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I have a few questions on terminology, first, actually, as having the right terminology may have enabled me to answer this question on my own.

  • What is the terminology for such constructs, "as [adjective] as [noun]"? (Wiktionary seems to label them adjective-based similes—is that correct?)
  • Is the [noun] considered a subject, a direct object, or some other kind of an object?

I feel that [noun] was actually meant to be a complete sentence on its own, e.g. "She is as wonderful as they [are wonderful]," but for convenience we drop repetitive words—is that an accurate view?

If so, then, are sentences like "She's as tall as me" actually ungrammatical? Yet, it seems awkward to say, "She's as tall as I." Is that purely due to a shift in speaking norms?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, TrevorD, p.s.w.g, Kristina Lopez, MetaEd Jul 26 '13 at 22:50

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  • I sense a UK/US division here... I believe that in the US, your [less ]grammatical examples are more common, whereas in the UK people are apt to end declarative sentences with words like "they" and "she." – Tyler James Young Jul 25 '13 at 19:13
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    The name for the as ... as construction is Equative. – John Lawler Jul 25 '13 at 21:13
  • According to Google Ngrams, even in the UK, the less grammatical "as tall as me" is more common than "as tall as I" once you remove verbs after the "I". See Ngram. – Peter Shor Jul 25 '13 at 21:45
  • Thanks, @Mari-LouA! Indeed the answers there fully answer my question. Lacking terminology like accusative and nominative pronouns, I don't think I would've been able to find it myself; maybe this question will help someone else searching as blindly as m... I. ;-) – Andrew Cheong Jul 25 '13 at 21:48
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Wiktionary is not the right place to go for grammatical terminology. Sorry.

First, "adjective-based similes" is not a grammatical term, nor even a technical one,
since it's not clear what it might mean. So that's right out.

As I said in the comment, the name for the construction is "Equative", and there are two varieties, with somewhat different properties and peculiarities. The semantic ones are described in the link. But as I said there, I wasn't going to deal with the syntactic peculiarities.

So here are some. The Equative constructions connects two parallel clauses, with identical material deleted by Conjunction Reduction, so probably the right POS to assign as...as... is "correlative conjunction".

  • She despises mustard. He loves ketchup.
  • She despises mustard as much as he loves ketchup.

  • She despises mustard. He despises ketchup.

  • She despises mustard as much as he despises ketchup.
  • She despises mustard as much as he does ketchup.

  • She despises mustard. He despises mustard.

  • She despises mustard as much as he despises mustard.
  • She despises mustard as much as he does.
  • She despises mustard as much as he.

  • She hates me. She hates him.

  • She hates me as much as she hates him.
  • She hates me as much as she does him.
  • She hates me as much as him.

So the answer about they/them, at least, is to use whatever case the NP being compared uses. If she's comparing her hate for him with her hate for me, use him; if she's comparing the way she hates something with the way he does, use he.

The problem arises when too much has been left out.
Does

  • I like Bill better than Betty.

mean

  • I like Bill better than I like Betty

or does it mean

  • I like Bill better than Betty likes Bill ?

And what happens when you use pronouns?

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