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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    He knows better than to lend her the money.

    Here is a sentence.
    "He knows better than to lend her the money."
    "He" is the subject of the sentence and "knows" the predicate. Maybe someone will say "knows better than to lend her the money" is the whole predicate.
    I'd like to know what elements the "better than" and "to lend her the money" separately are.
    I am here waiting for your reply. Deep thanks to you.

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    #2

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

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


    I have found some information that I am delighted to share with anyone who is interested in this topic.

    1. Some sources simply say that an infinitive may be joined to a conjunction:

    "He knows better than [conjunction] to lend her money." [ infinitival phrase]

    2. Some sources say that it must be some kind of ellipsis.

    a. Some sources think that it may be a shorter way of saying "He knows better than [it is] to lend her money."

    b. Some sources think that it may be a shorter way of saying "He knows better than to lend her money [is good]."

    Of course, I do not know who is correct.

    I am eager to know what others think.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    "He knows better than [it is] to lend her money."
    "He knows better than to lend her money [is good]."
    Those make no sense to me.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I am eager to know what others think.
    I think the idiom can hardly be parsed, so even a well-versed parser like James may fail to do it well, but I am not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    If someone forced me to do this, I would probably say that "better" is an adverb modifying "knows."

    "Than" is a preposition.

    "to lend her money" is the object of the preposition. A verb infinitive phrase acting as a noun.

    Then "money" is the direct object of the verb "lend" and "her" is the indirect object.

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    #6

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

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


    I think that I have found the definitive answer, Mr. Wai.

    A great scholar who has written a two-volume history of the development of the English language says this:

    "I knew better than to mention it."

    1. This is not an elliptical sentence.

    2. This is an abridged sentence.

    3. The difference is that "elliptical" means that you can fill in missing words; "abridged" means that the idea of the sentence is expressed in another manner.

    4. The scholar says that the comparative clause "is often abridged to an infinitive phrase with to when the subject of the principal proposition [ "I"] can serve also as the subject of the infinitive."

    a. That is to say, the subject of "to mention it" is "I."

    5. This abridged sentence is a shorter version of the complete comparative sentence. (Since he does not give the complete comparative sentence, your humble servant shall not guess what it is.)

    6. As you say, Mr. Wai, it is perhaps easier in 2015 to just call it an "idiom."

    a. But, as the scholar points out, it can be parsed -- if one (like him) knows enough of the historical development of the language. Perhaps someone does. It would be exciting if someone could give us the full comparative sentence.


    Source: George O. Curme's 1931 masterpiece A Grammar of the English Language (Volume II, page 304).

  4. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    I know people are probably going to disagree with this, but here goes anyway.

    If forced to make an unabridged version my natural reaction would be to say:

    "He knows better than [that than] to lend her the money".

    This makes it instantly clear why "that than" has been dropped from the idiom.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eckaslike View Post
    I know people are probably going to disagree
    You are right. I am
    "He knows better than [that than] to lend her the money".
    That doesn't mean much to me.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...than-to-do-sth
    Having read the above, I think it might be 'He knows (that not to lend her money is) better than to lend her money', but I am not a teacher.

  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: He knows better than to lend her the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...than-to-do-sth
    Having read the above, I think it might be 'He knows (that not to lend her money is) better than to lend her money', but I am not a teacher.
    He might possibly be thinking that he knows that to pay off her debts for her is better than to lend her money. We can only guess. Apart from the illustrious G O Curme's thought that a similar sentence is it is an abridged sentence, we have no real evidence that it is. GOC apparently does not deign to tell us what the unabridged sentence is.

    I consider that 'know better than to do something' is simply an idiomatic way of saying, in the words of the Cambridge dictionary, 'be wise or moral enough not to do something'.

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