found that there is a structure "(had) best do something". You can use it in the past like in this example: You had best have closed that door. But I couldn't find the phrase used in the book (was best not considered).

When thinking on it some time, I came up with some more phrases which are similar to the one in the book:

1.It was best not to be considered
2.It was best not to consider it

The 2nd variant sounds natural to me. The first seems wrong because to be considered means some obligation. (You must not look down!)

But what about the variant in the book? Can anyone explain it to me in terms of grammar?

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    You had best is normally used in the present tense - 'You had best close that door'. The expression you quote is simply a shorter way of saying 'It was best not to consider looking down'. Jul 8, 2020 at 7:25

2 Answers 2


1a It was best {not considered}. It was = pronoun + to be; best (adjective);{Not = adverb; considered = adjective} = unconsidered = adjective.

1b. It was best not to be considered – to be considered = pronoun + passive infinitive. The implied agent is “by you/him/one, etc”.

  1. It was best [for you/him/one, etc] not to consider it – to consider is the active infinitive. [For you, etc.] is an adverbial modifier = “in your case”, and modifies “best”

Compare “It was best {not considered}” with

The porridge was best hot

The porridge was best (adjective) {[when it was] hot [porridge].} adverbial clause modifying "best".


The examples in the question are using "best" with forms of the verb "consider", while Martin is using [considered] / [not considered] as an adjective.

From Kate's comment, "You had best close that door" refers to the verb - to the action of closing it.

If we wanted to refer to an adjective, we could say "That door is best closed", or borrowing Martin's style and tense, "That door was best [not open]".

  • Thanks for your response. As for your last sentence, why is it not "That door was best not opened"?
    – artek
    Jul 8, 2020 at 8:14
  • @artek - That's valid too, but it refers to the verb (the action of opening the door was a bad thing), while Martin is using "best not considered" to describe the action of looking downward. We could substitute adjectives like "foolish" or "reckless" into the quote : "so that looking down was [adjective]". Jul 8, 2020 at 8:25
  • Can I ask you what is the grammar rule behind this? I want to read more on that topic. Thanks :)
    – artek
    Jul 8, 2020 at 8:30
  • @artek - "Considered" (or not) is an Attributive Verb. Jul 8, 2020 at 8:44
  • @artek - "Deverbal adjective" on the same link is more precise. Jul 8, 2020 at 8:57

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.