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Avoid These Comparative Form Errors

It has been some time since my last post related to grammar, on subjunctive forms. So, here comes one. Now we are going to look at the comparative forms of adjectives, and will give focus on simple sentences, which are often mistaken in writing. I believe giving small helpful tips like this in simpler posts would be more effective to better writing than publishing a whopper of a post with everything in it.

There are three forms for adjectives, as you all know: Positive, Comparative, and Superlative. Here we will discuss some errors encountered in the comparative form, which may make the sentences mean entirely wrong. The comparative form is associated with ‘than’ or ‘as’ in some instances. For instance, look at the following sentences:

Ron is fatter than Bob.

Ron is as fat as George.

Here, we are saying that Ron has more of fatness than Bob. So, we use the word ‘than’. All of you know this, and clearly understand it. Now, check out these instances:

He beat her more often than me.

He beat her more often than I.

Which you think is the correct?

This question is a little bit tricky. Here, in both sentences, we have omitted something, without which the sentences are not complete. So, on adding the omitted, we will see that they both are correct (dependent on the context). Here goes the answer:

He beat her more often than he beat me.

He beat her more often than I beat her.

Now, you realize the difference? The comparative form compares two different things in these cases. And the simple edit in the sentence made it clear to us. In the first instance, it compared ‘her’ and ‘me’, while in the latter sentence, ‘he’ and ‘I’.

A silly error in a sentence like this would make it mean something entirely different. For instance:

Mary loves me more than him.

Mary loves me more than he.

Which one would you use if you want to please Mary, and which one would you use if you want to please that anonymous ‘him’? In such tricky situations, it is always best to check what the sentences actually mean by rewriting them in this fashion:

Mary loves me more than she loves him.

Mary loves me more than he loves me.

Clear?

You can use any of these sentences, but try to convey the one, which you conceived. Omitting ‘she loves’ or ‘he loves’ doesn’t make the sentences wrong, but be careful when you do it.

Here goes the ‘As’ part of this dilemma:

I can move as fast as him.

I can move as fast as he.

Clearly the second sentence is correct, and the first one doesn’t make any sense. How you know this?

I can move as fast as him can.

I can move as fast as he can.

Simple!

When writing, always care these tricky situations. They are very important to convey the very correct thing you envisage. But sadly, there are a million writers out there, who falter in these areas and convey to the readers a totally different meaning than what they originally conceived. In such situations, the readers are forced to guess what the writer tries to tell them: a completely deplorable state! Hope you will not make any such mistakes.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

Comments

  1. Ok Sir Lenin. Thank you. Yes, simple yet tricky, like sleight of the hand. I can see it clearly now. I am ashamed of myself. I thought I know this, but being human, I forget and get confused. I will get back to you when I need help on this area. Keep up the good work and hope you more successes.

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