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I had an internet argument about grammar (unwise, I know) on a headline that read:

The Food Gap Is Widening - Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse.

I argued that the sentence meant:

Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse [than ever].

He argued that it wasn't a sentence, and that the headline read:

Wealthy people are eating better than ever, while the poor are eating worse [than before now].

Edit: to clarify, "than before now" to him meant "in the last 10 years or so", which was the time period covered in the article, as opposed to "than ever before". This was in response to a third party pointing out that the poor [in the US] probably do not eat worse than ever before, as a lot more people used to starve to death than they do now. /Edit

I still think I am correct, but I had a hard time finding any resources on the topic. It was even hard to find what I was looking for. This is a form of Zeugma?

Is there anything I can look up that would be more definitive on the topic?

  • If he was right, why was it not Wealthy people are eating better than before now, while the poor are eating worse [than before now]. Than ever MEANS than before now – mplungjan Sep 4 '14 at 15:14
  • It could be that the poor are eating worse than the wealthy, but while that's almost certainly true it's unlikely to be what is meant. – Andrew Leach Sep 4 '14 at 15:21
  • @mplungjan: Maybe the friend is using "than before now" to mean "than recently" (e.g., "than any time since the last time we checked" or "than any time in the past n years"). – Scott Sep 4 '14 at 18:10
  • @Scott: that's exactly what he argued the headline meant. I've edited the post to reflect this. I disagree that it's a valid interpretation of the headline as written, but I'm trying to figure out who's right and why. – neonKow Sep 4 '14 at 19:08
  • I'd put this as "answer" but I don't think answering a question with a question qualifies :-P Why don't you track down the author and ask her what she really intended? (I wonder if one reason contention arose is because the underlying problem seems to be one of logic not grammar. This might qualify as an instance of Fuzzy Logic...) – Howard Pautz Sep 5 '14 at 19:03
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In my opinion, it's the editor of the newspaper who is wrong. Your grammatical interpretation is correct, however the editor most likely did not mean that because it is not true that they are eating worse than ever before.

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