Saturday, July 18, 2015

Than I or Than Me?

Shirley from Spider Lake asked which of the following is correct:
            John is taller than me.
            John is taller than I.

This one has an answer that will satisfy few people. Given the right circumstances, both can be correct. A quick review: I is the subject form of the pronoun and me is the object form of the same pronoun.

The wild card is the word than. Sometimes it’s a preposition, and sometimes it’s a conjunction. If you view it as a preposition, then it requires an object: John is taller than me. If you see it as a conjunction, then it will be followed by a subject/verb construction: John is taller than I am—or, in its abbreviated form, John is taller than I.

Ambiguity is nothing surprising in English. If someone were to ask if the noun hockey is a subject or an object, the correct answer would be, “that depends.” If you write hockey is a dynamic sport, the word hockey is a subject. Write I really enjoy hockey, and it’s an object. Compounding matters, talk about a hockey stick, and it's an adjective.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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