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For Chips, in any social or academic sense, was just as respectable, but no more brilliant, than Brookfield itself. (Ref. Novella Chips, Chapter # 2 )

In this sentence there is a comparison between Chips and Brookfield (School) and this comparison has been built using as and than (For Chips was as respectable than Brookfield itself). Generally comparisons are made in the following ways;

  1. You are fitter than I am.
  2. You are as fit as I am.

So keeping in view the asked example, can we say, You are as fit than I am?

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    The work is actually Goodbye, Mr.Chips by James Hilton, and the quote can be found here. Aug 26, 2022 at 15:16

2 Answers 2

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A longer version of the quote from Goodbye, Mr.Chips by James Hilton is:

But if it had not been this sort of school it would probably not have taken Chips. For Chips, in any social or academic sense, was just as respectable, but no more brilliant, than Brookfield itself.

The more common form of comparison would use a second "as", something like

For Chips was just as respectable as Brookfield itself.

If the comparison is to be made in a negative form, (or using a comparative adjective) the more usual wording would use "than, resulting in something like:

For Chips was no more brilliant than Brookfield itself.

But in the example a positive "just as" and a negative "no more" form appear combines in a single sentence, indeed in a single comparison. This is done in the example sentence by combining e two forms into one starting with "just as" and ending with "than". The resulting sentence is grammatically valid, and a fluent speaker should understand it with no significant problem.

However combining the two forms into m single comparison, as:

You are as fit than I am

is at the very least not natural. I do not think any fluent speaker would be likely to use this form, and I am inclined to call it a grammatical error. At the least I do not recall ever encountering such a form.

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  • @Jeffrey Carney I don't understand what you mean by "the sentence as Hilton should have written it.". There is nothing wrong with the sentence as Hilton did write it. I thought I said that when I wrote: "The resulting sentence is grammatically valid, and a fluent speaker should understand it with no significant problem." Do you mean a double comparison with both parts in the same form? Just what do you mean, please. Aug 26, 2022 at 17:39
  • Oh, I see. By "resulting sentence" I did not realize you meant the sentence as it is written. Aug 27, 2022 at 3:47
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The original sentence is incorrect. We can see that more easily that if we remove the parenthetical portions:

For Chips was just as respectable than Brookfield itself.1

As you've noted, this is not a correct way to make a comparison in English; we could instead use "as . . . as" or "more . . . than". This would be correct:

For Chips, in any social or academic sense, was just as respectable as, but no more brilliant than, Brookfield itself.

We can see that this works because if we use the first conjunct of "but" (without the second one), we get:

For Chips, in any social or academic sense, was just as respectable as Brookfield itself.

On the other hand, if we use the second conjunct (without the first one), we get:

For Chips, in any social or academic sense, was no more brilliant than Brookfield itself.

As another answer has noted, English speakers will generally understand the author's intention upon reading the original sentence. However, it's not correct grammar according to any guidance that I've seen.


1AHD's first definition of "than" notes that it is "used after a comparative adjective or adverb", and the second definition notes that it appears "after certain words indicating difference". This sentence (with the parenthetical portions removed) does not contain any comparative form or any words indicating difference, and no other definition of "than" seems to apply here.

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    I do not understand the downvote. This answer is correct. Aug 27, 2022 at 5:04
  • -1 What you call the "parenthetical portions" make the grammatical structure significantly different, IMO, from the simplified version you state is wrong, and from which you deduce that the original is also wrong. You procalim the oriinal to be abslitely incorret, without cwe xitingn a soure tom tht effect, in the face of evidence of usage by a respected writer, Usage determines correctness after all. I remain convinced that the original is perfectly correct. Aug 28, 2022 at 4:53
  • @DavidSiegel I don't think that the parenthetical portions affect the overall syntax; the fact that they are parenthetical suggests that they can be removed with little effect. In response to your second point, I've added a footnote citing a source (AHD). As for "usage determines correctness", that is true not for a single case (after all, even respected writers make errors) but only when there is enough usage to cause people to accept it. I don't think that that is the case with "as . . . than". If you have evidence that it's become accepted, I'd be happy to edit my answer. Aug 28, 2022 at 5:51

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