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"It takes more data than is available. "
Is this sentence grammatically correct? Should the sentence be modified to " it takes more data than it is available. Are there any other examples that show something can be omitted after "than"?Also, does "than" function as a conjunction or proposition here? thanks

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  • "Than" is a preposition. When it takes a clausal complement that clause is always reduced in some way relative to the structure of a main clause. Hence "it takes more data than [is available]" is fine as the reduced equivalent of *"it takes more data than [data is available]". Another example is "She did better in her exams than [we thought she would]"
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:07
  • The words inside the brackets the example you provided cannot be omitted altogether?
    – user165469
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:16
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    Your emendation than it is available is actually ungrammatical. A dummy subject cannot be used in this case.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 10:45
  • I agree with Colin, and sticking an extra "it" in a sentence like this is actually a very common error made by English learners. It's confusing because you do put another "it" in a sentence like "It is wider than it is tall."
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 12:30
  • @user86756744708 No, they can't. They form a clause functioning as an obligatory complement of "than.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 12:45

1 Answer 1

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It takes more data than [is available].

"Than" is a preposition. When it takes a clausal complement in a comparative construction, that clause is always reduced in some way relative to the structure of a main clause. Hence "it takes more data than [is available]" is fine as the reduced equivalent of *"it takes more data than [data is available]".

Another example is

She did better in her exams than [we thought she would].

Here, the complement of "would" is left understood. The meaning can be given as:

"She did x well in her exams; we thought she would do y well; x > y".

But the "y well" part cannot be syntactically overt.

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  • thx for your response. Where can i find more about this structure? And how about "it takes more data than being available". I have seen many instances of gerund after proposition.
    – user165469
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:18
  • Haven't you misplaced the first bracket, Bill? Surely you wouldn't end the sentence with than. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 10:01
  • No: the brackets surround the comparative clause functioning as complement of the prep "than". The complement is of course obligatory here.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 10:26

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