He showed a much improved grasp of the English language than a year ago.

This sentence is supposed to be grammatically wrong (the usage of the phrase "than a year ago"). Can you please explain to me why?

2 Answers 2


The sentence is wrong because improved is not a comparative.

He showed a much better grasp of the English language than [he showed] a year ago.


He showed a much improved grasp of the English language compared to/over what he showed a year ago.

The [(what) he showed] bits can be omitted, and the sentence will still be grammatical, but also rather awkward as the structure would not be exactly parallel (see @Sandeep's answer); I recommend to include them


I think the sentence is comparing two incomparable things. You can't compare grasp with an year ago. Sentence should be - improved grasp of the English language than he/she had an year ago.

  • @Downvoter- Reveal yourself and enlighten me.
    – Sandeep D
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:16
  • This isn't wrong, it just isn't the root cause of OP's issue. Still, a good point to keep in mind +1
    – blgt
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:27
  • 1
    I think you might benefit by posting your answer as a question: "Is this sentence comparing two incomparable things? ... Can it (would it) be interpreted as comparing two incomparable things?" Feb 11, 2015 at 15:47
  • 1
    @blgt, I disagree; it is wrong. I can compare my grasp (today, which is implied) with my grasp a year ago. The problem is that you don't use "than" with "improved"; as stated your own answer, it's not a comparative. (also, it's "a year ago", not "an year ago", since the Y does not have a vowel sound in the word "year".) If you want to use "improved", you should have a timespan or a starting point: something like "His grasp has improved a lot over the last year."
    – Hellion
    Feb 11, 2015 at 19:38

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