How to Pick Pronouns for Comparisons

Even very correct English speakers tend to take shortcuts, by chopping words out of their sentences and racing to the finish. This practice is evident in comparisons and can lead you to make a mistake and use the wrong pronoun. Read the following sample sentences:

Lulu denied that she had more facial hair than he.

That sentence really means

Lulu denied that she had more facial hair than he had.

If you say the entire comparison, as in the preceding example, the pronoun choice is a cinch. However, when you drop the verb (had), you may be tempted to use the wrong pronoun, as in this sentence:

Lulu denied that she had more facial hair than him.

Sounds right, doesn’t it? But the sentence is wrong. The words you say must fit with the words you don’t say. Obviously you aren’t going to accept

Lulu denied that she had more facial hair than him had.

Him had is just too gross. The technical reason? Him is an object pronoun, but you’re using it as the subject of had.

Whenever you have an implied comparison, finish the sentence in your head. The correct pronoun becomes obvious.

Implied comparisons often contain the word than (as in the preceding sample sentences). The words so and as are also frequently part of an implied comparison:

The dancers that Michael hired are not as flexible as they.
Eggworthy gave Larry as much trouble as her.
Ralph, live in concert on Broadway, is as entertaining as she.

The complete comparisons are as follows:

The dancers that Michael hired are not as flexible as they are.
Eggworthy gave Larry as much trouble as Eggworthy gave her.
Ralph, live in concert on Broadway, is as entertaining as she is.

In some incomplete comparisons more than one word is missing. For example:

Grandmother gives my sister more souvenirs than me.

This means Grandmother gives my sister more souvenirs than Grandmother gives to me, because my sister is a spoiled brat and is always flattering the old bat.

and

Grandmother gives my sister more souvenirs than I.

This means Grandmother gives my sister more souvenirs than I do because I have better things to do with my allowance.

Think before you make a decision because the pronoun choice determines the meaning of the sentence.

Which sentence is correct?

A. Tee Rex broke more claws than I during the fight with Godzilla.
B. Tee Rex broke more claws than me during the fight with Godzilla.

Answer: Sentence A is correct. Read the sentence this way: Tee Rex broke more claws than I did during the fight with Godzilla. You can’t say me did.

Last one! Which is correct?

A. Roger told me more atomic secrets than she.
B. Roger told me more atomic secrets than her.

Answer: Both are correct, depending on the situation. Sentence A means that Roger told me more atomic secrets than she told me. Sentence B means that Roger told me more atomic secrets than he told her.

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