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Air is to us what water is to fish.

Which part of speech does what belong to? And what does it mean? Thanks.
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Hi,

Air is to us what water is to fish.

. . . what does it mean?


A is to B what C is to D means that the relationship between A and B is the same as the relationship between C and D. In other words, the relationship between A and B is what the relationship between C and D is.

The relationship between water and fish is that water is essential. The relationship between air and us is the same, ie the relationship between air and us is that air is essential.

If it helps, you could also express the sentence as Air is (what water is to fish, ie essential) to us.

Which part of speech does what belong to? Such words can sometimes be a bit hard to classify, but it seems like a pronoun to me.

Best wishes, Clive
I have also seen the structure A is to B as C is to D.

Air is to us as water is to fish.
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We require air to breathe while fish require water to do the same.
CliveHi,

Air is to us what water is to fish.

. . . what does it mean?


A is to B what C is to D means that the relationship between A and B is the same as the relationship between C and D. In other words, the relationship between A and B is what the relationship between C and D is.

The relationship between water and fish is that water is essential. The relationship between air and us is the same, ie the relationship between air and us is that air is essential.

If it helps, you could also express the sentence as Air is (what water is to fish, ie essential) to us.

Which part of speech does what belong to? Such words can sometimes be a bit hard to classify, but it seems like a pronoun to me.

Best wishes, Clive

Thanks, Clive, for the clear analysis.

Could it be a relative pronoun which also serves as a conjunction to connect two sentences in the base sentence?
In British English we use 'as' here instead of 'what'.

It's a very common structure in kids' English tests.
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Pardon me folks, this maybe another can of worm I am about to open for myself...

Is this possible that the correct form is "Air to us is what water is to fish"? Emotion: smile
Hi Goodman,

What do you mean by 'correct'? Acceptable grammar? Most commonly heard?Emotion: smile

Clive
Hi Clive,

Thanks for taking interest to my question...

<<<What do you mean by 'correct'? Acceptable grammar? Most commonly heard?>>>

I meant all of the above. The original posted question was Air is to us what water is to fish.

The way I heard it is slight different: Air to us is what water is to fish. So I was curious if one form is more correct than the other in this metaphor.
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