In the following sentence,

Ty and Chris care more about Arsene Wenger than they do Arsenal.

What is the proper name for the role of the verb do here in the context of grammar?

For example, the role of they in this sentence is pronoun since it replaces the phrase Ty and Chris to avoid duplication. The same goes for do which replaces the phrase care about, but do is a verb so it is definitely not a pronoun. What is the correct name of it?

  • I would say "than they do about Arsenal" but I don't know if the way you put it is incorrect. It doesn't sound good to me though – sumelic Feb 24 '17 at 5:27
  • @sumelic The sentence comes from a native English speaker in this video (youtube.com/watch?v=pcbykRVcn7Y) at around 56 seconds. But even if you are right, the role of do should be the same with or without the about. – cr001 Feb 24 '17 at 5:30
  • I suppose so. Maybe the answers to the following question will be helpful: should one invert syntax for the verb “do” in a comparison? It's not the same question, but it seems to be about the same construction – sumelic Feb 24 '17 at 5:31
  • @sumelic Thank you. It seems someone in that question calls it auxiliary verb, would you say it also applies to the do in the sentence of my question? – cr001 Feb 24 '17 at 5:38
  • @cr001 a rather offtopic and a personal comment : But you can hardly expect Ty and Chris to be linguistically correct after brutal 5-1. #WengerOut – Suyash Thite Feb 24 '17 at 7:09

"Do" is one of the English auxiliaries like "is" or "will". English auxiliaries are characterized by the "NICE" grammatical properties, which are described by this series of slides by Geoff Pullum.

  • N: special negation syntax/negative forms (do not, don't)
  • I: can take Initial position in Interrogatives
  • C: "Code" interpretation of Complement ellipsis (your example shows ellipsis)
  • E: special emphasized forms when stressed

Auxiliaries are usually classified as "verbs" and therefore called "auxiliary verbs", although I've heard from Greg Lee that there are some theories of syntax that treat them as not being verbs.

  • Is there really VP ellipsis here though? Are the gaps there because of the comparative clause? "Bob ate more melons than Maria oranges" – Araucaria Feb 24 '17 at 14:44
  • @Araucaria: I don't know the technical definition of ellipsis. Wikipedia seems to categorize comparatives as an example of ellipsis – sumelic Feb 24 '17 at 15:18
  • I think your intuitions are right there. What I was angling at, I think, is whether this is really "code" in the same way. (shrugs) – Araucaria Feb 24 '17 at 20:59

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