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That third night he found his way more quickly than before. He was walking so fast he knew he was making more noise than was wise, but he didn't meet anyone.

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Why isn't there any subject before 'than'? Usually 'subject + verb' or just nouns comes after 'more than~', as in "Harsh treatment by her mother-in-law was more than she could bear.", and "We prize liberty more than life."

But here, there's no subject and an adjective 'wise' came after 'was'. I don't understand the grammatical structure here, thus I'm also having difficulty understanding what this sentence means.

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    This is an ellipsis. In English, good writers often elide a word or phrase which is understood by the reader to be present. Here, the repeated verb is is elided (or omitted) in the form of the infinitive "to make" . The clause as understood is "he was making more noise than was wise [to make]". The sentence means: "He was walking so fast that he knew he was making more noise than it was wise for him to make, but in spite of that, he didn't meet anyone." – P. E. Dant Jul 23 '17 at 2:49
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The second term in a comparative construction with so A that B, as A as B, more A than B always deletes at least one term (the term expressing the value compared) and often deletes considerably more. For instance:

John makes more money than Tim makes X much money
John makes more money than Tim makes X much money

The deletion readily includes the subject and the verb if those are recoverable from context:

John gave Mildred more money than he gave Tim X much money

In your example the deletion extends to the subject:

... he was making more noise than it was wise to make X much noise
... he was making more noise than it was wise to make X much noise

  • Could this also be a deletion of for him to make from more noise than [it] was wise [for him to make]? I was about to try cramming that into my comment but ran into the old hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet. – P. E. Dant Jul 23 '17 at 3:06
  • @P.E.Dant Fersher. It's a sort of linguistic archaeology, reconstructing a whole dinosaur from one toenail that's left. – StoneyB Jul 23 '17 at 4:31

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