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    #1

    Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Hey guys, how's it going? I humbly would like to ask for your help once again.
    A student of mine has asked me if he can always use the gerund after than. As it's a preposition, I automatically thought of confirming it.
    But, on second thought, I got in doubt just because I've seen lots of examples like these ones:

    You should've known me better than to mess with me. (infinitive)
    There's more important things than hearing you speak
    . (gerund)

    As the rule states we always have to use the gerund form of the verb if there's a preposition preceding it. Would you help me with this? Which one is correct? Which one is not? Are they both correct? I'm confused.

    Thanks in advance guys.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Both gerunds and infinitives can act as nouns. Your examples give an example of each being used as the object of a preposition.

    In your second example, the verb should be plural. "There are more important things than hearing you speak."

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    #3

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    In your second example, the verb should be plural.
    It should, but in colloquial speech in the UK the singular would not be uncommon.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Strange.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    No-one pretends that the singular is the correct form. It's simply that we frequently start sentences with "There's" regardless of what comes next. As Tdol said, it only happens in speech.

    There's hundreds of people here.
    There's twelve apples in the fridge.
    There's a lot of girls here today.

    None of them would be acceptable in written English.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Ok guys, thank you all so much for the detailed explanation.
    But I'm still confused. I would like to understand if I can use both infinitive and gerund after the preposition than. Furthermore, when it's used as the object of a preposition. That's the point I'm questioning about.

    Thanks.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    You should've known me better than to mess with me.
    There's more important things than hearing you speak

    Both of these are OK.


  5. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    No-one pretends that the singular is the correct form. It's simply that we frequently start sentences with "There's" regardless of what comes next. As Tdol said, it only happens in speech.

    There's hundreds of people here.
    There's twelve apples in the fridge.
    There's a lot of girls here today.

    None of them would be acceptable in written English.
    Funny thing. After reading that it occurred to me that I haven't been hearing that as much as I used to. Hm.


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    #9

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Mr. Henrique:

    I found the title of your thread so inviting that I just had to add my two bits.

    I am not disagreeing with anything told to you by the other posters.

    I was concerned, however, that maybe one of your brighter students might say, "Sir, I think that 'than' is a conjunction in that sentence."

    Many grammar books and dictionaries still agree with that bright student.

    "You should know better than to mess with me" actually is a SHORTER way to say, "You should know better than XXX to mess with me."

    For this discussion, we do not have to worry about what words the X's represent. The only point is: there are two full clauses on each side of "than." Therefore, it is a conjunction by definition.

    Look at this sentence from older English, which we no longer use:

    "Norhing could be more disagreeable to me than that I should have to do that."

    Now look at how we say it today: "Nothing could be more disagreeable to me than to have to do that."

    The "than" in the original full sentence "proves" that "than" is a conjunction -- as most (all?) dictionaries agree.



    James


    Those two sentences come from George Oliver Curme's two-volume masterpiece A Grammar of the English Language. It was published in 1931, but the information ahout the historical development of "than" is as relevant in 2014 as in 1931.

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    #10

    Re: Than... Preposition or Conjunction?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Mr. Henriquez:

    I have very exciting news.

    I have found an article on the Web that, I am sure, will greatly interest you.

    The two posters seem to be very knowledgeable.

    They feel that "than" is a conjunction when it is followed by an infinitive.

    They feel that "than" is a preposition when it is followed by a gerund. (Remember: a gerund, by definition, is a noun. Therefore, it must be the object of a preposition.)

    To read the article go to the Google search engine ONLY. Then type in these words:

    Than - Content Frame which would be considered correct


    *****

    Pardon me for not linking. I do not know how.



    James

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