2

He was more monster than man.
Source

Why is it that no articles have been used here?

  • It takes article if it was constructed - He was more of a monster than a man. – Maulik V Jun 16 '14 at 11:46
  • Also, I think since the sentence talks about the attributes of a person, it does not take an indefinite article. Here, we are referring to the nature of that person. – Maulik V Jun 16 '14 at 11:59
3

Both monster and man are used in an adjectival way here. The fact that they are compared (more X than Y) means that the writer intends to show "being a monster" and "being a man" not as an absolute thing, but as a property a person can have more or less. In that way, it can help to think of them as nouns that behave like an adjective.

Grammatically, the sentence is comparable to:

The flag was more orange than yellow.

This construction works when you are comparing (with more or less) for nouns that are normally not adjectives. When you are not comparing, it doesn't work; you cannot say "he was man" or "he was monster".

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  • Wondering if the downvoters would care to share their concerns? – oerkelens Jun 16 '14 at 12:15
  • My guess is that those who downvoted don't agree with "monster" and "man" being adjectives. Wouldn't be possible to interpret them as mass nouns? E.g. "cement will take more sand than lime". – Nico Jun 16 '14 at 12:57
  • @Nico: that could be a possible interpretation as well - but, while everyone is free to agree or not, it is certainly not strange to use nouns in an adjectival role. I would argue it is not less common than using a common non-mass noun as a mass noun. – oerkelens Jun 16 '14 at 14:23
  • As for whether or not man and monster are functioning as nouns or pure adjectives would be a good ELU question. As for the downvotes, I think the overall thrust of this answer is quite sound. The sentence is following the same construct as, "He was more demented than sane," or, "He was more uncivilized than polite" – and expressing roughly that same sentiment as well. – J.R. Jun 16 '14 at 15:45

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