"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Well, maybe, but will I get the grammar right? Comparisons between people can be tricky--and not just because of the risk for insult. Pronoun usage can change the meaning of a comparison and leave your grammar lacking.
Sentences such as this one cause problems:
Tom and June went out for pizza, but I happen to know that Tom likes pizza more than her.
Although many of us would say that this sentence sounds okay, it actually means something more tricky than it sounds like it means. Am I saying that Tom likes pizza more than June does? That might be what I think I'm saying, but I need to think again. By using the pronoun her at the end of the sentence, I am actually saying this:
Tom likes pizza more than he likes her.
The proper grammar for what I meant to say goes like this:
Tom likes pizza more than she.
But pretty much no American speaker of English would say it that way. The quick way to fix all such comparisons is to add all the words of the comparison into the sentence so that the correct pronoun sounds right-and is right:
Tom likes pizza more than she likes pizza.
Or the shorter version:
Tom likes pizza more than she does.
Challenge: Complete and clarify these comparisons:
- My friend and I saw the Orioles lose recently, but I forgive them more than him.
- Maddie said Bob likes the Red Sox more than them.
- Jim and John both sing bass in the choir but Jim sings lower than him.
- Mittens and Cottontail often eat from the same dish, but Cottontail eats more than her.
- The two instructors both teach in loud voices, but Samuel is louder than her.
- The adult runners are worried that the kids will be faster than them.
- We tried the scallops, but we liked the shrimp better than them.
Your answers can come straight to me.
Answers to the Number challenge are brought to you by Vera Sytch, who successfully made her way through the tricky number 3, where the verb in parentheses actually goes with people who rather than with the number. Only one other person made it through the challenge unscathed: Susan Czubiak. Congratulations to these two especially careful readers!
- The number of blooming plants in her yard (are/is) amazing.
- A number of documents (were/was) saved on the flash drive, not the hard drive.
- The number of people who (have/has) more than one cat is surprising to a dog lover. [in this case, the verb that follows number is "is." ]
- The number of bent clothes hangers in my closet (are/is) ridiculous.
- A number of papers (were/was) strewn about the desk.