The sentence is from the VOA Learning English Program:

“Well actually, the fame is there -- it just takes a different form. I mean, you know, you, you think of our show being prime time, but when I come out here and I meet people, they’re just as excited as I was during Batman days. So, it’s not that the people change. Maybe, you know, the, the perception is different, but it, honestly, nothing has changed – I’m the same person I was before I made the series that I am now.

My understanding is : I am the same person that I was before I made the series and I am the same person that I am now. How to parse this sentence ?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Tyler James Young, hjpotter92, Renan, Stephen Nov 11 '13 at 18:32

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    That I am now seems superfluous to me. – snailcar Nov 1 '13 at 3:33
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    @snailboat You know what, I agree with you. – user48070 Nov 1 '13 at 3:45
  • I don't know anything about "the VOA Learning English Program", but it doesn't look at all like a well-formed English sentence to me. I can't imagine what sort of creative educationalist thinks such weird (ungrammatical?!) phrasing is a useful example to learners. – FumbleFingers Nov 1 '13 at 3:51
  • @FumbleFingers, certainly the example isn't one that should be imitated, but on the other hand it's a perfectly good example of what people actually say, and as such is a reasonable example for learners to come to understand. I think most native speakers will understand it quickly and effortlessly. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Nov 1 '13 at 4:19
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it asks "how to parse" a totally non-grammatical utterance (that happens to have a relatively transparent meaning). – FumbleFingers Nov 1 '13 at 13:36

The sentence is talking about one person, but speaking of that person as if it were two people.

A sentence similar to this one is often heard when talking about someone who entered into sudden riches; for example:

I am the same person now as I was before I won the lottery.

That's a way of saying, "Money hasn't changed me," or "Money hasn't changed who I am."

In contrast, we have this one:

I am not the same person I was before I went to prison that I am now.

This time, the speaker is saying that he has changed in some way (for the better, we hope).

Now, back to your sentence:

I’m the same person I was before I made the series that I am now.

The meaning might be a little clearer if it were written as:

I’m the same person now as I was before I made the series.

The following isn't a true "parsing," but it may help you parse the original sentence:

The (person I was before I made the series) and (the person I am now) are the same person.


The sentence is ungrammatical. Or rather, it is grammatical but with semantics that is nosense. These two are grammatical and sound:

I was same person that I am now.

I am the same person (that) I was before I made the series.

In the sentence being considered, the complementized clause "that I am now" is dangling. It looks like "the series that I am now" which is grammatical, but semantically, it is nonsense.

A way to change the sentence so that it incorporates "that I am now" and has sound semantics is as follows:

The person that I am now is the same person that I was before I made the series.

An example of a semantically sound sentence which is closely parallel to yours, in terms of syntax, but with a different meaning, is this:

I am quite a different person from what I was before I created the person that I am now.

This works because "the person that I am now" is sensible, unlike "the series that I am now".

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