Comparisons: Taller Than

I Am Taller Than Her Brother, And He Is Taller Than She

by Owen Fourie

Let’s see. If she is 173 centimeters tall and her brother is 183 cm, that would make me about 193 cm. Right? Perhaps.

Whatever follows the word than in comparisons has been controversial for a long time.

Should you say, “I am taller than she,” or “I am taller than her”?

Than as a preposition

If it can be argued that than is a preposition, then “I am taller than her” would be fine. The preposition than is correctly followed by the object pronoun her.

Than as a conjunction

If it is argued that than is a conjunction, then “I am taller than she” would be correct. The conjunction than is joining the first clause “I am taller” to the second clause beginning with the subject pronoun she.

The second clause is understood to be saying “she is tall.” The full statement would be “I am taller than she is tall.”

Is there only one correct form here, or can both be used?

Informal usage

If you are in an informal situation, to say “I am taller than her” should not be a problem.

This is heard in everyday speech, but that does not make it grammatically correct, notwithstanding the argument for than as a preposition here.

When I hear someone say this, I have a grammar demon that pops up and says, “Taller than her what? Her corgi? I thought you looked rather short.”—Not nice.

Formal usage

If you are in a formal situation—speaking in a job interview or writing an academic paper—be sure to treat than as a conjunction and let it be followed by a subject pronoun: “I am taller than she.”

If you feel uncomfortable because this could sound stilted, say, “I am taller than she is,” but avoid saying or writing, “I am taller than she is tall,” even though it is correct.

Broader than tall!

Of course, this applies more broadly than only to the adjective taller:

  • I am older than he.
  • I am older than he is (old).
  • I am older than him.
  • You are braver than she.
  • You are braver than she is (brave).
  • You are braver than her.

Mind your formal and informal usage, and stand tall while I rescue the short guy from that agile corgi. Now, that’s being nice.

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Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. If you are puzzled about any aspect of grammar and correct usage, ask here for clarification.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

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2 comments

    • Curls on August 13, 2017 at 18:18
    • Reply

    Thanks! We were having a family debate.

    1. Glad if it helped. Thanks for commenting.

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