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Here is a sentence from the magazine The Economist that I don't understand.

Fully 5.8m more Americans are in work than in December of that year, when the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates. That is two-thirds as many as lost their jobs during the Great Recession.

The italicized sentence is the one that confuses me. Shouldn't it be "That is two-thirds as many as those who lost their jobs during the Great Recession?"

I hardly believe The Economist made a mistake in that sentence. Can anyone tell me why the sentence is correct as it is and, if there is any, what words might have been omitted from that sentence?

Thank you.

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The Economist did not make a mistake.

This sentence is short for

That is two-thirds as many [Americans] as lost their jobs during the Great Recession.

The Cambridge Dictionary explains this:

Much, many, a lot, lots: without a noun
We usually leave out the noun after much, many and a lot, lots when the noun is obvious.

Looking in dictionaries, it appears that some classify many in this usage as a pronoun and some as an adjective. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary has the following example sentence under the adjective definition of many:

Not everyone could get a seat, and many were unhappy with having to stand,

while the OED has the following example under the pronoun definition:

To most people he was only one knave of many.

  • I'm not sure this addresses the "missing" "those who". – We oath to creation Feb 15 at 12:49
  • @Keepthesemind: The words "those who" don't belong in the sentence. Let me think about how to address this. – Peter Shor Feb 15 at 13:05
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Fully 5.8m more Americans are in work than in December of that year, when the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates. That is two-thirds as many as lost their jobs during the Great Recession.

This is perfectly grammatical and natural, as most Economist articles should be.

Apparently, the difficulty some non-native speakers have with this kind of comparative construction arises from the fact that the comparative clause lacks its subject as here.

That is two-thirds as many as [_____ lost their jobs during the Great Recession].

The comparative clause is noted with the bracket and the lacking subject with the blank.

This sentence compares 'that' (5.8m) with the number of Americans who "lost their jobs during the Great Recession" by saying this:

(1) 'That' is x many;

(2) y many lost their jobs during the Great Recession; and

(3) x = (2/3)*y; y = 8.7m

Since you're comparing x with y, you can't repeat 'y many' as the subject of the comparative clause.

*That is two-thirds as many as Americans lost their jobs during the Great Recession.

OR

*That is two-thirds as many as 8.7m Americans lost their jobs during the Great Recession.

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as2 Adverb

1.1 Used to emphasize an amount.

'as many as twenty-two rare species may be at risk'

OOD

Looks proper to me.

EDIT Mitch, you are right. The two-thirds as many as lost their jobs is an amount. So the phrasing "as many as" is used in the OP's sentence to call attention to this amount. Two-thirds is not insignificant. Therefore the usage by The Economist looks proper to me.

  • This needs a lot more to be an answer. Just a link to a definition doesn't explain. Then again, the OP is not explicit about what exactly they don't understand in the sentence. – Mitch Feb 6 at 23:16

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