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(1) As it is unique, our past leads to our identity and personality.

(2) Unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality.

(3) As unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality.

In (1) and (2), the italicized phrase can mean "because it is unique". How about (3)? Can As unique as it is mean the same thing? Or can the 'as...as...' construction only have a concessive meaning?

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here.
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 17:21

3 Answers 3

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I am going to explain the meaning of each of your examples in turn:

(1) As it is unique, our past leads to our identity and personality.

This means: Because it is unique (the sentence doesn't really work though because actually our past leads to our identity and personality yes, but that isn't 'because it is unique'. It's 'because it happened'.)

(2) Unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality. This means: Even though it is unique (This sentence doesn't really make sense)

(3) As unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality. This means: Even though it is unique (This sentence doesn't really make sense)

If you are trying to say that 'our unique experiences directly lead to the creation of our unique identity and personality'. And 'that's what makes every one of us unique', then that makes sense.

If that's the case, I would say it as I have just said it. The 'unique' expressions just do not really fit what you are trying to say. So I would avoid using them for this.

As I can't find correct examples of these forms of speech online, I will give you some examples of their meaning, and how to use them correctly, here:

Examples:

  1. As it is unique, and there is no other like it in the world, we wish to fight to preserve the university library of fossilised antelope teeth, despite the fact that very few people visit it. ('Because it is unique ..)

  2. Unique as it is, the university library of prehistoric antelope teeth is not popular, and so we want to close it down. (Even though it is unique... Despite the fact that it is unique... Notwithstanding that it is unique ..)

  3. As unique as it is, the university library of antelope teeth cannot be justified financially, as no one visits it, so we are closing it. (Even though it is unique... Despite the fact that it is unique... Notwithstanding that it is unique ..)

Examples of unique as: https://ludwig.guru/s/as+unique+as

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Though the vast majority of sentences starting with as...as... do it with concessive meaning there are some other possibilities to be found:

Certain times of day in summer it shades my mother's front porch. If it ever tore loose from its moorings, it would crush her house like a sledgehammer. As big as it is, its roots must run under her cellar. (Harper's Magazine; 1992; Wideman, John Edgar)

As simple as it gets, chapati is a mixture of whole wheat flour, water, and a little oil. (MAG: Backpacker; 1997 (Apr))

The medical procedure for amputating people at the waist is called Hemicorporectomy - literally, the removal of half of the body. Usually done for terminal cases of pelvic cancer. As unpleasant as it sounds, it involves the removal of the legs, the genitalia (internal and external), most of the urinary system, the large and small intestines, pelvic bones, anus, and rectum. (TV Tropes)

We may as well spend the night here. As dark as it is, it's too dangerous to go on. (Walking after Midnight; Karen Robards; 1995)

As unique as we all are, we will all have different ways to achieve our goals. (The Guardian)

As unique as his name, the 72-year-old is juggling and jockeying issues in a unique style. (New Indian Express)

The interpretation depends on the context. There's nothing in the syntax that forces concessive meaning. Of course, one could say that the above are all errors, as they are pretty rare.

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  • +1 for unearthing the rare examples. In the Guardian example, As unique as we all are does seem to mean "Because we are all unique", not "Though we are all unique", don't you think?
    – JK2
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 2:06
  • @JK2 Yes, I agree, and am of the opinion that in the right context, reason is a natural interpretation for this construction.
    – DW256
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 3:34
  • On second thought, it might mean "Because we are as unique as we all are", which can be reduced to "Being as unique as we all are", where "Being" can be left out. In this analysis, "as unique as" clearly has a comparative meaning, doesn't it?
    – JK2
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 3:49
  • @JK2 Seems an unlikely structure for pure comparative meaning. Are you saying it's a simple rearrangement of We will all have different ways as unique as we are to achieve our goals?
    – DW256
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 7:37
  • I think that's an entirely different construction, even if they mean virtually the same thing.
    – JK2
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:58
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These each mean because it is unique but the third is not quite correct. Unique means one of a kind, like no other, singular. As such it cannot (properly) be divided or compared. You cannot say it is very unique or so unique. It either is or is not unique. The following sentences brush up against it but only (3) fails the test, but not entirely.

(1) As it is unique, our past leads to our identity and personality.

Meaning since or because it is unique, our past leads to our identity and personality.

(2) Unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality.

Sounds comparative but not quite in the usage. Other words in its place would not break it. Perfect as it is, Singular as it is. It is the same as (1) in that it understands the meaning of it, again since or because it is unique.

(3) As unique as it is, our past leads to our identity and personality.

This gets into trouble since the comparative is out front; As unique. But again in the usage one could understand getting verbiage of (2) and (3) mixed up. "Unique as" vs "As unique".

My skin truly crawls to hear the unique ways this word is frequently tortured but (3) though a proper mistake I would allow in conversation or a report of such. They all do serve the purpose of saying what the OP is asking even if, the third, not perfectly.

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