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"They weren't clearing me so much as they were..." Options
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018 7:39:47 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/29/2017
Posts: 136
Neurons: 55,611
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Hello!

I'm wondering whether it is grammatically correct to change the position of "so much" in the first set of sentences so that this construction is placed as in the second set of sentences. I'd like to hear your opinions.

The sentences in the first set are taken from native speakers' writings. The second set contains just my own tweaks.

1)
Quote:
I wondered if my investigators weren't clearing me so much as they were shoring up that bylaw


Quote:
It hasn't watered anything down so much as muddied the waters


2)
Quote:
I wondered if my investigators weren't so much clearing me as they were shoring up that bylaw


Quote:
It hasn't so much watered anything down as muddied the waters


I'm looking forward to your responses.
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018 7:56:41 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,468
Neurons: 27,420
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
maltliquor87 wrote:
Hello!

I'm wondering whether it is grammatically correct to change the position of "so much" in the first set of sentences so that this construction is placed as in the second set of sentences. I'd like to hear your opinions.

The sentences in the first set are taken from native speakers' writings. The second set contains just my own tweaks.

1)
Quote:
I wondered if my investigators weren't clearing me so much as they were shoring up that bylaw


Quote:
It hasn't watered anything down so much as muddied the waters


2)
Quote:
I wondered if my investigators weren't so much clearing me as they were shoring up that bylaw


Quote:
It hasn't so much watered anything down as muddied the waters


I'm looking forward to your responces.


Your constructions are correct, yet the comparisons are more clear in the native examples where the words "so much as" are closer together.
Think



"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
maltliquor87
Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018 8:27:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/29/2017
Posts: 136
Neurons: 55,611
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Today I came across a sentence written by Michael Shermer, who is a prolific writer and the creator of Skeptic Magazine. Here's his sentence verbatim:

Quote:
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


I noticed that "so much" and "as" were separated in Shermer's sentence. Shortly after, I managed to find those two sentences, which I had seen before, and in those sentences "so much" and "as" were closer together, as we just saw. The next question that springs to mind is whether in Shermer's sentence "so much" and "as" can be placed closer together.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 12:11:40 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 9,561
Neurons: 50,744
maltliquor87 wrote:
Today I came across a sentence written by Michael Shermer, who is a prolific writer and the creator of Skeptic Magazine. Here's his sentence verbatim:

Quote:
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


I noticed that "so much" and "as" were separated in Shermer's sentence. Shortly after, I managed to find those two sentences, which I had seen before, and in those sentences "so much" and "as" were closer together, as we just saw. The next question that springs to mind is whether in Shermer's sentence "so much" and "as" can be placed closer together.


Yes, it's possible, but only if the subject of scientists and the possibility of bias has already been stated in earlier sentences. If so, then this sentence could be rewritten as:
"It's not so much that scientists are unbiased as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
maltliquor87
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 1:19:35 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/29/2017
Posts: 136
Neurons: 55,611
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thank you all for your responses.

I see FounDit's point, and I am thankful for that, but it does not completely address my question. Can "so much" and "as" be placed next to each other in the Shermer's sentence like in the following quote?

Quote:
It's not that scientists are trained to avoid these biases so much as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


And here's his original sentence just for comparison:

Quote:
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


I'm asking because leonAzul commented that "so much" and "as" are better placed together, as we saw with my previous sentences. I want to undersand if this suggestion applies to sentences across the board or it can disregarded for some other sentences like the one that Shermer wrote.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:30:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 9,561
Neurons: 50,744
maltliquor87 wrote:
Thank you all for your responses.

I see FounDit's point, and I am thankful for that, but it does not completely address my question. Can "so much" and "as" be placed next to each other in the Shermer's sentence like in the following quote?

Quote:
It's not that scientists are trained to avoid these biases so much as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


And here's his original sentence just for comparison:

Quote:
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


I'm asking because leonAzul commented that "so much" and "as" are better placed together, as we saw with my previous sentences. I want to undersand if this suggestion applies to sentences across the board or it can disregarded for some other sentences like the one that Shermer wrote.

Ah, I understand now. Sorry for the confusion.
Yes, you can place them together as leonAzul says, and it does tend to read better, but they don't always have to be placed together, as your illustration shows.

However, as previously indicated, it is easier to read when they are grouped together in that they form a kind of equation, with a premise on one side of "so much as", and another premise following.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:49:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,142
Neurons: 176,930
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I did notice one other difference between the first two sentences and the third.

The first two have ONE subject. The subjects of both clauses are the same:
I wondered if my investigators weren't clearing me so much as they (my investigators) were shoring up that bylaw.
It hasn't watered anything down so much as (it has) muddied the waters.



The other one is different.
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices.

This is just my 'feeling' not necessarily shared by others.
To me, it seems very natural to keep the "so much as" together when it is contrasting two actions of the same subject.
When it is contrasting two whole clauses (with a subject and predicate in each), it doesn't seem to matter so much.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
maltliquor87
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:51:33 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/29/2017
Posts: 136
Neurons: 55,611
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
Thanks! You are awesome guys
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 4:59:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,468
Neurons: 27,420
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
maltliquor87 wrote:
Today I came across a sentence written by Michael Shermer, who is a prolific writer and the creator of Skeptic Magazine. Here's his sentence verbatim:

Quote:
It's not so much that scientists are trained to avoid these biases as it is that science itself is designed to force you to ferret out your errors and prejudices


I noticed that "so much" and "as" were separated in Shermer's sentence. Shortly after, I managed to find those two sentences, which I had seen before, and in those sentences "so much" and "as" were closer together, as we just saw. The next question that springs to mind is whether in Shermer's sentence "so much" and "as" can be placed closer together.


Yes, they could.

Yet please notice something else. In many discussions here we have noted that the word "that" can be optional in short dependent clauses. The way Mr. Shermer has repeated the word "that" makes it easier to mark the two ideas being contrasted.


"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
maltliquor87
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 5:26:27 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/29/2017
Posts: 136
Neurons: 55,611
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
LeonAzul, thanks again.

Yes, I noticed it.
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