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When someone says "He is smarter than I and she put together," what is the function of the phrase "put together"? Is it considered an adjective?

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Shouldn't it be "me and her put together"? –  user545424 Apr 18 '12 at 1:03
    
@user545424: I think I would phrase it, "He is smarter than she and I put together." (Meaning: "He is smarter than we are when put together.") –  JLG Apr 18 '12 at 2:50
    
In the background wherein I was brought up, it is more polite to say, "He is smarter than she and I put together." –  Blessed Geek Apr 18 '12 at 4:00
    
I was always taught that the sentence should still read if you drop either person. i.e. "He is smarter than she" vs. "He is smarter than her". –  user545424 Apr 18 '12 at 17:36
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, contemporary traditional grammar would call this a "reduced adjective clause." Of course, it's not an adjective at all. It's a verb phrase functioning as a modifier.

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Would any such modifier be effectively an adjectival phrase? Why is it 'not an adjective at all'? –  Kris Apr 18 '12 at 4:52
    
Because adjective is the label for a category of words that share a variety of properties; that is, they typically: are gradable, can be modified by very, function as modifiers in noun phrases, as complements to verbs like be, seem, and become, can become adverbs by adding -ly, etc. To say that this VP is "effectively an adjectival phrase" is like saying that a pig I keep in my house is "effectively a dog" rather than saying it's a pig that functions as a pet. Categories and functions are distinct and confounding them just confuses things. –  Brett Reynolds Apr 18 '12 at 11:44
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It's worth parsing and reducing the sentence.

X is smarter than Y.

X = He. Y = I and she put together*

'put together' is a verb phrase (derived from the verb, 'put') logically grouping 'she' and 'I'.**

although I concur with Blessed Geek that it should be 'she and I put together'. * that is why the suggestion that 'me and her put together' is wrong... because neither is the object of 'is', but rather the passive object of 'put'.

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