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When two objects are compared with each other, the latter term of comparison must exclude the former, as in "Iron is more useful than any other metal". If we say "Iron is more useful than any metal", that is the same thing as saying "Iron is more useful than iron", since iron is itself a metal.

I do not understand this. Please, can someone explain what it means?

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  • This properly belongs on ELL, and in fact I see it's a duplicate of their Q85071, so it will be linked to that one. (If I put a link here the comment will probably disappear on migration). Feb 22, 2021 at 7:40
  • Don't get too hung up on completely literal interpretation. There are many, many written instances of better than anyone in the world in Google Books (and doubtless even more for better than anything in the world). But in nearly every case, the person or thing being compared will also be "in the world". Nobody really cares that much whether the word else in included in such contexts. Feb 22, 2021 at 13:31

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Iron is more useful than any metal.

Put another way, this means

Iron is more useful than iron. This is because any metal could mean iron as well. And this leads to an absurdity.

Iron is more useful than any other metal.

The phrase any other metal excludes iron from the list of metals (for the purpose of comparison.) And thus this version makes sense.

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