These days I have come across lines similar to "He reads other than mathematical books" or "Please discuss other than political matters", for which I feel the correct forms are "He reads books other than mathematical books" or "Please discuss matters other than political matters" respectively.

How far is the first form correct? Is it wrong to use that form?

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    Both forms listed in the title sound wrong to me. I'd go with "He reads things other than mathematical books" and "Please discuss topics other than political matters". Both forms avoid repitition. – Doc Feb 4 '14 at 16:17
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    Google search for "reads other than*books" = 8 results (many of which are this question) "discuss other than political" = 9 results. Although they can be clearly understood, where are you coming across these phrases? – CoolHandLouis Feb 4 '14 at 16:26
  • Doing the same google search for "reads other than books" leads to "What are some of your favorite YA reads, other than Imogen's books?" and "I need some good reads other than architecture books." Both of those constructions are [more] correct (so long as you're ok with the use of 'reads' to essentially mean 'books'). – Doc Feb 4 '14 at 16:35

They're valid, though clumsy in the examples, but then the suggested alternatives are also clumsy in the examples.

In each case, meaning is clear; "other than [noun]" is a noun-phrase that means those things that are not what the noun indicates.

Two examples I can find are:

From the moment of our introduction, he talked so comprehensively and quickly that I felt no need to ask other than occasional questions. — Anthony Hlynka, The Honourable Member for Vegreville

In fact, many women did not easily ask other than close kin for support. — Franz von Benda-Beckmann & Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Social Security Between Past and Future

These are fairer examples of the form. There would be nothing to gain in making them "ask questions other than…" or "people other than…".

The two examples in the question I would rephrase, but I would rephrase them entirely, e.g. "He doesn't just read mathematical books".

  • +1 but I do want to note that this usage is uncommon and does sound odd to many English speakers. – MrHen Mar 11 '14 at 21:33

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