I ran into a grammar book that claims this sentence as incorrect:

Every year, more tourists travel to Disney World than the Louvre

They are saying it needs to be "...to the Louvre".

Other sources say that second preposition is optional when saying something like

Martha was praised not only for her technique but also (for) her costume.

The only way the first book is correct is if contrasting comparisons are treated differently than comparisons noting a similarity.
Would appreciate any clarifications on who's right?

  • 1
    'Than' is a preposition (of comparison), not a coordinating conjunction, so it doesn't entitle any elisions. – AmI Sep 24 '18 at 14:25
  • @AmI, I think the elision here is not of the preposition to, and than is a conjunction. If it's a preposition and it doesn't entitle the elision of to, two prepositions (than and to) will be there before the Luvre! Than is a coordinating conjunction, and the elision happened is on the clause following it. The full sentence should have been: "Every year, more tourists travel to Disney World than (they travel) to the Louvre". Here, if the second *to is elided, the sentence will become unidiomatic. – mahmud k pukayoor Sep 24 '18 at 17:39
  • No, Mahmud, "than" is a preposition (there are only four coordinators in English: "and", "or", "but" and "nor"). In the OP's example, the comparative clause has been optionally reduced. But in this case the reduction is extreme by virtue of being verbless -- reduced to a single element, "The Louvre". It can be expanded to "Every year, more tourists travel to Disney World than tourists travel to the Louvre", but "tourists" cannot be overt, of course and must be obligatorily omitted. The omission of the verb+prep "travel to" is optional. – BillJ Sep 24 '18 at 18:28
  • I think @mahmud koya is saying that 'than' is a subordinating conjunction with some coordinating (eliding) abilities. I see his point, but then eliding 'to' causes 'the Louvre' to assume the role of subject, which is not what is meant. BillJ may be of the school that lumps subordinating conjunctions with prepositions. Is that right? – AmI Sep 24 '18 at 22:27
  • @BillJ Thanks for correcting me. I thought than here is a conjunction. When I said coordinating conjunction, it was an oversight from my part. Then, as the OP's Grammar book says, is it possible "... than to..." ? (two prepositions together). – mahmud k pukayoor Sep 25 '18 at 7:39

Based only on the grammar, the sentence is ambiguous. Without a preposition, it can be interpreted as

More tourists travel to Disney World than the Louvre travels to Disney World.

(There's a word or phrase for this type of ambiguity, but I can't remember it -- can someone help me with a comment?).

However, grammar isn't everything. This interpretation makes no sense, since the Louvre can't travel, and even if it could, it's just a single object so no one would compare its number to a large group of people.

Conversely, it's well known that both Disney World and the Louvre are tourist destinations. So the parallel is recognized intuitively, and repeating the preposition "to" is not really necessary, it can be elided and will be understood.

In order to remove all elision, you'd have to repeat "travel" as well, e.g.

Every year, more tourists travel to Disney World than travel to the Louvre.

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