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Newart



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 4
Location: UK
PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:40 am
Post subject: What part of speech is the word “than”?
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What part of speech is the word “than”? I found only one answer on the Web, and it described it as a preposition, which is obviously wrong.

An example is “He is taller than I am.”

I’d call it a “comparative conjunction”, but is there an established name for it?
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Pedroski
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Joined: 04 May 2009
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 7:36 pm
Post subject: it is what it does
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I think it is what it does: links the two comparees. It seems to have developed from 'then'. It is called a preposition because you can replace it with 'in comparison with', although you might need to rearrange the words.

He is, in comparison with me, taller.
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mathew16
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Joined: 26 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 8:35 pm
Post subject: Re: What part of speech is the word “than”?
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Newart wrote: What part of speech is the word “than”? I found only one answer on the Web, and it described it as a preposition, which is obviously wrong.


Usage prescriptionists say that "than" governs the nomitave case (Crystal, Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language 2nd ed., p. 203). So it seems that in prescriptive English, than can only be a conjunction. This holds true in your example. However, in the colloquial

He is taller than me.

I think than should be analyzed as a preposition. Wink
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Newart



Joined: 24 May 2010
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Location: UK
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:28 am
Post subject: What part of speech is the word “than”?
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Mathew16's research is quite right: "than" does govern the nominative case. The sentence "He is taller than I" is correct because the verb "am" is understood. Because the colloquial "He is taller than me" is, strictly, incorrect, it shouldn't deserve to be analyzed at all, in my humble opinion. (After all, would one bother to analyze "Me and Jim are going home"?)

I do agree that "than" is a conjunction, simply because it joins two clauses, and can therefore be nothing else. I just wanted to know whether there is a special name for this type of conjunction, similar to 'coordinating', 'subordinating' and correlative'.
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Newart



Joined: 24 May 2010
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Location: UK
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:42 am
Post subject: What part of speech is the word “than”?
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I've just done a search for "conjunctions", which I hadn't thought of doing before. I found the answer I was looking for at 'http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/list-of-conjunctions.html', 'http://www.esldesk.com/vocabulary/conjunctions', 'http://copyediting-grammar-style.suite101.com/article.cfm/definition_list_examples_of_conjunction_types' and 'http://www.yourdictionary.com/grammar/conjunctions/conjunctions.html'.

It seems that "than" is a subordinating conjunction.
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Cossara
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009
Posts: 102
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 5:02 pm
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According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, it is one of those words that belongs to two parts of speech:
- preposition in: "He is older than me/his sister" (since it is followed by a nominal expression)
- conjunction/subordinator in: "It was much better than I'd expected." or "You should know better than to behave like that" (since it introduces a subordinate clause)
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