1

Do the following two sentences have the same or different meaning?

  • I love you more than Tom.

  • I love you more than Tom loves you. (Or, I love you more than Tom does you.)

My concern is that both the sentences seem to differ considerably in their meaning, particularly when three people are mentioned in the sentences. I feel unable, however, to help advanced learners of English to understand why the two sentences seem to have different meanings.

Thanks in advance.

  • This illustrates the classic argument for retaining the nominal case in 'He has more followers than they' – which is unequivocal but sounds very stuffy nowadays. Nouns give more scope for ambiguity as they don't inflect for case: 'He loves you more than Sue'. Often, context may disambiguate. However, adding a 'does' ('He loves you more than Sue does') or repeating the subject ('He loves you more than he loves Sue') always clarifies the meaning. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 15 '14 at 17:54
  • I don't perceive a difference between the two sentences. I also wonder what has given the reporter such a keen insight as to the relative amounts of love the subject has for the concerned parties. – Elliott Frisch Apr 15 '14 at 18:03
  • I've edited your posting for better clarity. If I have failed to do so, feel free to revert to your original version. Along with commenter Elliott Frisch, I think the two sentences seem to mean the same thing, although Edwin Ashworth thinks they do not. Perhaps he "read your mind," thinking you meant to word your first sentence as follows: He loves you more than she [loves you]. Is that it? – rhetorician Apr 15 '14 at 18:12
  • 1
    I think that the edits made to the sentences make the first one more ambiguous than previous commenters indicated. I think it would not be unreasonable to interpret the first sentence as "I love you more than Tom (loves you)", or "I love you more than (I love) Tom" – Trying Apr 15 '14 at 20:34
  • Thanks JakeP, but I, at the same time, wish you ( and others) to provide me with some examples to help learners here to understand how they differ from each others. – user71145 Apr 15 '14 at 20:39
2

The first sentence could be interpreted in two different ways depending on context:

  • I love you more than I love Tom. (most likely the correct definition)

*Think about this example: "I like playing soccer more than basketball." This does not mean "I like playing soccer more than basketball likes playing soccer." The real meaning of this is, "I like playing soccer more than I like playing basketball." The second "I like" has been omitted from the first sentence, similar to how the second "I love" has been omitted from the original sentence.

OR

  • I love you more than Tom loves you.

*Using the original sentence to get this point across is not ideal, as the meaning may be ambiguous. If this were the meaning of the sentence, it would probably be stated as, "I love you more than Tom does," which is equivalent to, "I love you more than Tom loves you."

The second sentence is just how it is stated:

I love you more than Tom loves you.

So, in most (if not all) instances, the two original sentences have different meanings.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.