"Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew."
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

This comparative construction, I suppose, has the omission of “counterpart of comparative phrase normally omitted (CGEL,p.1108)”. From Wendikidd’s comment, the complement of as before omission would be ‘any of those I ever knew’ or ‘those I ever knew’ (those: good witches and wizards). Are both accepted or one of them?

1 Answer 1


W e l l . . . You may certainly, with grammatical propriety, paraphrase this as

as good as
  any ∅
  any whom
  any that
  any of those ∅
  any of those whom
  any of those that
  those ∅
  those whom
  those that
  all others ∅
  all others whom
  all others that               I ever knew

But with all respect to Profs. Pullum and Huddleston, that range of choices makes it difficult to say that anything in particular is omitted, except in the Pickwickian sense that they’re all omitted. You can't “omit” something that was never there to begin with.

It may make Pulludelum's job easier, and their model more parsimonious, to pretend that something is omitted; but the fact is, they're importing that something into the sentence.

  • Then yours explanation maybe similar with a Koran English Grammar book, in that it condiders no omission. It says ‘as’ in the structure is a kind of similar relative. So they insist that ‘as’ is the object of ‘knew’ and at the same time ‘as’ is connective adjunct that leads a subordinate clause.
    – Listenever
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 23:14
  • 1
    @Listenever Yes; I'm not sure I'd put it that way, but it's closer to my way of thinking than CGEL's. Transformationalists seem to me just a bit too ready to stretch the language to fit the way they think. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:05
  • @StoneyB Unlike McCawley, H&P explicitly reject transformations. They talk instead about processes, which are (to them) a convenient method of simplifying their descriptions. But they caution their readers that all of the "process" descriptions can be rewritten in purely static terms (though it would make for a much longer book!). In other words, they don't believe in "underlying" forms of sentences; they talk about subject-auxiliary inversion, but they don't really believe that we start with declarative sentences and reorder the words every time we form a question. And so on.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 1:41
  • @snailboat Point well taken. I tend through laziness to label (libel?) as transformationalist everything that's happened since I was in high school. And I have to confess that all I've know about CGEL is Huddleston's précis. In some respects they seem to be actually a lot more traditionalist than even me. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 2:12

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