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I found confusing the following type of sentence:

Both work out quite well but the dwarf tends to have a bit more vitality than the elf does.

Why do we use does at the end of the sentence to refer to something previously described using "to have"? It looks a bit misplaced. As a counter-argument, the following equivalent sentence sounds okay:

AWS tends to offer more RAM than Microsoft does as the server instances get large

Is there some principle at play here?

Thank you.

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"Does" is not required in either sentence. Often, the verb will be included after "I" to tone down what many consider a too-formal way of speaking. In other words, "He is taller than I am" seems easier for many to accept than "He is taller than I." But in fact the verb is not needed in any of these cases.

Including the verb can also prevent ambiguity in some cases. If your sentence used a plural, for example: saying "the dwarf tends to have a bit more vitality than elves" allows the grammatical possibility that the dwarf has more vitality than he has elves. So, better is: "the dwarf tends to have a bit more vitality than elves do."

But in your sentences, there is no reason to include the "does." Omitting it does not create ambiguity, and it sounds fine (even better, IMO) without it.

  • Very interesting the possibility you describe with a plural. Yes, omitting does simplifies the sentence a lot. For some reason, I thought there was something wrong with the original sentence simply because of its use of have. – Robert Smith Dec 2 '15 at 3:33
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    There is no special rule for "have," though it's possible that this verb, by its nature, leads to confusion more than other verbs. E.g., "He runs faster than me" is ungrammatical, but the meaning is clear. "He has more than me" is both ungrammatical and ambiguous: Does he have more than I have, or does he have me and more besides? The grammar indicates the latter. So, much better is the grammatically correct "He has more than I." But, many writers say, this sounds stilted, old-fashioned. Usually adding the verb fixes this: "He has more than I do." So really, it's a case by case situation. – user66965 Dec 2 '15 at 15:07

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