Comparisons

This discussion came up in another group. I thought I’d share my reply here.

When using “than”, a TRUE comparison between two things requires the verb “to be”:

  • Pattern: A is ____ than B.
  • He is taller than I am.
  • She is prettier this year than she was last year.
  • This is more expensive than that.
  • That is less expensive than this.
  • I am taller than he is.
  • Day is brighter than night.
  • They were faster than we were.
  • You are hungrier than I am.
  • That is as expensive as this. (For equals, we use “as _____ as”)

When the verb is NOT “to be”, then it may NOT be a true comparison. For example, the following comparison patterns apply to the verb “to prefer”:

  • Pattern 1: Bob prefers ____ to ____. (gerunds required=> -ing)
  • Pattern 2:Bob prefers to ____ rather than to ____. (infinitives with ‘to’)
  • Pattern 3:Bob would rather _____ than _____. (bare infinitives; no ‘to’)
  • I prefer reading to listening.
  • I prefer to read rather than to listen.
  • I would rather read than listen.
  • I prefer sitting to standing.
  • I prefer to sit rather than to stand.
  • I would rather sit than stand.

When the verb is “to like”, then the following comparison pattern applies:

  • I like A ___ than B.
  • I like A more than B.
  • I like B less than A.
  • I like A just as much as B. (For equals, we use “as _____ as”)

So what do I mean by a “true” comparison. The sentences with “prefer” and “like” are NOT comparing A to B. They are comparing the degree to which I like those two things.

To explain why I prefer one to the other (or one over the other), I must compare A and B to each other using the verb “to be”, as follows: (the TRUE comparison is in [ ])

  • I like reading more than listening because [reading is slower than listening.]
  • I prefer sitting to standing because [standing is more tiring than sitting.]

To prefer A to B is more common but in American English you may also hear us say to prefer A over B. Same meaning.

3 comments

  1. Teacher Lee. 

     

    1. Can we usually say "prefer to" is used with "rather than"? 

    2. As far as I know "rather than" is also a Subordinate Conjunction. What role does it have in this lesson, please? 

    3. In which cases can we use "So……As"?    

     

    Thanks,

  2. Your three questions:

    1. Can we usually say "prefer to" is used with "rather than"? 
    2. As far as I know "rather than" is also a Subordinate Conjunction. What role does it have in this lesson, please? 
    3. In which cases can we use "So……As"?    

    do not relate to this post, which deal with comparisons using is/like and than.  Let me find you another place to ask these questions.

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