I have problems with these structures:

Here I think both sentences are correct.

1a) You know it better than me.

1b) You know it better than I do.

In real life I hear mostly a), but I think b) is more correct. Because the first clause shows that it is a question (Do you know) and that's enough.

2a) Do you know who is he? (Wrong but common)

2b) Do you know who he is?

  • 2a is characteristic of informal speech and only rarely appears in writing. If I did transcribe someone speaking this way, I would put a comma after do you know to make it clear that it's an introductory clause, although this practice isn't universally observed. (In speech, intonation makes the structure clear.)
    – user230
    Nov 17, 2013 at 22:58
  • @snailboat I think I'd be more likely to say "Who is he, do you know?" than 2a (though I do get what you mean about the intonation.) Perhaps this just isn't part of my dialect, though :)
    – WendiKidd
    Nov 18, 2013 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


We often omit the repeated words in parallel expressions.

If you said #1 in full, you would say, "You know it better than I know it." As "know it" is common to both parts, we often shorten this to "You know it better than I", or if this sounds too abrupt or we fear some ambiguity, we may say, "You know it better than I do."

"You know it better than me" is often said in informal speech, but is incorrect. "Me" is the objective case, the thing being acted on, while "I" is the subjective case, the thing doing the act. In this sentence, "I/me" am doing the acting -- I am knowing something -- so we should use "I". Technically, in "you know it better than me", as "me" is an object, this must be the object of "know". That is, "You know it better than you know me." In this case it's very unlikely that that's what the writer meant.

But consider these two sentences: "Alice likes Bob more than I." And, "Alice likes Bob more than me." The first sentence means that Alice likes Bob more than I like Bob. I might say this if I see that Alice likes Bob but I don't like him, maybe I'm about to warn her that he's a bad person. The second sentence means that Alice likes Bob more than she likes me. I might say this if I am jealous that she is showing favoritism to Bob over me. Maybe I want to be her boyfriend but she prefers Bob and my feelings are hurt.

  • What about this usage? -- "This was created by students like me." Should it be like I am?
    – mosceo
    Nov 18, 2013 at 17:48
  • @Graduate Yes, your example is correct, and "You know it better than me" is, too. Jay's ellipsis analysis is referring to a rule that was inaccurate when it was made up a couple centuries ago, and it hasn't become any more accurate in the meantime.
    – user230
    Nov 18, 2013 at 17:51
  • 1
    There's some additional discussion on Arnold Zwicky's blog.
    – user230
    Nov 18, 2013 at 18:02
  • @snailboat That more and more people today say: "you know it better than me" is very true. Grammar rules change more slowly than people's speech in modern life. However, I'm not so sure that the rule you are mentioning was made up "centuries ago" and that it became fossilized. As recently as the 1970s the rule was accepted and taught to children and adults alike. I myself will say: "He sings better than I do" because of the subject, he, used with the verb. Using the object pronoun at the beginning of a sentence sounds goddamn awful: "Him (me) sings better than me (him)"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 19, 2013 at 6:53
  • Whereas, "He is taller than me" sounds less stuffy than "He is taller than I (am)." I believe that English teachers would be less likely to correct their (native speaking) pupils writing containing instances of the latter, but their red pens would start quivering over the former i.e.; subject + verb + comparative adjective + than + object pronoun.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 19, 2013 at 7:06

1b) You know it better than I do.

If you strictly follow the grammar, this one is correct. After the conjunction "than", almost all repetitive words are omitted. This is called "obligatory reduction" and seen in sentences using "as" for comparative description.

It's also correct to say "You know it better than I."

Strictly speaking, 1a) is not correct grammatically, but it is acceptable as colloquial expression. However, it could be confusing because you may think "it is better than I (me), not you in the sentence. Whether it happens or not depends on the context.

2a) Do you know who is he? (Wrong but common)

2b) Do you know who he is?

After "do you know", you do not use an interrogative sentence structure. In your case, "who" comes first, but a phrase having a declarative sentence structure follows.

If the question is "who is he?", you say "Do you know who he is?

But "Do you know who is he?" is not wrong grammatically when the "he" is a complement of the verb "is". This depends on what you ask.

I think I need to modify my description. I said "You know it better than me" was grammatically wrong for comparison between you and I. This is reasonable when the "than" is a conjunction. But "than" can be a preposition. In this case, "You know it better than me" should be OK.

"Then" as a preposition may be established from such misuse, I just speculate though.

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