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Biologists study the form of all organisms, both plants and animals, and their activities, their functions, and their environment. They are not content, as were the old-time students of natural history, simply to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts.

About 'as were the old-time students of natural history', which interpretation is correct?

(1) the old-time students of natural history were content to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts

(2) the old-time students of natural history were not content to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts
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Comments  
The second one is correct.

Because the sentence which was witten in red refers to the sentence which is used before itself. So, if the first sentence is negative,then the other sentence is negative too.
Then, how do you express (1), using 'as'?
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I vote for (1), just out of intuition.

It's a good question; I'll wait to see what the teachers would say.
Hi guys,

The intended meaning is clearly #1. However, it does seem a little ambiguous in the way it is written. Better to write something like:

Unlike the old-time students of natural history, they are not content simply to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts.


Best wishes, Clive
CliveHi guys,

The intended meaning is clearly #1. However, it does seem a little ambiguous in the way it is written. Better to write something like:

Unlike the old-time students of natural history, they are not content simply to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts.


Best wishes, Clive
Good!

But then, how do you express #2, using 'as'?

Something like 'as the old-students of natural history weren't either'?
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Hi,

Yes. You could say They are not content, as the old-time students of natural history were not, simply to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts.

Clive

We don't have to use 'either' here? Is it optional? Or is it wrong?
Clive
Hi guys,

The intended meaning is clearly #1. However, it does seem a little ambiguous in the way it is written. Better to write something like:

Unlike the old-time students of natural history, they are not content simply to collect and study a mass of unrelated facts.


Best wishes, Clive

Thank you for your comments.

Yes, in that usage “as” always introduces a clause to say things are similar, never contrary. When one wants to make contraries, "as" is the wrong or at least ambiguous word chosen.


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