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I have two sentences. The difference is the position of "were" after "longer than".
Can you teach me how they are different, which is better and why?

  1. Inuits of the Bering Sea were isolated from contact with Europeans longer than Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska were.
  2. Inuits of the Bering Sea were isolated from contact with Europeans longer than were Inuits of the North Pacific and northern Alaska.
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  • 1 Reduces to: One group … was isolated longer than the others were. 2 Reduces to One group … was isolated longer than were the others. Than is a conjunction and, in current English, there is no reason to invert the verb and subject. – Greybeard Jun 7 '20 at 11:39
  • Than" is a preposition with a comparative clause as complement. Subject-auxiliary inversion in the comparative clause is probably used here because of the relative weight (length) of the subject, i.e there is quite a bit of material between the head word of the subject and the auxiliary verb. – BillJ Jun 7 '20 at 14:44
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    Note that the sentence can also be restructured in order to avoid the situation: Between Inuits of the Bering Sea, the North Pacific, and northern Alaska, those of the Bering Sea spent the longest period of time isolated from contact with Europeans. – Jason Bassford Jun 7 '20 at 14:46
  • That's obvious, but you should concentrate on the OP's actual examples. – BillJ Jun 8 '20 at 7:17
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1 is the normal word order, but heavy-clause extraposition allows 2 in examples like this, and writers will often choose it for clarity.

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