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'Than' is a subordinating conjunction. As such, it joins a main clause to a dependent clause. Some of the words in the clause that follow 'than' are often omitted in speech and writing, making 'than' appear to be joining a clause to a single word or phrase:

You are more likely to train harder with a trainer than without.

This suggests that there were more people at the meeting than might have been expected.

I would rather play a game of tennis than listen to you.

Do you consider your needs to be more important than the needs of others.

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Since 'than' technically must join two clauses, shouldn't these sentences above have an original form, showing 'than' joining two clauses? EG

It's so much easier for us to get jobs than them. = Idiomatic, grammatical, reduced version

It's so much easier for us to get jobs than it is easy for them to get jobs. = Original, unidiomatic version

Thank you Emotion: smile
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I'd say that the reduced version exists for a reason; it is more efficient to express that kind of redundant dependent clause using a single contrastive word (e.g., "them" in your example sentence), rather than repeating a nearly-identical phrase.

I think if you used the "original sentence" you are talking about, people would get lost in what you are talking about, because that structure is so uncommon in English.

I like your linguist thinking though... :-)
English 1b3shouldn't these sentences above have an original form, showing 'than' joining two clauses?
I suppose you could say that they have 'an original form'. Yes.

I can see that your example illustrates your point.

CJ
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CalifJimI suppose you could say that they have 'an original form'. Yes.
I couldn't think of the 'original' or non-reduced forms for the the other sentences, so I was unsure whether or not my claim was right. If you can figure out the 'originals,' that would help me.

More to the point, are we just meant to familarize ourselves with each and every different reduced form that results from 'than' joining clauses? I mean, if you couldn't articulate the reduced versions, wouldn't it be ideal if non-reduced forms did exist...

Thanks
This suggests that there were more people at the meeting than there might have been many people at the meeting.

You are more likely to train harder with a trainer than you are likely to train harder without a trainer.

I would rather play a game of tennis than I would gladly listen to you.

Do you consider your needs to be more important than you do consider the needs of others to be important?
I'm not even going to attempt to formulate a rule that unfailingly gives the unreduced form for comparatives. I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader. I'll just mention that I think all such constructions imply that the amount of one thing is greater or smaller than the amount of another, and that the unreduced form must be something that makes that difference in amounts clear. The sort of thing that exists in different amounts is signaled by a word like "more" or "less". "rather" must be interpreted as "have 'more' preference"

You are more likely to train harder with a trainer than without.

likelihood of your training harder with a trainer <greater

likelihood of your training harder without a trainer <smaller

This suggests that there were more people at the meeting than might have been expected.

This suggests
actual number of people at the meeting <greater

expected number of people at the meeting <smaller

I would rather play a game of tennis than listen to you.

my preference: I play a game of tennis < greater

my preference: I listen to you < smaller

Do you consider your needs to be more important than the needs of others?

Do you consider ...?

the importance of your needs < greater

the importance of others' needs < smaller

CJ
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Than you both, CJ and Anon, for your replies. Very logical way to think about it, CJ.

So just to sum-up, do you agree

  1. that 'than' is a subordinating conjunction?

  2. that is joins a main clause to a dependent clause, either implicitly or explicitly?

  3. that the 'non-reduced' forms may not exist or be completely comprehensible?
Here are few more I read, which I have attempted to expand so to speak:

a. But the thing I fear more than anything is clowns. (than I fear anything)

b. In fact the only thing he was more obsessed with than killing a zombie was finding a twinkie. (than he was obsessed with)

c. The one thing he hated more than fighting poor, defenseless children was fighting the elderly. (than he hated fighting)

d. There are far greater things to fear than to fear you. (than there are things)

Thank you
Also, are both variations of the use of 'than' correct here?

I have more influence over the movie than you.

I have more influence than you over the movie.

And should we call 'than' a preposition perhaps when a noun follows it and when there seems to be no chance of it ever being a clause before the omission of words?