Session 5

Learners' Questions

Welcome to Learners' Questions - the series where we answer your queries about the English language. What will this week's learner question be?

Sessions in this unit

Session 5 score

0 / 4

  • 0 / 4
    Activity 1

Activity 1

Learners' Questions expressions

Mohammad Tariq from Afghanistan wants to know: What part of speech is

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Hi guys! Dan here for BBC Learning English with this week's Learner Question. Find out what it is after this.

OK! So, this week's learner question comes from Mohammad Tariq from Afghanistan, and he writes: Hello! I hope you are in the best of health. Would you kindly tell me what parts of speech as... as are. I know that we use adjectives or adverbs between them, but I do not know what they are themselves. Kind regards.

OK Mohammed Tariq, I found an answer as quickly as I could. Now, this structure is used to measure and compare things that are similar in proportion, and you're right about the adjectives and adverbs going between the as…as. The first as functions as an adverb and modifies the following adverb or adjective. The second functions as a preposition when connected to noun or a pronoun, or as a conjunction when it relates to a following clause, such as in the sentence: I found an answer as quickly as it was possible to do.

I like to think I'm as good a dancer as Michael Jackson. OK,OK, maybe not as good a dancer, but did you notice the use of the adjective and the noun? …as good a dancer as Michael Jackson. When we use an adjective and a noun between an as…as expression, we must remember the article. …as good a dancer. And this is also true for an …as delicious an orange as…

To make these expressions negative we put not before the as…as. For example: he was not as smart as his sister. And in negative expressions we can replace the first as with so. For example: he was not so smart as his sister.

These expressions are idiomatic and they're very, very common in English. We have a few set ones which people tend to repeat over and over again. For example: When I saw the ghost, I went as white as a sheet. Or: In the library be as quiet as a mouse. Or: I was late for work. I ran as fast as lightning.

I hope that answers your question Mohammed Tariq. If anybody else out there has a question, please email it to us at And for more information go to Thank you very much! See you next time on Learners' Questions.


As…as expressions are used to compare things of a similar nature. In between the we put an adjective,adverb or adjective noun combination:
I am as cold as ice.
He ran as quickly as he could.
She is as clever a person as Albert Einstein.

Adverb and Preposition
The first as is an adverb, modifying the following adverb or adjective. The second as is either a preposition when connecting to noun or pronoun: He was as big as a mountain, or a conjunction when connecting to a clause: He was as tall as he would ever grow.

Using nouns
When using a noun between as…as, it is important to remember the article a or an:
It was as bright a day as I have seen in a long time.
It was as provoking an exhibition as the one before it.

To make as…as expressions negative, use 'not' before them. When using a negative, the first as can be substituted with so:
I am not as clever as you.
I am not so clever as you.

There are many common idiomatic expressions in English using this structure:
She was as brave as a lion.
They were as tall as trees.
I'm as cool as a cucumber.

To do

Try our quiz to see what you've learned about this topic.

Learners' Questions Quiz

4 Questions

Decide if these sentences are correct or incorrect.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

End of Session 5

Well, that's it for this unit! Join us again in Unit 2 for more Exam Skills, News Review, Pronunciation in the News, The Teachers' Room and Learners' Questions!

Session Grammar

  • As…as expressions
    Used to compare things of a similar nature.
    Adjective, adverb or adjective-noun combination between
    First as is an adverb; second is a preposition or conjunction.
    Use articles with nouns between as…as.
    Use 'not' before for negatives. 
    Many idioms use this structure.