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    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 3
    #1

    Post AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    Hi, Im Italian and Im studying English as a second language.
    Im having problems with the use of the pattern

    more/less THAN half/twice AS MUCH/MANY

    because Im not sure which one must follow between AS and THAN.
    Reading articles on magazines and on the internet Ive found both cases.
    For instance:

    Car steering wheels carry more than twice as many germs AS a toilet seat, according to research
    More than twice as many home computers are thrown away THAN are recycled

    People may prefer a more relaxed lifestyle, but I drive less than half as much AS I did when I lived in the suburbs.
    Less than half as many tons of newspaper are recycled each year THAN are of corrugated cardboard

    So, am I to conclude that both AS and THAN are always possible? Or is there a difference between the two that I failed to detect?
    Could you please explain to me the correct rule (if any)?
    Thank you very much in advance.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    Welcome, lcasaletti.

    Different: X as...as Y

    [1] Car steering wheels...as many germs as a toilet seat
    [2] [Now]...as much as...[then]


    Same: X...than...X
    [3] home computers...than...[home computers] recycled.
    [4] tons...than...[tons] of corrugated cardboard.

    Hope that helps.


    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 3
    #3

    Re: AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Welcome, lcasaletti.

    Different: X as...as Y

    [1] Car steering wheels...as many germs as a toilet seat
    [2] [Now]...as much as...[then]


    Same: X...than...X
    [3] home computers...than...[home computers] recycled.
    [4] tons...than...[tons] of corrugated cardboard.

    Hope that helps.
    Dear Casiopea,
    Thank you for your answer.
    I have carefully read your explanation but s.th. about it still puzzles me.
    If I compare the following two sentences, for instance,

    [1] … I drive less than half as much AS I did when I was living in the suburbs
    [2] Less than half as many tons of newspaper are recycled each year THAN are of cardboard

    I just can’t understand, in the first place, why you have considered them differently: they actually look the same to me. Let me clarify my point by means of the following analysis:

    Sentence [1]
    1 member of comparison: “I drive for … (now that I live in the centre)”
    subject of 1 member: I
    2 member of comparison: “I drove for … (when I was living in the suburbs)”
    subject of 2 member: I
    Difference: the two subjects are the same but are qualified by two different situations.
    So I can understand what you mean by “Different: X as…as Y”

    Sentence [2]
    1 member of comparison: “tons of newspaper being recycled”
    subject of 1 member: tons
    2 member of comparison: “tons of cardboard being recycled”
    subject of 2 member: tons
    Difference: the two subjects may well be the same but are qualified by two different materials.
    So I cannot understand your conclusion about the sameness (“Same: X…than…X”??).
    Consequently, I’d be more inclined to think that, applying your rule, sentence [2] should be rectified into the following:

    Less than half as many tons of newspaper are recycled each year AS are of cardboard

    In the second place, is your rule still applicable if we remove the introducing “more/less than”?
    As for sameness (“X…than…X”), is it correct, for example, if I say:

    [3] He didn’t catch half as many fish THAN he’d hoped
    [4] We got twice as many people THAN we expected
    [5] You’re not half as beautiful THAN you think you are


    After all this reasoning, one more doubt occurs to me.
    Is it right that in comparisons THAN must be preceded by more/less, while AS must be preceded by as? If it’s so, it all leads me to the following two conclusions:
    a) sentence [1] is correct because less + than are properly matched and as + as are also properly matched:

    I drive less than half as much AS I did when I was living in the suburbs
    |____| |_______|

    b) sentence [2] looks incorrect because less + than are properly matched but as + than are mismatched:
    ____ _____________________________________________
    | | | |
    Less than half as many tons of newspaper are recycled each year THAN are of cardboard

    Isn’t it all a hell of a mess?
    Please, let me know your observations as soon as you can.
    Of course I’m looking forward to anybody’s opinion about the matter!
    Thank you.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    OK. I can see where you're stuck. Here's another way to look at it:

    I. as many/much...Noun Phrase...as...


    [1] Car steering wheels carry more than twice as many germs AS a toilet seat, according to research.

    [3] People may prefer a more relaxed lifestyle, but I drive less than half as much distance AS I did when I lived in the suburbs.



    II. as many/much...Clause than...

    [2] More than twice as many home computers are thrown away THAN are recycled

    [4] Less than half as many tons of newspaper are recycled each year THAN are of corrugated cardboard.

    Hope that helps.

    All the best.


    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 3
    #5

    Re: AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    Thank you very much for your explanation. It has solved my doubts.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #6

    Re: AS vs. THAN: comparisons.

    You're most welcome.

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