Here's a citation that is exact:

Austen´s indirect criticism of patriarchy is evident in both Emma and Persuasion. Emma loves her father very much but as Austen mentions “He was no companion to her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational and playful” (E 2). He is much older that she is and he is also portrayed as practically invalid. In addition, he is nervous, hating any change and easily depressed. Zuzana Kadlecová, Marriage in the Works of Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft

Here's the citation of the actual line from Emma:

How was she to bear the change? -- It was true that her friend was going only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the difference between a Mrs. Weston only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages, natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful. (Source: Emma, Jane Austen)

I am guessing that he can't converse with her in rational and playful manner.

  • But actually it doesn't matter. I am foreigner and i am not that much acquainted with clauses. This question is all about clause and not about context.
    – user66705
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 21:16
  • 2
    Context is VERY important. It is now much easier to answer your question
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 21:17
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    @ErkhesNyamsaikhan Please let us be the judge of what we prefer when we answer questions. Yes you are correct it means what you say. It is MUCH clearer with the added "He was no companion to her."
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 21:32
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    We don't ask just to be jerks - providing this information helps you get better answers and helps your question be more helpful to other learners. There is a lot of good advice in the "Details Please" link, and there is an answer with examples of questions with good detail: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4584
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 21:45
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    The original quote in Jane Austen's book is different from the sentence you're asking about, so it would help if you would edit your question to include where you actually saw this sentence. Whether it's "and" or "or" and the context could actually make a difference to the meaning.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Emma is a very clever person, and she gets pleasure from talking with other clever people. To "meet in conversation" means to have a conversation with an intellectual equal. Conversations can be joking or "playful", or they can be serious or "rational".

Emma's father is not her intellectual equal, and so she cannot enjoy conversations with him. She can talk to him, but he is not able to engage her either with clever word-play, nor can he discuss serious matters with her.

What Emma needs is a friend who she can engage with. Her father can't act as her friend.

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