Half Right

rogersgeorge on April 2nd, 2017

The conversation in this Mr. Lowe comic illustrates two mistakes. Let’s take them one at a time. Here’s the comic:

Some idioms for comparing things in English are”as good as” and “better than.”  That second one can be “less than” “more than” “colder than” and so on. Those compare two things. When you have more than two, it’s “best of” “least of” “most of” “coldest of” and so on. I don’t hear people get this wrong very often, mostly by people inexperienced in English, such as young kids.

Can you tell what the other mistake is? Lots of people get this wrong. The comparison hinges on what you’re comparing; you can compare subjects and you can compare objects. When it’s  an object, “them,” “me,” him,” or “her” is correct. When you compare subjects, you need to use “they,” “I,” “he,” or “she.” An illustration might help.

Correct: I could do a better job than they. (The second verb is assumed. The full sentence is “I could do a better job than they do.”

Incorrect: “I could do a better job than them.” Say the whole sentence: “I could do a better job than them do.”

Correct: I like you more than her. (Filling in the missing words: “I like you more than I like her.”)

Incorrect: I like you more than she. (Actually, this can be correct if you mean that I like you more than she likes you. But the meaning is different!)

Why is it so hard to get this correct? Because “than” feels a lot like a preposition, which takes objects, and the subjuct of a sentence is usually clear up at the beginning, where it doesn’t have much attraction.

My advice: put the missing words in the sentence.



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