Possessives and Attributives

Q. I’ve encountered a sentence that is giving me more confusion than it should. The sentence in question is this: “Enjoyment is not as an important function for courting as it is for dating.” I cannot figure out if it should read “as important a function.” I think if I could figure out what grammatical function “as” is serving in this sentence, I could make sense of it, but I have been staring at it long enough to addle my brain.

A. Although your editing will put it right, the “as . . . as” construction (adverb and conjunction, respectively) is not always clear or economical. It would be better to trim and rephrase: “Enjoyment is less important for courting than for dating.” (As for the difference between courting and dating and why it’s okay for courting to be less fun, I assume you’re investigating.)