General Writing and Grammar Help/parsing the word



Would you please help me to parse the following sentence:
“Rich is taller than Donna.”

I am trying to understand how to parse -  “than Donna”

Is “than” being used as a subordinating conjunction?

Is there an implied verb after Donna as in:
“Rich is taller than Donna is.”

Thank you very much.



ANSWER: Dear Rich:

I have parsed the sentence at the "parsing website."

*** You do find very controversial topics.  Some grammarians consider 'than" to be a preposition, which makes Donna the object of the preposition.  I do not like that explanation.

*** I believe your explanation.  One word of the comparison has been omitted.  You have noted that the sentence needs a final word, "is."  "Than Donna is" is an adverbial clause.

Here's a good explanation from a Connecticut college:

Question   Which of the following sentences is correct? Why?
1) "I am taller than she."
2) "I am taller than her."
Source & Date
of Question   Reston, Virginia
10 December 1997
Response   "I am taller than she" is correct because the word "than" is actually introducing a clause, the verb of which is understood, "than she is tall." However, some writers will argue that the word "than" functions as a preposition here and they want the object of a preposition, "her." You can join their camp if you wish, but you must be prepared for lots of other writers (especially English teachers) to say you're wrong and then you'll have spend your days bickering over grammar.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you, again,for your help with this question.

Can you please tell me if a subordinate clause will always modify a word in the main clause.   I had not thought much about this until I saw your diagrammed sentence where the subordinate clause "than Donna" modifies the adjective "taller" in the main clause.  Thank you.



Dear Rich:

Can you please tell me if a subordinate clause will always modify a word in the
main clause.   I had not thought much about this until I saw your diagrammed
sentence where the subordinate clause "than Donna" modifies the adjective
"taller" in the main clause.  Thank you.

*** The answer is a DEFINITE YES -- in a way.  

Adverbial clauses will always modify a verb in the main clause.  The adverbial clauses tell when, where, under what condition, etc.  They do everything that a adverb does.

Adjectival clauses will always modify a noun or pronoun in the main clause.  Many people run into problems when their adjective clauses are placed too far from the noun/pronoun being modified.  "Nearness" is important when you write adjectival clauses.

Now, for the "in a way."  Noun clauses are also subordinate clauses, but they differ from adjectival and adverbial clauses.  They do not MODIFY.  They perform a FUNCTION.

[I am typing so fast, because I really like this kind of question.]

What function do they perform?  Anything that a simple noun does can be done by noun clauses:  subject of the sentence, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, etc.


That President Obama is willing to meet with Republicans IS a positive sign.  The subject of "is" is the entire noun clause, from That to Republicans.

He deserved whatever punishment his teacher thought was necessary.  "Deserved" is a transitive verb. The entire object of this verb is the noun clause beginning with "whatever" and ending with "necessary."

Rich, I don't know if I have mentioned this to you.  I will be on vacation from Allexperts for an unknown period of time.  After eight years of seeing doctors and specialists and having many tests [particularly x-rays and MRIs], Dr. Dante Marra -- yes, he's Italian -- told me he was surprised that I was able to walk to his office.  My left hip is virtually non-existent.  The "ball and socket" joint is not there.  Instead, my x-ray shows that my hip looks like one of the earthquake diagrams, with the tectonic plates [or whatever they are called].  I have no cartilage.  There are just two flat pieces grinding against each other.  I am attaching a copy of one x-ray -- not the most revealing one, because didn't ask his office to e-mail it to me.  

When you look at the x-ray, my right hip is on your left, and you can see the ball and socket quite clear.  When you look at the right side of the x-ray, you'll see something that looks like a bomb destroyed it.

I don't know how long I'll be in the Ohio Valley Medical Center, and I don't know where they will send me for rehabilitation AND for how long.  Because of the bone deterioration [erosion], my left leg is more than 1/2 inch shorter than my right leg.

Please, you and Mrs. Rich think good thoughts for me.  I'll be back -- painless, I hope -- when I get back.

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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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