1

In episode s08e16 (The Intimacy Acceleration) of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon made these statements:

  1. Look, you may not be as academically inclined as are we. Yes, that’s how you say it.

  2. Penny: Well, maybe. But I’m still glad we did it. I do feel closer to you.

    Sheldon: And I, you. And yes, that’s how you say that.

Both sounded rather weird to me (which I'm sure was the intention). The question is, is this really how you say it, and if so, why?

The first sentence seems to make use of subject-verb inversion. In a comparative clause after "than" or "as," inversion "can occur under certain conditions." Is it even grammatical in this case (in the second half of an "equative" phrase of the structure "as x as y")? If so, are there any sources that actually recommend it over the non-inverted form, backing up Sheldon's claim that this is "how you say it"? (On another grammar forum, there is some discussion that says that the use of inversion after "more than," which seems a comparable context, is in fact "deprecated by some grammarians," "censured by Fowler," and "has always been rare.")

2

The first one is an example of Subject–auxiliary inversion, with an elliptical clause:

Subject–auxiliary inversion is used after the anaphoric particle so, mainly in elliptical sentences. The same frequently occurs in elliptical clauses beginning with as.

a. Fred fell asleep, and Jim did too.
b. Fred fell asleep, and so did Jim.
c. Fred fell asleep, as did Jim.

Sheldon's usage is similar to Lincoln's:

It is known to some that while I hope something from the proclamation, my expectations are not as sanguine as are those of some friends.

The inversion isn't mandatory, of course, so I would avoid it.


The second one is also elliptical (but has no inversion). Specifically, it's an example of gapping:

Canonical examples of gapping have a true "gap", which means the elided material appears medially in the non-initial conjuncts, with a remnant to its left and a remnant to its right. The elided material of gapping in all the examples below is indicated with subscripts[...]:

  • Some ate bread, and others ate rice.
  • Fred likes to pet the cat, and Sally likes to pet the dog.
  • Jim has been being observed by me, and Tom has been being observed by you.

Gapping helps to avoid redundancy, but it's possible to avoid it.

  • +1 for the Lincoln quote; that's a nice similar example. – sumelic Nov 4 '16 at 21:06
-3

Try popping in the square brackets:

  1. Look, you may not be as academically inclined as are we [are]. Yes, that’s how you say it.

  2. Penny: Well, maybe. But I’m still glad we did it. I do feel closer to you. Sheldon: And I, you. And yes, that’s how you say that.

It would look like Sheldon is right, though he manages it once more by sounding almost completely incomprehensible...

  • how is he right? "As are we are" is ungrammatical. – sumelic Sep 18 '15 at 11:02
  • Sorry, you're right - I missed that! Bad grammar on my half. His original grammar correct though: Look, you may not be as academically inclined as are we. He is referring to either himself or others in the plural though, much as the Queen does. – HugMyster Sep 21 '15 at 9:29

Your Answer

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