As serious as the problem was, no one paid enough attention to it.

I want the above sentence to mean: although the problem was very serious, no one paid enough attention to it.

Does the structure “as + adjective + as + noun + to be” like in the above sentence has that meaning?

  • 2
    Yes, it does. ,,,
    – Greybeard
    Oct 31, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Greybeard Can you mention a source?
    – Sasan
    Nov 1, 2022 at 7:39
  • See my answer below.
    – Greybeard
    Nov 1, 2022 at 12:16

3 Answers 3


Dictionaries do not record this use of as... as. They only stop at the comparison structures with adjectives or adverbs, which is the trap into which the other answer fell.

A way to "go around it" is to look at set phrases that correspond to the use of the OP.

Definition of as much as (Entry 2 of 2)
: even though : despite the fact that

  • As much as I respect him, I still have to disagree with him on this point. (M-W)

I know much is an adverb here, but as can be followed by adjectives OR adverbs for similar purposes, so we can replace much with an adjective such as serious.

HOWEVER, your structure is more commonly used without the first AS (which M-W records as an adverb in this particular use), and this is why it was so difficult to find it in the dictionaries. In your sentence,

Serious as the problem was, no one paid enough attention to it.

as is a conjunction of concession. And if you look up conjunction "as", you will find plenty of dictionary entries explaining it. For example:

used to say that although something is true, what follows is also true
SYNONYM though

  • Happy as they were, there was something missing. (OxfordL)


used after an adjective or adverb to mean that something is true despite what you are saying

  • Strange as it may seem, I never really wanted to be rich. (Macmillan)

So your expression is correct, even with the first AS present. I presume the more common construction simply omits it. To avoid the confusion with the comparative meaning? For elegance of style? Who knows...

  • The OED does record this use...
    – Greybeard
    Nov 1, 2022 at 12:12
  • I would be surprised if it didn't. Thing is, most of us have no access to it.
    – fev
    Nov 1, 2022 at 12:14

Yes, it does.

OED: As (conjunction)

B4. In parenthetical clauses forming an extension of the subject or predicate, with a somewhat concessive force: though, however, to whatever degree or extent.

b. With antecedent as.

1890 Boston Med. & Surg. Jrnl. 2 Oct. 318/1 As satisfactory as this operation is.

1913 Atlantic Monthly Aug. 231/1 But as quick as I was, I wasn't quick enough.

1985 V. C. Andrews Heaven vii. 133 As mean as he was, he'd save us from starvation.

2008 Independent 5 Nov. 34/4 As poor as they are, the fashion sense here blows my mind.


Yes it does.


Example sentence in the page

Greg makes as much money as Mick but not as much as Neil.

Edit: Another example is

Can you come as soon as possible?

As ___ as can be used to express not only comparisons, but also weightier, mightier meaning by itself.

In the OP example this had been the case, use of "to be" does not affect its usage. Also the attendant clause do not modify the meaning of the clause. that uses "as__as" simile. They can be considered as independent clauses.

  • 3
    That's not the meaning used in the OP.
    – fev
    Oct 31, 2022 at 21:34
  • 2
    As much money as Mick makes, it's nothing compared to Neil's salary. Oct 31, 2022 at 21:53
  • 1
    This answer is using a definition that means that two things are equal. How does that apply to the sense in the question?
    – Barmar
    Nov 1, 2022 at 0:42
  • 1
    Unfortunately, none of the grammar web sites seem to mention the OP's use, as it's less common than the "equality" sense.
    – Barmar
    Nov 1, 2022 at 0:45
  • @Barmar. The second example sentence in my answer does not mean "two things are equal".
    – banuyayi
    Nov 1, 2022 at 5:15

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