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I think these mean the same thing:

(1) I know more about X than you do.

(3) I know more than you do about X.

In (1), the preposition phrase (PP) about X is part of the main clause, and the comparative clause is you do.

In (3), then, is the PP part of the main or comparative clause? I think both arguments could be made.

If it's part of the main clause, the comparative clause (you do) is the same as in (1), and the PP comes after the comparative clause.

If it's part of the comparative clause, the comparative clause (you do about X) is different than in (1).

Which is correct, and why?

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  • 1
    (1) and (3) are different ways of expressing the same idea - both correct. (2) is not idiomatic English. Mar 24, 2022 at 8:33
  • (2) Would be a rejoinder: "I know about X! I can help!" "I know about X more than you do", but it puts the emphasis on the quality of the knowing rather than the amount known. Granted, that may be effectively the same thing; but (2) is not equivalent to (1) and (3), which are identical. All these comments are a frame challenge to the question, which could be addressed in an answer, perhaps.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 24, 2022 at 8:42
  • 2
    (2) has to treat the VP know about X as a unit to be compared, and the more that occurs before than can't mean 'more knowledge about X' like it does in (1) and (3). Mar 24, 2022 at 16:03
  • Yes; switching 'care' for 'know' makes all three highly idiomatic. Mar 30, 2022 at 15:10
  • Please don't EDIT. You have no answers to upset, so re-work the question to incorporate what you now know.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 1, 2022 at 20:04

2 Answers 2

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+50

Both (1) and (3) are transformations of the basic comparative

  • I know more about X than you know about X.

comparing my degree of knowledge about X with yours. Since there's so much repetition, there can be a lot of deletions, all by rule, of course. As can be seen, about X is contained in both clauses, and so is know. A variety of conjunction reduction deletes repeated or predictable material in comparatives

  • I know more about X than you know. (delete predictable PP)
  • I know more about X than you do. (use do pro-verb for predictable verb)
  • I know more about X than you. (delete predictable verb altogether)
  • I know more about X. (delete than clause in context)

(3) is the result of an extraposition rule that moves the PP to the end. You can decide for yourself what modifies what and what's in which clause. The structures are the important thing, not the labels painted on them.

  • I know more than you know about X.
  • I know more than you do about X.
  • I know more than you about X.
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  • "(3) is the result of an extraposition rule that moves the PP to the end." So do you mean that the PP is part of the main clause but is simply extraposed?
    – JK2
    Apr 3, 2022 at 3:19
  • It's part of both clauses, as I said. It can get deleted in the second clause, and in the first, by different processes. I was looking at it as a movement rule, but it would be just as simple to delete the first clause PP and leave the second. Probly for some people it's one way, and for other people a different way. Individual variation is so vast and widespread that it's rather pointless to worry about links in intermediate constructions in derivations. Apr 3, 2022 at 16:13
  • You said "it would be just as simple to delete the first clause PP and leave the second", but is it really possible to delete part of the main clause of a comparative construction? I thought it was always part of the comparative clause (after 'as' or 'that') that got deleted.
    – JK2
    Apr 4, 2022 at 3:11
  • That's the simplest way to program it, but there's no guarantee that anybody actually does it. "Deletions" and "movements" are always comparisons with expected or prototypical constructions; this isn't stuff that happens in brains or when people speak -- this is analysis with moderately arbitrary categories, and no way to tell if it is "possible to delete part of the main clause of a comparative construction" in general. Apr 4, 2022 at 3:18
-1

I am new here so will edit when I can to fit the rules as I am absorbing them. I just like the process of finding roots and how pieces fit.

In terms of contronym, multi-meanings exist at once, in plurality, based on subtext.

“I know more about X than you
do.” comparative or demeaning? offer to teach? Or deny knowledge? Saying you’ve had the experience of it as warning or advising? Stacking the real meaning of it in contextual/ subtextual clues.

Merrimack-Webster:

“ contronym noun con·​tro·​nym | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌnim
variants: or contranym plural contronyms or contranyms Definition of contronym : a word having two meanings that contradict one another”

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    Apr 4, 2022 at 7:04

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