I am confused between two sentences:
- The houses in the cities are more beautiful than that of villages.
- The houses in the cities are more beautiful than those in the villages.
Which one is more appropriate in usage?
As to which preposition you should use, there is no strict rule about that. However, in your example, I feel that using in the cities with of the villages creates a variation that is needless and slightly less eloquent. You are directly comparing two things (houses) in very similar situations (in cities v. villages). This kind of variation is possible, but stylistically inadvisable, so I would use the same preposition with both. If you were comparing houses in different situations, as in houses along the river are usually larger than those on mountain tops, then you have a good reason to use different prepositions, and you have no other choice anyway.
As to that (singular) v. those (plural), the pronoun should have the same number as the noun it is replacing, which could be either plural or singular, depending on what you mean. If what you mean is this:
Then you would need the singular pronoun. However, the real world makes this sentence nearly impossible, so I'm quite sure you are referring to more than one house: you can't have one house in several villages (plural) in reality. As usual, context restricts your syntactic options. So you must use those here:
As to the article (the cities and the villages), you may have a reason to use the article with one noun and no article with the other; however, I see no such reason here, and you would normally want to use articles consistently in a situation like this, so I would recommend that you use the either with both, or with neither.
The houses in the cities are more beautiful than those in the villages.
is more appropriate. The reasoning is as follows -
If a sentence is of the form X [preposition1] Z [a form of be] [adjective] than [determiner] [preposition2] Y.
and if it follows following rules, then it is always more appropriate than any other sentence that does not follow these rules.
In your example X = The houses, Z = the cities, Y = the villages, preposition1 = in.
The pronouns that, this, these, those must agree with the number they are meant to represent.
This means that the cities have more than one house, but the villages, combined, share a single house which is not as beautiful as any city houses. Probably not what you wanted.
This means that the cities and villages have multiple houses, and that city houses are more beautiful than village houses.
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