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I read a sentence as below

This strategy tends to result in higher efficiency than would be possible with that one.

I can understand the meaning of the sentence, which is "This strategy tends to result in higher efficiency compared with that strategy.", and I know something is omitted between "than" and "would be possible", but I'm not sure what it is. "the efficiency"?

Edit:

I think there is an omission here because in my opinion than is a conjunction, and the part after than is a clause. There must be a subject to make the clause complete.

If there is indeed an omission here, I'm also not sure if the missing subject is the efficiency or not, because I think higher is a bit contradicting with possible. The sentence is meant to compare level of efficiency, not possibility.

  • It would be perfectly okay to have just written This strategy tends to result in higher efficiency than that one. Where nobody could say for sure exactly what text is "missing" after than. The writer might have originally included the words is possible, would be possible, can be achieved,... or any number of alternatives, before deciding he didn't need anything there at all, so he deleted that text. Or he may never have felt the need to imagine using any additional text at all. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 17 at 15:27
  • @FumbleFingers But I think than is a conjunction here. There must be a subject before would be possible. – Hua Apr 18 at 10:05
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I wouldn't read it as anything being missing. It's just a form of to be.

...higher efficiency than is possible with that one

That's the same thing in the simple present. Is becomes would be when talking about certain sorts of hypotheticals (or when talking about future-in-past, but that's not what's happening here, or when using slightly old fashioned language to talk about wishes/desires/plans, which also isn't happening here).

  • But I think than is a conjunction and the part after than is a clause. So there must be a subject to make the clause after than semantically complete. Right? – Hua Apr 18 at 10:09
  • @Hua: By some formal analyses of grammar, perhaps. In terms of how people who speak English actually process the language, no. And certainly, there are usages of than that don't work like that - "I've been here longer than two years". – SamBC Apr 18 at 10:20
  • What do you think possible here means ? I think possible here is confusing, because the than is meat to compare the level of efficiency not the possibility. Maybe it is better to say ...higher efficiency than it is with that one.? – Hua Apr 18 at 10:56
  • In simple words, I think possible is contradicting with higher. – Hua Apr 18 at 11:05
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    @Hua - no. Higher and possible are not contradictory. You can use them all you like. Some aircraft can achieve altitudes higher than possible in other aircraft. It is saying that the efficiency is higher than it is possible to achieve with the other. The efficiency is outside the envelope of the other. – SamBC Apr 18 at 11:45
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There is no need to think that anything is omitted.

But if I were forced to add something between the words, the following would provide the same meaning (which is also in line with your assumption):

This strategy tends to result in a higher efficiency than the efficiency that would be possible with that one.

Note that in order to accommodate the definite article in the added text, I also added the indefinite article before higher.

  • Thanks. But do you think ... a higher efficiency than it is with that one. is a better completion ? I even think possible in the original sentence is a bit contradicting with higher. – Hua Apr 18 at 10:58
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    @Hua It's conceivable that, as the shortest form of the sentence I can think of, you could just say this results in higher efficiency than that, but the meaning of the sentence would be changed if you left out all of those words. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Apr 18 at 13:35

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