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Hi,
the other day I read
1a) "We would like to have as large an audience as possible"
and I know that it sounds perfectly natural for english-speaking people but not for me ....because of my mother tongue. I'd have said
1b) "We would like to have an audience as large as possible"

Could you tell me please which of the following sentences sounds more natural

2a) I would like to buy as big a bed as possible
2b) I would like to buy a bed as big as possible

3a) I'd like as big a bed as possible
3b) I'd like a bed as big as possible

4a) I want as fast a taxi as possible
4b) I want a taxi as fast as possible (I think here the two sentences don't have the same meaning, not sure though)

5a) I need as precise an answer as possible
5b) I need an answer as precise as possible

Ok, I think you got the idea :-)
For me (and that's because of my mother tongue) all the sentences "b" sound more natural. But I'm guessing in english the sentences "a" are more natural. Am I right?
Thanks

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Comments  
Hi,

I am not an English speaker either, but it sounds to me that the (a) sentences looks more natural.

Any corrections from others?

Regards,
Sorry! I meant the (b) sentences!

Regards,
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Hello Fab

Yes, the As have it, as far as I'm concerned!

MrP
Hello Fab

My choice is (a). It can be proved by any Google surveys. For example, (a) as small a car as possible =121 versus (b) a car as small as possible =3, and (a) for as low a price as possible=243 versus (b) for a price as low as possible=40.

In English, unlike in Romance languages, it is a basic rule that an attributive adjective comes before the noun it modifies. But it could not be said to be completely wrong to put an attributive adjective after the noun. (Ex) "I need an answer as precise as possible". This type of sentence might be parsed as the noun modifying adjectival clause is reduced by omitting "which/that is" in "I need an answer (which/that is) as precise as possible".

paco
4a) I want as fast a taxi as possible
4b) I want a taxi as fast as possible (I think here the two sentences don't have the same meaning, not sure though)
4c) I want a taxi as quickly as possible.

You're right - I would take sentence 4a) to mean "I want a taxi that can go faster than any other taxi. Sentence 4b) is ambiguous - it could mean the same as 4a), or it could mean the came as 4c), that is, "I want a taxi immediately!" Even though "fast" is an adjective and this construction probably really requires an adverb (such as "quickly" or "soon"), I think it's a common enough mistake that most native speakers would understand it in this way.

In fact, I think tht's a good example to illustrate how we would use the different structures. I'm not very good at explaining the grammar, but if I say "I want as X a thing as possible" it means I want a thing that is very, very, very X. On the other hand, if the sentence says "I want a thing as X as possible," I expect X to be an adverb describing how X you want the thing. Usually it would be "as soon as possible." In the example with the taxi, "fast" is close enough to "quickly" that I think most people would understand it that way. In the other examples, ("I want a bed as big as possible") really there is no way to understand it other than "I want as big a bed as possible," and, as Paco says, it's not really "wrong," but most native speakers would use the (a) constructions rather than the (b) ones.

Paco, I would bet that if you google "as ----------- as possible," the top choices by far would be "soon" and "quickly."
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Hello Khoff

I know "soon" and "quickly" are most frequently used in the adverbial phrase "as ... as possible". But what Fab is asking about is the attributive adjectival phrase "as ... as possible". So I chose "a small car" and "a low price" as the sample noun phrases to google the usage frequency of the attributive adjectival "as .... as possible".

paco
Thank you all guys for your comments :-)
I'm a native English speaker and I'd like to congratulate khoff for putting my thoughts into words! He has explained all of the factors precisely and correctly.

(It is a continual source of amazement for me to find that "foreigners" understand my language better than I).

:-)
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