"I try not to compare myself to people, um, and instead to squirrels".

I heard someone say this. I've seen and get used after a few, I guess, joined words. I don't think I've seen, and, or, heard it get used like this. How may this grammatically join to I try not to compare myself to people?


My take on this is that it is in fact grammatically correct, if rather informal and perhaps a bit awkward. It has this meaning:

I stopped comparing myself to people, and instead I compare myself to squirrels.

Leaving out the I compare myself since it is understood is common practice, especially in spoken conversation.

  • So, may you use I try not to compare myself to people, and instead to squirrels., and have it grammatically proper, in writing? May it seem like an ellipsis? – saySay Feb 12 '16 at 18:31
  • I don't see it as an ellipsis. It could be, but doesn't have to be. You could use it in writing, but again it is rather informal. If you were writing less informally, you would probably say something like "I stopped comparing myself to people, and now I compare myself to squirrels instead." – BobRodes Feb 13 '16 at 5:18

The connector "and instead" could simply signal a tacked-on continuation to the idea rather than a logical reversal, which "but" would signal.

On the other hand, the verb try might be implicated here. Many people say "try and", as in "You try and do it" rather than "You try to do it".

Try and see if you can get this stuck window to budge.

Hence, "I try and compare myself to squirrels, not people."

I try
complement #1 {to compare myself to squirrels}
complement #2 not { (to compare myself to) people}

A "reduced | elliptical infinitive phrase"? I'm not up on the current terminology.

  • I think I’ve read about conjunctions. I don’t think I’ve read about connectors. And instead, two words(?), seems like a connector? And, may try and get thought of as grammatically proper? In, "I try and compare myself to squirrels, not people." I may not get not people, in this. What may you say seems a grammatical function of it? May it seem like a phrase? – saySay Feb 12 '16 at 18:46
  • Many native speakers say "Try and ..." so it is grammatical in that sense. Try is complemented by the infinitive phrase {to compare myself to squirrels not people}. to compare is complemented by two comparands which are yoked by the preposition to: 1) reflexive {myself} and 2) {squirrels} and compare is also complement by a negated 2nd comparand {people} with an ellipsis of the preposition to. compare {myself} to {squirrels} not (to) {people}. Compare {comparand#1} to {comparand #2}. ... not (compare myself to) {people}. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 12 '16 at 19:10

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