0

I have been blessed beyond measure in having friends far wiser and more learned than me.

My gut reaction to this sentence was that "I am" should've been used in place of "me." Because the speaker was someone I know to be a brilliant writer and orator, I'm certain my gut reaction was wrong. Can someone explain why?

3

3 Answers 3

2

It is a question of whether one is using "than" as a conjunction (in which case the choice would be "than I am") or as a preposition (in which case "than me" is acceptable.) There is an informative discussion of this distinction in the use of "than", and which is preferred, on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/than

4
  • 2
    Please transfer the important points here so that your answer can be self-contained without making people go somewhere else to find it.
    – tchrist
    Mar 3 at 0:50
  • @Green In contemporary grammar "than" is always a preposition, never a conjunction. Don't use dictionaries for grammar, especially MW!
    – BillJ
    Mar 3 at 10:50
  • BillJ, you are mistaken about the use of "than" in contemporary grammar. It is certainly contemporary English to say "John is taller than I am", or "Grandma always prepares more food than we can eat", and in neither of those sentences is "than" used as a preposition. Mar 4 at 0:14
  • @GreenWhiteBlue Yes, It's fine to say "John is taller than I am", but "than" is a preposition there. Most dictionaries are out-of-step with modern grammar, but Wiktionary gets it right. See here: link
    – BillJ
    Mar 5 at 12:12
0

I might prefer the more emphatic myself1 in OP's context, in keeping with relatively "marked" upmarket / antiquated adjectival two-syllable more learned. But as this usage chart shows, all three pronouns occur...

enter image description here

Note how use of me rises significantly with the more everyday cleverer...

enter image description here

...which I think reflects the fact that although I is the "strictly correct" form for grammarians, in less formal contexts, me puts up a significant showing.


1 I'm not big on prescriptive grammar, but I suspect a formal case could be made for myself in such contexts. It's just not very common. Also note that usage charts for I will be somewhat skewed by things like ...than I thought.

0

[1] I have been blessed beyond measure in having friends far wiser and more learned than [I __ ].

[2] I have been blessed beyond measure in having friends far wiser and more learned than [me __ ].

[3] I have been blessed beyond measure in having friends far wiser and more learned than [I am __ ].

All three comparatives are possible.

If the pronoun is understood as subject , as it is here, the choice of case depends on style. In formal style it appears as nominative, [1], just as it does in the unreduced clause, [3].

In informal style it is accusative, as in [2] where the missing verb cannot be inserted.

I suspect that most speakers would find [1] excessively formal and [2] obtrusively informal, and opt for [3]. I know I would.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.