I have seen the following paragraph in some article:

One can imagine a computer simulation of the action of peptides in the hypothalamus that is accurate down to the last synapse. But equally one can imagine a computer simulation of the oxidation of hydrocarbons in a car engine or the action of digestive processes in a stomach when it is digesting pizza. And the simulation is no more the real thing in the case of the brain than it is in the case of the car or the stomach.

I understand the meaning of the bold sentence, but I cannot understand its word order. For example, I think that the adverb "more" should be placed immediately before the adjective "real" and the sentence should be like the following:

  • And the simulation in the case of the brain is no more real than the simulation in the case of the car or the stomach.

I wonder how the word order of the original sentence is justified.

  • The simulation is not 'what really happens in the brain' any more than the other simulations are what really happens in a car engine or the human stomach. Oct 11, 2021 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


the real thing is a set phrase that is used regularly in everyday English. Note that, according to the Cambridge dictionary, it doesn't match any of the meanings of real. Here is their definition:

the original, best, or most typical example of something

From the grammatical point of view, both are OK. A be-verb can be followed by a noun or an adjective, and inserting no more doesn't change that.

This is orange - adjective
This is the book - noun

  • Thanks for your answer. However, in the sentence we have a comparative structure, "more ... than". We should not have an adjective after the adverb "more"?
    – Later
    Oct 11, 2021 at 9:38
  • 1
    More isn't just an adverb: according to the Cambridge Dictionary, it can be determiner, pronoun or adverb. It can also be used as a pre-determiner, as in your example, and in this sentence. "She's no more a saint than I am." Lay Siege to Heaven, Louis de Whol, 1961. This construction is used in everyday conversation and in writing. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/more
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 11, 2021 at 11:51

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