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In the following sentences what's the difference between 'than' and 'than that of.'

  • "His net worth is more THAN THAT OF/THAN Bill Gates's"

  • "The camera on this phone is better THAN THAT OF/THAN yours."

Is 'than that of' something a native speaker would say?

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'His net worth is more than Bill Gates's [worth]'

'His net worth is more than that of Bill Gates.' Here, that refers to the worth, so the possessive ('s) is not required. It's a little more formal than the first version.

'The camera on this phone is better than that (the camera) of yours (your phone).'

'The camera on this phone is better than yours' would be understandable in casual speech, but doesn't quite make sense (does it mean 'your camera' or 'your phone'?). You could improve it by saying '...than the one on yours'.

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We usually use 'than' when we compare two objects or people directly :

My camera is better than your camera (or, than yours).

But we usually use 'than that of'/ 'than those of' when we compare not the objects but the attributes or qualities of those objects :

The colour of my camera is brighter than that of yours. (= than the colour of your camera).

Here, 'that' stands for 'the colour'. Here, 'that' has been used to avoid the repetition of the noun 'the colour'.

Besides, a possessive pronoun expresses "the possessor + the thing (s) possessed" (from the context) :

"His net worth is more than Bill Gates's." (Bill Gates's = Bill Gates's net worth).

You could also say :

"His net worth is more than that (=the worth) of Bill Gates." (You need not use double possessive here.)

Now,

"The camera on this phone is better than yours." (yours = your camera).

It's better to say :

"The camera on this phone is better than that (= the camera) of yours (= your phone)."

Or,

"The camera on this phone is better than the one (= the camera) on yours (=your phone)."

The pronoun 'one' is also used to avoid repetition of the noun.

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