8

From what I have understood from reading about she/her, I understand that 'she' is to be used as a subject (with the 'be' implied) and 'her' as an object, but I am confused about the usage with similes or comparisons.

eg: 'The Moon is as beautiful as her/she.'

Or are both correct but the subject and object interchanged?

12

It may not sound as "natural" but indeed the correct* version is:

the moon is as beautiful as she.

She is a predicate nominative which is indeed in the subjective case. If you expand the sentence, it becomes clear:

the moon is as beautiful as she [is].

Alternately if you said

she is as beautiful as the moon.

It is clear.

Note that "than" another comparative preposition essentially starts a new clause too:

She is taller than I [am].


*Side Note on the word "correct" in this context:

On a philosophical level, some are questioning whether grammar is prescriptive or descriptive. There is a certain backlash against the usage of the word "correct" amongst those who like to say there are no such things as "rules" when it comes to grammar. Much like New Math there is a style of learning that says rules your English teacher taught you are meant to be broken. Grammar, they say, is strictly descriptive, and it is a poor writer who does not rise up in rebellion against them.

I was intentional in its usage, but wish to clarify. "Correct" means adhering to the "rules" and technically, this would only be possible when looking at a particular style guide or in the confines of an English class or, as in my case, having a mom who was an editor :) Put another way, this is the answer my teacher would have given, and I make no apologies for it. It is perfectly common and understandable to hear "than her" but if you are speaking with your grandma, she'll probably correct you - it is one of those "rules" that for better or worse is out there.

I'm not going to argue whether or not this "rule" exists, because is it does. I'm also not going to argue that the rule is iron clad, because frankly, it isn't. The point of the word "correct" is that amongst grammar nazis, this would be the "correct" rule.

It has a certain linguistic sense to it as well, as explained above. But understand that just because I state it is "correct" does not mean that the opposite isn't common.

Ok, y'all?

  • 2
    There’s scholarly work out there showing that some people do in fact use than as a preposition in certain occasions, an that me is one of them. – tchrist Sep 8 '14 at 12:39
  • 3
    "I am taller than her" sounds just as good as "I am taller than she is". I see nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence "The moon is as beautiful as her" except that it is very odd in a poetic context to compare an inanimate object with a person and refer to the person with an object pronoun. Therefore I prefer "The moon is as beautiful as she [is]." On the other hand, in a more factual context "The sunflower is as tall / taller than her" sounds better than "The sunflower is as tall / taller than she." – Level River St Sep 8 '14 at 14:10
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    @AffableGeek, "as her" is an accepted usage. In English grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive. Because it is an accepted usage, it is grammatical. You may need a new grammar book though! – Ben Sep 8 '14 at 14:28
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    @AffableGeek: modern grammarians agree that than him etc. are perfectly correct, at least in informal style: see, for instance, the (pretty authoritative) Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Ch.5, §16.2.1. It was true in the past that than he etc. were the standard versions, but language evolves. From CGEL: “If the complement of than or as can be expanded by the addition of a verb to which the pronoun is subject, then formal style has a nominative, informal style an accusative.” – PLL Sep 8 '14 at 15:59
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    Mark Liberman has written about this on Language Log a number of times, including Yardley disses the classics. He points out that those use "than <object>" are in the company of many a respected author, and the use goes back literally centuries. It's not an innovation. – Joshua Taylor Sep 8 '14 at 19:40
5

Both are correct, as while the "as her" version is considered not strictly grammatical, English is not a strict language. In English, grammar is descriptive not prescriptive, so whatever is accepted as correct, is correct.

In common speech, it is much more usual to say "as her" or "as me" rather than "as she" or "as I".

Good grammar, but unusual in practice, and sounds odd to most ears:

  • I am cleverer than she.
  • She is cleverer than I.

Strictest grammar, but sounds good to most ears:

  • I am cleverer than she is.
  • She is cleverer than I am.

Loose grammar, but far more common even in written texts:

  • I am cleverer than her.
  • She is cleverer than me.

Essentially, in spoken English, we don't like to end the sentence on the subject form of a pronoun, and if the sentence would end on one we either substitute the object form, or rewrite the sentence so it doesn't end on the pronoun.

  • 4
    I would go so far as to say that the prescriptively correct "as she" does not occur in the natural speech of any native English speaker. – hunter Sep 8 '14 at 15:35
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    I suspect this "rule," like many, was invented by 17th-18th century grammarians, concerned that English did not appear like Latin. – hunter Sep 8 '14 at 15:35
  • 1
    A reference backing up this answer, incidentally: Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Ch.5, §16.2.1. “If the complement of than or as can be expanded by the addition of a verb to which the pronoun is subject, then formal style has a nominative, informal style an accusative.” It discusses whether the standard argument for why they ‘logically should’ be nominatives is sound, and reckons it’s debatable, but concludes “whatever the answer, the accusatives are clearly fully acceptable in informal style.” – PLL Sep 8 '14 at 15:52
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    as she is likely to be used poetically or formally and is more archaic than the usage of as her. Either will do and most native speakers will understand your meaning or intent. However, using as she in speech will mark you out and is best not done unless you are a poet :) – Ian Lewis Sep 8 '14 at 16:34
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    I object to your use of the phrase "good grammar", insinuating that the as her version is "bad grammar". – WinnieNicklaus Sep 8 '14 at 17:33

protected by RegDwigнt Sep 12 '14 at 11:01

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