1. They are shorter than me and lean
  2. They are shorter than me and are lean
  3. They are shorter than me and they are lean

Which one of this grammatically correct?

  • 1
    As everyone agrees, they're all grammatically sound. But per my comment to @relaxing's answer, I think that in most contexts, most "careful" writers using this or similar constructions would opt for #3 on stylistic grounds. Nine times out of ten, the writer would list the more significant of any two such attributes second. When the first (equal or less significant) attribute is a multi-word term and the second is just one short word, it looks a bit odd to just leave it hanging around with no additional support after the word "and". But that's really just "writing advice". Feb 28, 2014 at 21:43

4 Answers 4


All are grammatically correct.

#2 should be preferred to #1, due to ambiguity of the meaning of "lean" - is it the noun, they are not fat, or the verb, they bend to the side?

For #3, the second "they are" is somewhat redundant, unless you are trying to emphasize their lean attributes.

A better formation could be They are shorter and leaner than me.

  • 1
    I'll upvote this because it's substantially correct, but on stylistic grounds I personally would opt for #3. That's because to my mind there's no good reason to associate being "shorter than me" with being "lean" (note that without more context we've no idea whether "I" am leaner than them or vice-versa). Because the two attributes aren't meaningfully connected, I think your point about "trying to emphasize their lean attributes" comes into play. The first listed attribute is a fairly "heavy" 3-word term, so the second attribute needs to be "fully" introduced to "balance" it. Feb 28, 2014 at 21:35
  • Yes, all of my 3 sentences seem to be valid, your sentence "They are shorter and leaner than me" is much better than any of my sentences. This didn't strike me before.
    – T2E
    Feb 28, 2014 at 22:30
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I agree, it's not clear whether "leaner than me" is implied, but as a manner of style, if they're not meaningfully connected, I would recommend promoting the issue of lean-ness to a new sentence entirely. For the record, I was thinking of "shorter and skinnier" in the context of whether you could take them in a fight :)
    – relaxing
    Feb 28, 2014 at 22:34
  • haha - your bellicosity is revealed by your default interpretation! Me, I imagined it might be a (relatively short) missionary talking about his first encounter with, say, pygmies. Where he remarks first on their being short because that in itself isn't a very common thing for him to encounter. Then (far more ominously) points out that they are lean. Perhaps I've seen too many "missionary in a cooking pot" jokes, but I thought of this missionary as being somewhat concerned on observing the lean and hungry look of potential cannibals. :) Feb 28, 2014 at 22:44

All three are grammatical. You can split them up like this:

  They are [ shorter than me ] and [ lean ]
  They [ are shorter than me ] and [ are lean ]
  [ They are shorter than me ] and [ they are lean ]

To put it another way, we could say we're starting with these two sentences:

 1. They are shorter than me.
 2. They are lean.

When we join them with and, we can optionally delete repeated material:

  They are shorter than me and they are lean.
  They are shorter than me and they are lean.
  They are shorter than me and they are lean.

One caveat: we'd normally contract they are to they're, but the second example prevents you from doing so. As a result, you'd normally only use that version if you were stressing the auxiliary are for emphasis:

  They are shorter than me and they are lean.

This sentence could be, for example, a refutation of the following sentence:

They aren't shorter than you and aren't lean.

But the other two are fine without this restriction.

Of those two, the unreduced version feels more balanced to me:

[ They're shorter than me ] and [ they're lean ].

The shorter version sounds better to me if I balance it out by adding a word at the end to emphasize lean:

They're shorter than me and lean, too!

But that's just a stylistic preference.


All of them are grammatically correct.

All of them, because all of these constructs are acceptable. You can choose to repeat the verb, or the pronoun and the verb, if you think it makes the sentence easier to understand. You can also elect to not repeat them so long as the sentence still makes sense.

Similarly, all of these are grammatical as well:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was the best and the worst of times.
It was the best and worst of times.

Or, I could say that none of them are correct, because none of them have a period at the end. However, I don't expect that's what you meant to inquire about.


Allow me to interject here. My simple response is this: if your goal is proper English, all three are wrong, but for a reason completely unrelated to the other respondents' answers above.

  1. They are shorter than me and lean

  2. They are shorter than me and are lean

  3. They are shorter than me and they are lean

In all three, "than me" is perhaps considered "colloquial," but it's not perfect. Instead of "than me," each should say "than I." Sure, lazy or modern grammarians may argue that "than" is a preposition (which precedes an object) and that treating it as a conjunction is elitist, pretentious, or some such thing.

But when professionalism and grammar skills matter, such as in court or in a prestigious publication, don't settle for the "'than' is a preposition" argument. At a minimum, use the subjective form plus the implied verb—e.g. say "than I am" instead of "than I" if you are concerned about sounding too proper.

Let me give you another reason to start doing things as I'm recommending. Take a look at this modified version of your sentence:

John likes short, lean women more than me.

John likes short, lean women more than I.

Now hopefully you agree these two have completely different meanings. In the first sentence, John is more attracted to short, lean women than he is attracted to the speaker. In the second sentence, the speaker doesn't like short, lean women as much as John does. If you don't see this yet, look at the following repeat statements that also include the optional, implied parts in brackets:

John likes short, lean women more than [he likes] me.

John likes short, lean women more than I [like short, lean women].

So if we accept that there is a difference in meaning here, why should we allow "than me" to be functionally equivalent to "than I" in any other situation?

Now let's revise your original statements. You should now see more easily which one is the best choice (the bracketed verbs are the implied verbs that can optionally be included):

  1. They are shorter than I [am] and lean

  2. They are shorter than I [am] and are lean

  3. They are shorter than I [am] and they are lean

No. 1 is wrong because I cannot definitively (absent your providing alternate choices) determine whether "lean" is an adjective or a verb. "Lean" as an adjective is not the same as "lean" as a verb.

No. 2 is fine—definitely an improvement over no. 1.

No. 3 is best. I prefer this one over no. 2 because it more cleanly separates the comparison between what "they" are and what "I" am from a logically separate statement describing only what "they" are.

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