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08/09/2010

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Steve Hall

Now I'm confused—and not about the punctuation.

You wrote, "...they're smarter than me." I should probably look this up in my brand-spanking new copy of CMOS16 (arrived Saturday!), but I thought the proper construction is, "They're smarter than I (am)." (The "am" being unspoken but understood.)

Or is either correct?

Steve Hall

I did look it up; 5-179. I think I still prefer "they're smarter than I." :)

Carol Fisher Saller

Steve, I believe my choice is correct for conversational writing. The formal construction is appropriate for formal documents.

Cheers,
Carol

Mary Offermann

I agree with Steve; there is no reason to dumb down the language for conversation. When we speak correctly, we reinforce the proper use of the language.

Linda Miller-Smith

love this! thank you so much.

Adrian Barri

Good English is good English, conversational or not; this isn't like French or German where we actually have formal and informal cases (or neuter articles for that matter). If the first-person reference is the sentence object, then use 'me', not 'I'. If there is a reversed subject, then by all means use 'I'. Examples: "they're smarter than me" (object). "He and I are the users" (First-person reversed subject).

Joe Sokohl

Carol's right: colloquially, the "they're smarter than me" works better stylistically than "they're smarter than I" -- unless you explicitly put the verb after the I.

Sometimes style and tone and voice win over pedantry.

Nan Erkert

The context almost insists upon the 'me.' If she had been saying, 'They're not as smart as...', than 'I' might have been a better choice. As it is, the humble little 'me' adds to the overall charm of Carol's style.

Carol Fisher Saller

(We're still talking about punctuation, right? Right?)

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