I/me: She is smarter than me / She is smarter than I am (?)

Jasonismo

Member
English; USA
Greetings,

(BTW: I was delighted to find such a great website! Thanks to everyone who finds time and interest to reply.)

===
Q.1

My question is about making comparisons -- which of the following constructions is correct?

(1) "She is smarter than me."
(2) "She is smarter than I am."

My feeling is that (2) should be correct because what's being compared is essentially a verb, so a verb should appear in the second clause. (Am I correct? Please explain.)

---
Q.2

Which of the following is correct?

(1) "She has more apples than me."
(2) "She has more apples than I do."

Again, my feeling is that (2) should be correct for the reasons I stated in Q.1. (Am I correct?)

---
Q.3

Am I understanding the differences here:

(1) "Jane likes Joe more than me." -- In this case "me" is a direct object of Jane's liking. What's being compared here is Jane's liking of Joe vs. her liking of me. [Am I correct here?]

(2) "Jane likes Joe more than I." -- In this case, "I" is also a subject of the verb "likes". What's being compared here is the difference between Jane's liking and my liking of Joe. [Am I correct here?]

---

Thanks for reviewing my thinking processes here and correcting me where necessary.

Jasonismo
 
  • Falcons508

    Banned
    United States- English
    Greetings,

    (BTW: I was delighted to find such a great website! Thanks to everyone who finds time and interest to reply.)

    ===
    Q.1

    My question is about making comparisons -- which of the following constructions is correct?

    (1) "She is smarter than me."
    (2) "She is smarter than I am."

    My feeling is that (2) should be correct because what's being compared is essentially a verb, so a verb should appear in the second clause. (Am I correct? Please explain.)

    ---
    Q.2

    Which of the following is correct?

    (1) "She has more apples than me."
    (2) "She has more apples than I do."

    Again, my feeling is that (2) should be correct for the reasons I stated in Q.1. (Am I correct?)

    ---
    Q.3

    Am I understanding the differences here:

    (1) "Jane likes Joe more than me." -- In this case "me" is a direct object of Jane's liking. What's being compared here is Jane's liking of Joe vs. her liking of me. [Am I correct here?]

    (2) "Jane likes Joe more than I." -- In this case, "I" is also a subject of the verb "likes". What's being compared here is the difference between Jane's liking and my liking of Joe. [Am I correct here?]

    ---

    Thanks for reviewing my thinking processes here and correcting me where necessary.

    Jasonismo

    Q1= 2
    Q2= 2
    Q3= 2

    Im pretty sure you are all right.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Jasonismo,

    Your thought processes are right on target! You've come to the correct conclusion in each case (congratulations!).

    I would point out that you may use, but do not have to use the extra verb at the end of a sentence such as ""She has more apples than I (do)." Keep the second verb if it makes you feel more secure about your answer, but it's not really necessary (I sometimes think it, but usually don't say or write it!).

    Good work,
    Joelline
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Greetings,
    My question is about making comparisons -- which of the following constructions is correct?

    (1) "She is smarter than me."
    (2) "She is smarter than I am."
    Jason, something is missing here. Let's drop the word "correct". Let's talk instead about levels of formality.

    1) "She is smarter than me."
    2) "She is smarter than I."
    3) "She is smarter than I am."

    Number one is perfectly acceptable in relaxed conversation. It is extremely common, and if you assume that anyone who uses this construction is uneducated or is using sub-standard English, I think you are on very shaky ground. However, it is all but damned in most grammars and style sheets of the kind that are used to prescribe what is and is not correct in formal situations, most of all in writing.

    Number two is always correct. However, to many people it sounds a bit stilted or stiff when used informally.

    Number three is really a compromise. The final "am" after "I" is totally unnecessary, although it is by no means wrong. Many people add it because it softens the potential stiffness in conversation that some people sense.

    Compare these:

    My wife is more forgiving than I.
    My wife is more forgiving than I am.

    Many people in this forum adhere more to prescriptivist rules than I.
    Many people in this forum adhere more to prescriptivist rules than I do.

    How do you feel with and without that extra word at the end?

    The same logic applies here:

    Which of the following is correct?

    1) "She has more apples than me."
    2) "She has more apples than I."
    3) "She has more apples than I do."


    Again, many people use form number three in conversation to avoid the conflict about using "me" without sounding stiff. (It is all a matter of style. If you prefer "three", by all means use it. It will always be grammatically correct.)

    This is different:
    (1) "Jane likes Joe more than me." -- In this case "me" is a direct object of Jane's liking. What's being compared here is Jane's liking of Joe vs. her liking of me. [Am I correct here?]
    Yes, you are correct. Jane likes Joe, Jane likes me. Jane prefers Joe to me.

    I think your grasp of the grammar is perfect. :)

    Gaer
     

    Jasonismo

    Member
    English; USA
    Gaer,

    Thanks for your insights. I am in agreement with you.

    I think, for me, in order to balance my language-anality with my desire to be socially "acceptable," I'll stick with adding the extra verb at the end of the comparison. (I.e., "she is smarter than I AM", emphasis added.)

    Although, I must confess, I do feel a sort of private intolerance upon hearing the first form (i.e., "she is smarter than me"). But thankfully, I gave up verbally correcting others' grammar a long time ago (also, I find myself correcting them in my head to please myself, but that's another matter *grin*).

    Thanks again. (God, I love this site.)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Gaer,

    Thanks for your insights. I am in agreement with you.

    I think, for me, in order to balance my language-anality with my desire to be socially "acceptable," I'll stick with adding the extra verb at the end of the comparison. (I.e., "she is smarter than I AM", emphasis added.)
    I generally use the same solution in writing, and sometimes I use it in conversation. ;)
    Although, I must confess, I do feel a sort of private intolerance upon hearing the first form (i.e., "she is smarter than me").
    Here I differ.

    "I taught him how to play pool, and now he's better than me. When did that happen?"

    I consider that relaxed, informal and in no way wrong!

    (But one must not use it on a test if one cares about one's grade-point average…) :D

    Gaer
     

    paddycarol

    Senior Member
    Chinese, China
    "Jane likes Joe more than I."
    Could I understand the above sentence in this way:
    Jane likes Joe. I like Joe. Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe.:confused: Please feel free to correct me.:)
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    "Jane likes Joe more than I."
    Could I understand the above sentence in this way:
    Jane likes Joe. I like Joe. Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe.:confused: Please feel free to correct me.:)
    yes, in this instance the comparison being made is who likes Joe more. (as opposed to the sentence "Jane likes Joe more than me." where the comparison being made is who Jane likes more)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    "Jane likes Joe more than I."
    Could I understand the above sentence in this way:
    Jane likes Joe. I like Joe. Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe.:confused: Please feel free to correct me.:)
    I get the same sense that you do.

    However, I would prefer this:

    "Jane likes Joe more than I do."

    Here I prefer "do" on the end, to make the meaning clear. :)
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    (1) "She is smarter than me."
    (2) "She is smarter than I am."
    She is smarter than I.
    There is no need for the verb to be repeated.
    We would not say "the big brick falls faster than the little brick falls." The second verb, when it is identical to the first, is redundant.

    (1) "She has more apples than me."
    (2) "She has more apples than I do."
    She has more apples than I
    Same reasoning as above.

    (1) "Jane likes Joe more than me." -- In this case "me" is a direct object of Jane's liking. What's being compared here is Jane's liking of Joe vs. her liking of me. [Am I correct here?]

    (2) "Jane likes Joe more than I." -- In this case, "I" is also a subject of the verb "likes". What's being compared here is the difference between Jane's liking and my liking of Joe. [Am I correct here?]
    This opens up scope for misunderstanding and the second verb is definitely needed.
    Jane likes Joe more than … (more than what?)
    a. More than Jane likes me,
    b. More than I like Joe

    To clear this up you would need to say either
    a. Jane likes Joe more than she likes me,
    or
    Jane likes Joe more than I do.

    It would be grammatical to say, for the case of (a) "Jane likes Joe more than me" and for the case of (b) Jane likes Joe more than I —> but, as so many people are not grammatically literate they might be confused and so we need to make sure we are understood.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    She is smarter than I.
    There is no need for the verb to be repeated.
    We would not say "the big brick falls faster than the little brick falls." The second verb, when it is identical to the first, is redundant.
    Did you even take the time to read what I wrote in message 5? :confused:
    1) "She is smarter than me."
    2) "She is smarter than I."
    3) "She is smarter than I am."

    Number one is perfectly acceptable in relaxed conversation. It is extremely common, and if you assume that anyone who uses this construction is uneducated or is using sub-standard English, I think you are on very shaky ground. However, it is all but damned in most grammars and style sheets of the kind that are used to prescribe what is and is not correct in formal situations, most of all in writing.

    Number two is always correct. However, to many people it sounds a bit stilted or stiff when used informally.
    I think you are forgetting that such discussions involve people from around the world. The fact there is "no need for the verb to be repeated" is not the question here.

    Perhaps where you live, the addition of an "unnecessary verb" makes no difference. Where I live, and I believe this is true in large parts of the US, the sentence without the extra verb sounds stiff.

    I will be shocked if I am the only person living in the US who feels this way.

    Gaer
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Did you even take the time to read what I wrote in message 5? :confused:

    What's the problem? I said the same thing as you in a different way. Do you require that I announce my agreement? I wasn't responding to 'you', I was responding to the questioner.

    Sorry if you feel aggrieved.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    What's the problem? I said the same thing as you in a different way.
    I don't think so.
    maxiogee said:
    She is smarter than I.
    There is no need for the verb to be repeated.
    We would not say "the big brick falls faster than the little brick falls." The second verb, when it is identical to the first, is redundant.
    I think your advice is misleading. If by "no need" you mean that the extra verb is not needed to pass a test, I agree with you. But you appear view these two sentences the same way:

    1) "She is smarter than I am."
    2) "The big brick falls faster than the little brick falls."

    The first sentence is completely natural sounding in the area in which I live. The second is not.

    You have completely ignored the whole problem of regional differences in language. In my opinion this makes your response to the questioner misleading because it is incomplete.
     

    haywire

    Senior Member
    US - English
    I was about to say what gaer's last post (and other posts) said.

    In California it's either "She's smarter than I am." or "She smarter than me."

    Never in a million years would it cross my mind to say (or write) "She is smarter than I." or "You have more apples than I." ecc

    In California without the "am" or without saying "me" at the end it just doesn't sound right.

    Grammatically, like was stated, it's correct, just doesn't sound pleasing to the ear.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Greetings,

    (BTW: I was delighted to find such a great website! Thanks to everyone who finds time and interest to reply.)

    ===
    Q.1

    My question is about making comparisons -- which of the following constructions is correct?

    (1) "She is smarter than me."
    (2) "She is smarter than I am."

    My feeling is that (2) should be correct because what's being compared is essentially a verb, so a verb should appear in the second clause. (Am I correct? Please explain.)

    ---
    Q.2

    Which of the following is correct?

    (1) "She has more apples than me."
    (2) "She has more apples than I do."

    Again, my feeling is that (2) should be correct for the reasons I stated in Q.1. (Am I correct?)

    ---
    Q.3

    Am I understanding the differences here:

    (1) "Jane likes Joe more than me." -- In this case "me" is a direct object of Jane's liking. What's being compared here is Jane's liking of Joe vs. her liking of me. [Am I correct here?]

    (2) "Jane likes Joe more than I." -- In this case, "I" is also a subject of the verb "likes". What's being compared here is the difference between Jane's liking and my liking of Joe. [Am I correct here?]

    ---

    Thanks for reviewing my thinking processes here and correcting me where necessary.

    Jasonismo

    The one pair of sentences which I find problematical is Jane likes Joe more than me. and Jane likes Joe more than I.The problem with the first is that it is ambiguous: It can mean either "Jane likes Joe more than she likes me." or "Jane likes John more than I like John." The problem with Jane likes Joe more than I is that it sounds odd. For the intended meaning, I would write Jane likes Joe more than I do. (For the same reason, I would avoid She is smarter than I. and She has more apples than I.)

    In the case of the other sentences, me/I am and me/I do are both standard--and in formal usage, not just informal. When me is used, than is being used as a preposition (thus making me the grammatically appropriate form for the object of a preposition). Than has been used in that fashion for half a millennium, and has been used by some of our most respected writers. See the article personal pronouns after than in the American Heritage Book of English Usage.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    The one pair of sentences which I find problematical is Jane likes Joe more than me. and Jane likes Joe more than I.The problem with the first is that it is ambiguous: It can mean either "Jane likes Joe more than she likes me." or "Jane likes John more than I like John." The problem with Jane likes Joe more than I is that it sounds odd. For the intended meaning, I would write Jane likes Joe more than I do. (For the same reason, I would avoid She is smarter than I. and She has more apples than I.)

    Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the first sentence "Jane likes Joe more than [he does] me" is ambiguous at all. The meaning with the object pronoun is clearly stating Jane's preference for Joe over me. Similarly, "Jane likes Joe better than I [do]" is clearly stating Jane's stronger prefrence for Joe than my own preference for Joe.

    Of course, we could eliminate all ambiguity by just rephrasing both sentences by putting in the words in brackets (though I don't think they are essential).

    What do you think?
    Joelline
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the first sentence "Jane likes Joe more than [he does] me" is ambiguous at all. [...]
    I agree - I don't find it at all ambiguous. I think it can only mean one thing and that is that Jane likes Joe more than she likes me.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I agree - I don't find it at all ambiguous. I think it can only mean one thing and that is that Jane likes Joe more than he likes me.

    Whether it is ambiguous is an empirical question: We could determine the answer by looking up such sentences in electronic corpora and deciding from the context whether some of the writers used than as a preposition rather than a conjunction in such sentences. Even if, say, only one out of a hundred writers used than as a preposition in such a sentence, then as a practical matter, writing than me in such a sentence cannot guarantee that the meaning intended by the author will be understood by the reader.

    It would be a lot of work to determine this, of course, so I think we should rely on common sense to guide us. People are used to using than as a preposition in all sorts of sentences, and even those people who do not themselves use than as a preposition are used to hearing it used with that function in all sorts of sentences. As a result, the likelihood is extremely high that a sentence such as Jane likes Joe more than me. will be perceived by the average reader to be ambiguous.
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    Whether it is ambiguous is an empirical question: We could determine the answer by looking up such sentences in electronic corpora [...]
    It would be a lot of work to determine this, of course, so I think we should rely on common sense to guide us.[...]
    Why complicate it?
    Jane likes Joe more than me (Jane likes Joe. Jane likes me. - you cannot say Jane likes I.)
    Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe].
    As a result, the likelihood is extremely high that a sentence such as Jane likes Joe more than me. will be perceived by the average reader to be ambiguous.
    As an average reader, am I not allowed an opinion? My response was to Joelline's (post#19) query whether or not anyone else found it ambiguous.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Why complicate it?
    Jane likes Joe more than me (Jane likes Joe. Jane likes me. - you cannot say Jane likes I.)
    Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe].
    As an average reader, am I not allowed an opinion? My response was to Joelline's (post#19) query whether or not anyone else found it ambiguous.
    There is a problem.

    There are people who claim that these two have the same meaning, that the first is merely "ungrammatical". For these people, this is true:

    Jane likes Joe more than me = Jane likes Joe more than I do = Jane likes Joe more than I.

    If you use this reasoning, then it is quite possible to read this as meaning:

    Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe.

    However, those of us who use the "Jane likes Joe more than me" construction, it is almost automatic to read it as meaning:

    Jane likes Joe more than she likes me.

    You have to think about it a little bit, but there are two possible meanings.

    Here is an example, adding context and slightly modifying the structure:

    My good friend Jane and I don't agree about Joe. Jane likes Joe a lot more than me, which is strange. Usually we agree about people, but this time we don't.

    In this situation replacing "me" with "I do" would get rid of any potential ambiguity. :)

    Gaer
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the first sentence "Jane likes Joe more than [he does] me" is ambiguous at all. The meaning with the object pronoun is clearly stating Jane's preference for Joe over me. Similarly, "Jane likes Joe better than I [do]" is clearly stating Jane's stronger prefrence for Joe than my own preference for Joe.

    Of course, we could eliminate all ambiguity by just rephrasing both sentences by putting in the words in brackets (though I don't think they are essential).

    What do you think?
    Joelline

    I think you've omitted an 's' in there in the brackets and have controverted the whole meaning, that's what I think :D
     

    haywire

    Senior Member
    US - English
    If I were to hear:

    "Jane likes Joe more than me."

    It would register in my brain (and did when I read it) that Jane likes Joe more than she likes me. In all honesty it took me a minute to figure out (without reading all the replies) what the other meaning could be.

    "Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe]."

    Even though I never recollect saying, or hearing such a thing without a "do/did" at the end I would take away from it that Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe.

    Didn't read all the replies I'm just adding what registered in my brain when I first read it.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Why complicate it?
    Jane likes Joe more than me (Jane likes Joe. Jane likes me. - you cannot say Jane likes I.)
    Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe].

    In fact, it is insisting upon artificial rules which contrast with actual usage which complicates things. My contention is that Jane likes Joe more than me. is ambiguous because some readerswhether or not they themselves use than as a preposition in such a case—will not be certain they know the meaning intended by the writer. Your artificial rule would lead a person to believe what is false, that the sentence is unambiguous, and would actually lead a person to err if the intended meaning was that the writer liked Joe more than Jane did. When an artificial rule leads one to believe that which is false, or otherwise leads one into error, it is best discarded.
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    In fact, it is insisting upon artificial rules which contrast with actual usage which complicates things. My contention is that Jane likes Joe more than me. is ambiguous because some readerswhether or not they themselves use than as a preposition in such a case—will not be certain they know the meaning intended by the writer. Your artificial rule would lead a person to believe what is false, that the sentence is unambiguous, and would actually lead a person to err if the intended meaning was that the writer liked Joe more than Jane did. When an artificial rule leads one to believe that which is false, or otherwise leads one into error, it is best discarded.
    :confused:I am not stating any rules - artificial, real or otherwise - merely an opinion which is that I don't find either sentence ambiguous.
    What was there in my post which could be referred to as a rule? Unless you're referring to...
    You can't say "Jane likes I"
    Well, that's hardly a rule, even if I did say that ;)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    :confused:I am not stating any rules - artificial, real or otherwise - merely an opinion which is that I don't find either sentence ambiguous.
    What was there in my post which could be referred to as a rule? Unless you're referring to... Well, that's hardly a rule, even if I did say that ;)

    In my opinion, Jane likes Joe more than me. has an ambiguous meaning.

    The opinions of two or three people on a question of English usage are of little consequence in themselves, of course. But in the current case, there is an important empirical question involved: Whether sentences of the type Jane likes Joe more than me. are being written with than used as a preposition; that is, whether anyone saying a sentence of the type Jane like Joe more than me. intends to convey the meaning "Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe."

    If they are, than the opinion that Jane likes Joe more than me. does not have an ambiguous meaning would have been proven to be unhelpful to the person holding it, since such a person would inevitably at some point be lead into error by holding that opinion—thinking a writer was saying something different from what the writer intended. And such a question can indeed be studied empirically.

    I would contend, then, that this controversy is a case where the opposing opinions cannot be considered equally valid.
     

    Trina

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    [...]I would contend, then, that this controversy is a case where the opposing opinions cannot be considered equally valid.
    In most cases, with perhaps the exception being in an exam situation (in which case only grammatically correct answers are valid), we generally have more context available to us so that ambiguity is not really an issue and if it were, we could ask for clarity.

    Standing alone, these two sentences I believe do have different meanings from each other and if they were on an exam paper, they would only have one grammatically-based correct meaning. There would be no points given for answering that they were ambiguous.

    Jane likes Joe more than me. = Jane likes Joe more than [she does] me.
    Jane likes Joe more than me likes Joe. I don’t believe it works because of the pronoun used.
    Jane likes Joe more than I. = Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe]. Isn’t there only one grammatically-based correct answer? For it to mean Jane likes Joe more than she likes me, wouldn’t the pronoun have to be me rather than I?

    Let’s say, for argument sake, the above is true …

    Yes, I agree some people may find it ambiguous but does that mean it is ambiguous?
    Let’s say I am learning a language and therefore do not know all the grammatical rules or idioms of that language and I therefore misinterpret a sentence I read. Other people make the same mistake as I do, does that make the sentence ambiguous?
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In spoken English English the forms with me and I followed by a verb group are most usually used.

    "She is smarter than me."
    "She is smarter than I am."

    The second form is especially useful for sentences such as:

    "She is smarter than I'll ever be."
    "She is smarter than I ever could be."
    "She is smarter than I want to be."

    "She is smarter than I" is not usually used.

    If you go around always using the I am form, listeners would think that you have no knowledge of the me form - that you missed that part of the lesson! It's best to use both since they are interchangeable.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    "She is smarter than I" is not usually used.
    I have consistently said that "she is smarter than I" is a bit stiff sounding in most places in the US.

    However, we have people participating in this forum from all around the world, so unless you have extensive experience regarding how people talk in many different countries, I would say:

    "She is smarter than I" is not usually used informally in most parts of the US. :)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    In most cases, with perhaps the exception being in an exam situation (in which case only grammatically correct answers are valid), we generally have more context available to us so that ambiguity is not really an issue and if it were, we could ask for clarity.

    Standing alone, these two sentences I believe do have different meanings from each other and if they were on an exam paper, they would only have one grammatically-based correct meaning. There would be no points given for answering that they were ambiguous.

    Any exam question which did not recognize that Jane likes Joe more than me. is ambiguous would be a poorly written one. If I were giving the exam and had the chance to drop the question, I would. If I were not allowed to drop the question, I would tell the students after the results of the test were announced that the question is wrong and that they should dispute the results. Such actions have indeed changed the scoring of standardized tests here in the US when false results were given for a question.

    Jane likes Joe more than me. = Jane likes Joe more than [she does] me.
    Jane likes Joe more than me likes Joe. I don’t believe it works because of the pronoun used.

    Your grammatical analysis is faulty. See below.

    Jane likes Joe more than I. = Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe]. Isn’t there only one grammatically-based correct answer? For it to mean Jane likes Joe more than she likes me, wouldn’t the pronoun have to be me rather than I?

    Jane likes Joe more than I. does not have an ambiguous meaning, and I at no point indicated that does. It does sounds awkward to me, for the same reason that Jane is smarter than I. sounds awkward, and I would certainly advise anyone learning English as a foreign language to avoid it in favor of Jane likes Joe more than I do.

    Jane likes Joe more than me. is ambiguous, but it is grammatical in both meanings. When the meaning is "Jane likes Joe more than she likes me." than is being used as a conjunction connecting "Jane likes Joe" with the clause "[she likes] me," with words elided.

    When the meaning of Jane likes Joe more than me. is "Jane likes Joe more than I like Joe" no words are being elided and than is being used as a preposition. It is not a case of "Jane likes Joe more than I [like Joe]/than I [do]." but instead a comparison between Jane with me, essentially no different than that in Jane is smarter than me. When than is being used as a preposition it requires the objective form of I.

    Let’s say, for argument sake, the above is true …

    Yes, I agree some people may find it ambiguous but does that mean it is ambiguous?
    Let’s say I am learning a language and therefore do not know all the grammatical rules or idioms of that language and I therefore misinterpret a sentence I read. Other people make the same mistake as I do, does that make the sentence ambiguous?

    The sentence is ambiguous if people find it ambiguous, yes. English is not a computer language, but one for human-to-human communication, and the only rules which count are rules based on actual usage.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Any exam question which did not recognize that Jane likes Joe more than me. is ambiguous would be a poorly written one.
    I could not agree more, but we are not the people who make such tests, and tests with ambiguous questions are common—sadly. Equally sad is the fact that in countless cases there is no chance to disupte the question. Standardized tests may not give a student the chance to argue about a question being illogical or pure nonsense.

    In such a case, we have no choice but to "play by the rules", which demand that we pick an answer and try to guess what the idiots who design such tests have in mind.

    I have one more point: if this pair of sentences were not problematical, there would not have been so many posts about it.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I could not agree more, but we are not the people who make such tests, and tests with ambiguous questions are common—sadly. Equally sad is the fact that in countless cases there is no chance to disupte the question. Standardized tests may not give a student the chance to argue about a question being illogical or pure nonsense.

    In such a case, we have no choice but to "play by the rules", which demand that we pick an answer and try to guess what the idiots who design such tests have in mind.

    I have one more point: if this pair of sentences were not problematical, there would not have been so many posts about it.

    Well, we could refuse to answer the question. Most people, including me, would not do that, but it is nevertheless another choice.

    If I were a teacher teaching students to pass a standardized grammar or vocabulary test which I knew to have incorrect answers, I would teach the students both the correct and incorrect answers, letting them know why the test was wrong but making sure that they could give the false answer required if they decided to do so. I doubt that I could stomach teaching just the false answer expected by the test-makers, and so would not do so.

    Although I am not a teacher, I do have such discussions at the French-language conversation groups I attend with acquaintances of mine who are native speakers of languages other than English. I know enough about the false arguments given by the followers of traditional (that is, prescriptive) grammar that I can explain to my friends what those arguments are and compare them to the actual grammar used by the speakers of standard dialects of English.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Well, we could refuse to answer the question. Most people, including me, would not do that, but it is nevertheless another choice.
    I would. I have! I don't think it will work on an SAT test, for example, but if there has been a teacher I could talk to, I most definitely took the time, right in the middle of a test, to express my irration with a stupid question. I've done this all my life.

    It has not always made my life easier. ;)
    If I were a teacher teaching students to pass a standardized grammar or vocabulary test which I knew to have incorrect answers, I would teach the students both the correct and incorrect answers, letting them know why the test was wrong but making sure that they could give the false answer required if they decided to do so.
    I would do the same thing. I would say, "This is the wrong answer, but choose it on the test just to get a better score. Then remember for the rest of your life that it is wrong."
    I doubt that I could stomach teaching just the false answer expected by the test-makers, and so would not do so.
    I could not ether.
    Although I am not a teacher, I do have such discussions at the French-language conversation groups I attend with acquaintances of mine who are native speakers of languages other than English. I know enough about the false arguments given by the followers of traditional (that is, prescriptive) grammar that I can explain to my friends what those arguments are and compare them to the actual grammar used by the speakers of standard dialects of English.
    Well, I am a teacher, and I run across incredibly wrong information every day in my work. Perhaps the hardest part of my job is explaining why what I do is not wrong, and what is often taught as "the Gospel" is not only wrong, it's very harmful.

    I don't think teaching people how to play a musical instrument is totally different from/than teaching a language. In either case you are often up against "traditions" that wrong, harmful ot both.

    Gaer
     
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