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Preposition vs. conjunction

Which of the following versions are you, personally, more likely to use? (I know it may be difficult to assess your own usage once asked.)

She was taller than him.
She was taller than he was.

This poll is thanks to a question that geesepalace asked me about British vs. US usage.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
I think the second "was" is clunky.
Feb. 26th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Does that mean you'd prefer "She was taller than he" if given a choice of that over "She was taller than him"?
Feb. 27th, 2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
I think I would tend to "him" as an object over "he" as a subject, but whether I am right...

But at the back of my head is:
"Oh, no one can deny
That Arnold is less selfish than I.
He married a woman to stop her getting away
Now she's there all day."

in which my gut would probably have gone for "than me", but anxiously.
Feb. 26th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Although I might just say, "She was taller than he."

When someone telephones, I habitually answer the question, "Is this Celandine?" with, "This is she."
Feb. 26th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
That still makes it clear you're using it as a conjunction though - but thank you for the clarification.
Feb. 27th, 2012 04:48 am (UTC)
Me, too.
Feb. 27th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
Me, too.
Feb. 26th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
Preposition vs. conjunction
In common speech, 1. If I was writing it, or speaking to a stranger (particularly with a non-local accent) 2. I know this is inconsistent, but that's human nature.
Feb. 27th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Re: Preposition vs. conjunction
Me too.
Feb. 27th, 2012 11:41 am (UTC)
Re: Preposition vs. conjunction
I agree. In speaking, it would always be option 1. In writing, it would depend on context, but unless I was writing in the voice of a particular character, I would be more likely to go with option 2.
Feb. 27th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
I think I would say it both ways? I'm having a hard time with this one...
Feb. 27th, 2012 05:15 am (UTC)
I think I would use both, but my impression is that I favour number 1.

I now had to read up on this controversy. We say "the taller of two" the "of" acts to introduce the class used in the comparison. So it seems like their should be a parallel way to introduce the other object in a two way comparison without having to resort to a whole new clause and "than" as preposition fits the bill. Maybe we just need to invent a new preposition.

Would someone really say 5 is greater than 3 is? Of course that would be idiomatic to mathematics and hardly proves anything generally.

You could presumably avoid this by saying "She is taller of the two." [assuming there is no third "it" who has been introduced]
Feb. 27th, 2012 05:35 am (UTC)
I would say the first in speaking, but middle class people sometimes get sniffy and correct you to the second version and therefore in formal writing I might try to use the second method.
Feb. 27th, 2012 06:44 am (UTC)
UK: "him". This is one of the things that this form of the pronoun is for. The only circumstances when I would use the second sentence might be when talking to someone whose English was very shaky.
Feb. 27th, 2012 08:08 am (UTC)
For me it depends--the first in colloquial or verbal situations, the second more likely in formal writing.
Feb. 27th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)
According to the OED, than is always a conjunction. It looks like a preposition in the first example, but I suspect the OED would deny that this is what it is doing.
Feb. 27th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
The OED has this comment on "than" as a preposition: "This is app. the invariable construction in the case of 'than whom', which is universally accepted instead of 'than who'. With the personal pronouns it is now considered incorrect." But some British authors, such as Philip Reeve in "Mortal Engines", do seem to have no problem with "than" as a preposition, e.g., "She was taller than him."

A similar construction is maybe better at separating British from American English: "[Someone] was from the same province as him" (Chris Wickham's "The Inheritance of Rome", p. 42). I doubt an American editor would be as happy with this usage as Penguin's are. The OED accepts "as" as a preposition, apparently without qualification. The American Heritage Dictionary, however, accepts it as such only when used in the sense of "In the role, capacity, or function of: 'acting as a mediator.'" "Otherwise the case of pronouns following 'as,' or 'as to,' may be nominative or objective, depending on the function of the pronouns: 'You like her as much as I' (that is, 'as much as I like her'). 'You like her as much as me' (that is, 'as much as you like me')."
Feb. 27th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thus far, with 56 poll responses, only 12 people have chosen the second option; however, with one exception, those 12 are all North American.
Feb. 27th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
If I were to use either I would use the first, but only because the second "was" is redundant and would sound awkward. Unless you're talking about a point in time and this is only part of the sentence ("She was taller than he was at that age" for example). But also note I'm a stickler for the "statement contrary to fact" rule regarding "I was" vs. "If I were" there at the beginning of the paragraph. Some of my grammar teachers were decidedly old-fashioned.

This is assuming I were writing non-conversationally. I tend to type the way I speak if it's a casual conversation.

Edited at 2012-02-27 05:29 pm (UTC)
Feb. 27th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
Not a clear-cut case. Part of it is speaking/writing, but even there, it depends on context. In spoken language, I primarily use the object pronoun. But if I wanted to emphasize or continue the comparison, I'd probably use the subject pronoun AND the verb. I'd also say, "this is she" on the phone, but to someone I know, I'd say, "it's me." I don't think I'd ever not repeat the verb.
Feb. 28th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
I was corrected EVERY time I used the first option, both by my Canadian/ American-educated dad and American-educated Mom ;)
Feb. 28th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
*____ quam ____ =same case. That is precisely why ...
Feb. 28th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
I wish there was a third option for: "it depends on the context"

For some reason if I have to put the word 'because' in front of that phrase then I would use the second choice. In most other cases I would use the first choice. Mind you, I'm not sure which phrases I picked up from where...

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )