Forgive me if this is not the right sort of question to post here, but I was curious as to the derivation of the above sentence. (Apparently the correct choice is 'we').

Their class has more singers than we [have singers]


Their class has more singers than we [ do [have singers] ]

where [] denotes Ellipsis?

  • The title implies that you want to know if it's "we" or "us", but the body of the question is about something else.
    – Joe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:56
  • Sorry, I meant to indicate that the given sentence was the topic of discussion, since it is what started me thinking, not just to focus on the choice between we and us. I'll change accordingly
    – user2194
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:57
  • By the way, I would claim quite strongly that the correct form is either "us" or "we do", but certainly not a plain "we".
    – Joe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


Since we do is equivalent to we have singers, there is no test by which it is possible to tell which of these is what is ellipsed.

(The correct choice became we when some grammarian decided a couple of hundred years ago that English grammar was supposed to be Latin grammar. The ordinary English has always been than us. The OED says " With a personal or relative pronoun in the objective case instead of the nominative (as if than were a preposition).This is app. the invariable construction in the case of than whom, which is universally accepted instead of than who. With the personal pronouns it is now considered incorrect.")

  • The it in the last sentence of the OED citation is confusing me. Is than we now considered incorrect or is than us now considered incorrect? (According to the OED, anyhow.)
    – Joe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:17
  • The OED is saying that than us was formerly normal (it has examples of than us, than them etc from 1506 to 1861) but is "now" considered incorrect. I don't see a date on the article.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:28
  • Dictionaries are not the places to go for grammatical information. Particularly when it involves whole constructions, like the comparative, which is quite possibly the most complex construction in English.
    – jlawler
    Jun 26, 2013 at 21:30
  • Is there any documentation from Old English on the topic? Jun 27, 2013 at 4:33
  • 2
    Oh, that's not my field at all. I don't pay any attention to peevers and zombie rules, let alone their history. You need somebody in historical peevolinguistics.
    – jlawler
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:17

The comparison is with their class and not with them; therefore, the parallel for comparison is not ourselves but rather our class. The correct finish, then, is "ours": "Their class has more singers than ours."

  • While I would also prefer to use "ours" if I were using this sentence myself, the OP asks about what is to be considered as the implied, unexpressed part of the sentence they gave. Saying "neither" would be an answer, for example, but I think saying that a different sentence is preferable to begin with, while possibly quite useful as a comment, isn't an answer in my opinion.
    – LjL
    Dec 10, 2019 at 23:25

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