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Is using "what" before the clause necessary in some sentences with the structure as <adverb> as <clause>?

For example,

The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring as what I normally receive.

Or, would the sentence be better off if I just used "than" instead?

The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring than what I normally receive.

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    To use "than" you would need "more" before. "twice more than"...
    – fev
    Jan 22 '21 at 11:45
  • The "what" should not be there. It serves no purpose. Have a look at "What as a relative pronoun" - englishgrammar.org/relative-pronoun
    – Greybeard
    Jan 22 '21 at 11:53
  • @Greybeard I must disagree. This is related to a common misconception nohat's answer points out. I am taller than he [is] is more "traditionally correct" (I'd drop traditionally) than I am taller than him [is?]. By the same token, this sentence implies a does: The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring as what I normally receive (order) [does]. The what I normally receive refers to an item, not strawberry flavouring. Jan 22 '21 at 12:03
  • @niamulbengali That cannot be the case: How would you know what what refers to? You would have to say "as the one I normally receive" Remove the "what" and you have a good sentence. "as I normally receive" is an adjectival clause modifying "flavouring" - there is no need for the what. Have a look at the link I provided. :)
    – Greybeard
    Jan 22 '21 at 12:10
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    @Greybeard,niamulbengali: OP's text is syntactically ambiguous - we can parse it as (1) ...as the normal milkshake OR (2) ...as the normal amount of flavouring. I'm not sure that semantically it makes any difference, though. Jan 22 '21 at 12:22
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This usage of what is:

what ... 2b: that which : the one or ones that

  • no income but what he gets from his writings

[Merriam-Webster]

So

  • The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring as what I normally receive.

=

  • The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring as that which I normally receive [has/does].

Even the version with 'what' sounds slightly unnatural; I'd say omitting 'what' leads to loss of idiomaticity. It certainly adds ambiguity, with the 'normally receive per day' etc reading probably the default.

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  • Have a look at the examples in the link I give in my first comment above. as what I normally receive must remind you of Ernie Wise's intentionally comical "The play what I wrote." I cannot see the ambiguity: you may wish to explain it.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 22 '21 at 14:23
  • The difference being that EW used 'what' for 'which', not 'that which'. // 'The strawberry milkshake I ordered has twice as much strawberry flavouring as that amount of strawberry flavouring which I normally receive.' Jan 22 '21 at 14:33
  • Hmm. "that which" is not necessary either - it is pleonastic. Try adding "what"/"that which" to 1875 J. H. Newman Let. 29 Oct. in J. Keble Occas. Papers (1877) p. xiii He had as little aim at literary success in what he wrote, as most authors have a thirst for attaining it. and I'm sure you'll agree that it adds nothing - less is more...
    – Greybeard
    Jan 22 '21 at 15:45

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