Note: I originally posited this on Writing, but someone told me to post it here because the question is grammatical in nature and not about the writing itself.

I am writing a scholarship essay and one of my sentences is "Although both of my parents have bachelor’s degrees now, they were not as well educated or stably employed when I was growing up." There are probably other things wrong with this sentence, but when I asked someone to read it over she suggested that I use "so" instead of "as". I looked it up, and I found that generally negative comparisons use "so" (but maybe can use as?), so it would be correct in this context, but one does not necessarily sound better than the other and I do not know which is more grammatically correct.

Bonus: she also suggested replacing "or stably employed" with "with stable employment". What about "and not stably employed." Thoughts?

  • 1
    Most people would expect an "as-adjective-as" comparative construction in a sentence like this. I think I would put "that" in place of "as" . i.e. "they were not (that) well educated or stably employed when I was growing up." – Cascabel Jan 30 at 18:39
  • Call us both pedantic, but my teacher asserted it was She is not so tall as he is but She is as tall as he is. This ELL question suggests more books support this, so we may have a bigger issue at hand than which is more idiomatic. Neither my teacher nor I am a native speaker of English, but he is well read. The rule may be outdated, or, as I started off saying, people might just have stopped caring. – niamulbengali Jan 30 at 18:56
  • So...use "as"? This is for a STEM scholarship by the way, so probably the last thing on the committee's mind will be "so" or "as". – englishisconfusing Jan 30 at 19:02
  • I would re-order it. "Although both of my parents have bachelor’s degrees now, when I was growing up they were less well educated and lacked stable employment." I would move "now" to before "have" and I'd leave out "of", but it's a matter of taste. – Old Brixtonian Jan 30 at 19:20
  • Thank you for the suggestion. That is way better than the original phrasing. – englishisconfusing Jan 30 at 19:27

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