"as rich as him", "as rich as he" or "as rich as he is"

39

9

1) I've never met a man as rich as him.

2) I've never met a man as rich as he.

3) I've never met a man as rich as he is.

Which one of the above-mentioned is correct (in formal scenario) and why? Also, how do I detect the subject and the object for this question?

Shoaib Ashraf

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 500

11Not answering you question, but for natural speech consider, "I've never met someone so/that rich." Concise. – David – 2017-01-31T12:10:18.290

1Yes, it's best to just simplify it: so rich or that rich. /As rich as he is/ is the grammatical one. The subject is I and the object is man: to meet a man. – Lambie – 2017-01-31T15:45:04.110

2Number 2) is considered most proper in a formal grammatical context, but this construction is not often used as it may sound awkward in both written and spoken form. 1) is generally accepted in a less formal setting, and in fact sounds "more natural" to native speakers. Number 3) is acceptable but seems unnecessarily verbose and a little awkward. – Deepak – 2017-02-01T03:08:45.607

Answers

54

What's happening in these sentences is that you are starting with an original idea like this:

I have never met a man who is as rich as he is rich.

That sentence sounds strange because we haven't applied any ellipsis- the process of pruning unnecessary or repeated items from a sentence. The minimum ellipsis for a natural sentence is to remove the repeated rich:

I've never met a man who is as rich as he is.

We can also remove the unnecessary who is, giving your sentence 3:

3) I've never met a man as rich as he is.

If you look at the original sentence, you will see the there are two instances of is, so we can also remove the duplicate is:

I've never met a man who is as rich as he.

Take out the who is and you get to sentence 2:

  1. I've never met a man as rich as he.

With all that ellipsis, many people will have lost touch with the grammar of the complete sentence, and feel uncomfortable with the he at the end of the sentence, so they change it to the first one:

  1. I've never met a man as rich as him.

This is what the majority of people would say in normal speech. When you look at writing (see this NGram), you will find significantly more sentences like 3, and a very small number of examples like sentence 2 - and mainly at the 'literary' end of the market. Meanwhile, sentence 1 hardly figures at all in written English: this gives a pretty good indication that sentence 1 is not generally considered acceptable in writing.

In a formal setting, 3 would be OK in any context and 2 would be acceptable in a literary context (poetry and novels, especially historical novels): 1 would be acceptable if it appeared in dialogue in a novel.


As a side note, the reason that him/he is an issue can best be explained with a simpler and better documented example. The dictionary definition of than states that it can be a preposition or a conjunction. As a preposition, than requires an object pronoun:

Jane is richer than him

As a conjunction, than requires a clause (which contains a subject pronoun):

Jane is richer than he is

For some reason, we prefer to treat than (and also the as ... as construction) as a preposition in everyday speech, but as a conjunction in formal writing. To quote in full the passage that Mari-Lou referred to in her answer:

Research associated with the Longman Grammar (1999) showed that speakers mostly use than (and as) as prepositions (i.e. with a following object pronoun) and only rarely with a following subject pronoun. Fiction writers make about equal use of the two constructions, while academic writers use neither.

JavaLatte

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 43 538

In formal writing I feel like (1) would also be okay? (despite the non-grammaticality) – user541686 – 2017-01-31T10:52:47.393

1@Mehrdad, I have added a comment about this: check the NGram and you will see that in writing sentence 1 probably isn't OK. – JavaLatte – 2017-01-31T11:26:06.730

@JavaLatte I think Mehrdad and I both agree with you that #1 ("him") is very seldom seen in writing, but I also feel that depending on the purpose of writing, an occasional lapse into a form more often spoken, if annotated sufficiently, and enhancing the written work while not corrupting the readers comprehension of the author's intent, should in no way be considered "bad manners" [sic] in all literary circles. Wouldn't you agree? – SlimsGhost – 2017-01-31T16:40:02.960

8This answer has a lot of upvotes, but it quite incorrectly asserts that as him is ungrammatical. If the analysis from ellipsis makes the wrong prediction, you should reject the analysis. Data first, reasoning second. – snailplane – 2017-01-31T17:05:22.247

@SlimsGhost: I agree, however the OP's question specifically asks about a formal scenario. – JavaLatte – 2017-01-31T23:03:36.520

@snailplane: I have removed the word "Ungrammatical". When it comes to written English, would you not agree that the NGram is pretty compelling evidence? – JavaLatte – 2017-01-31T23:05:58.887

5

You can't really conclude anything from that Google Books Ngram Viewer graph, since any word could follow he. Let's try searching COCA, where we can search for a string that ends a sentence. In this search, we find 44 results for as (adjective) as he, and 18 results for as (adjective) as him. If we look at the actual examples, we find that as he most often appears in fiction writing that deliberately evokes an older style, and doesn't appear very often in the other subcorpora (news, academic writing, magazines, spoken English).

– snailplane – 2017-02-01T00:29:52.287

Of course you can't just look at the NGram graph and make a decision, snailplane, but if you look at a representative sample of the hits that it produced, you will see that, as I stated, "...as he is." is the clear winner. Your COCA search compares the two also-rans and excludes the winner. – JavaLatte – 2017-02-01T01:35:27.633

How do I conclude that which form of pronoun will go with certain sentence? Is there a rule for it? If 'that' is the indicator then how do I understand if it is conjunction or preposition? And, what if there is no 'that' in a certain sentence? – Shoaib Ashraf – 2017-02-01T11:28:13.987

@ShoaibAshraf: It's tricky. All three sentences are grammatically correct: it's a question of choosing which one is appropriate for your intended audience. My advice is to look for similar examples (NGram found lots) and choose one from a publication that seems to be aimed at your intended audience. – JavaLatte – 2017-02-01T14:50:38.230

1Every. Single. Thing. About this post was enlightening in some way. – Ryan Foley – 2017-02-02T02:37:40.740

14

All three are OK, some purists will argue that the second is formally correct

I've never met a man as rich as he

The use of the personal pronoun ‘he’ sounds more refined to some ears, more "British" and therefore more correct.

The majority of native speakers will use the object pronoun, and say

I've never met a man as rich as him.

Tagging the auxiliary verb at the end, is overkill in my opinion, but perfectly grammatical. Some might even call it redundant.

I've never met a man as rich as he is.


For a more technical explanation, Barrie England's answer (posted in 2011) includes this snippet from ‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’

[Emphasis in bold mine]

Research associated with the Longman Grammar (1999) showed that speakers mostly use than (and as) as prepositions (i.e. with a following object pronoun) and only rarely with a following subject pronoun.

Also related:
1. Is "she was younger than he" a grammatically correct expression?
2. "than her" versus "than she"
3. Is it wrong to say "You are smarter than me"?
4. "than I" vs. "than me"

Addendum

In the most formal correspondence, e.g academic essays, contractions are best avoided, a higher-register term than rich should be used, and the auxiliary should accompany the subject pronoun.

I have never met a man as wealthy as he is.

For emphasis and greater effect, use inversion and brevity

Never have I met a wealthier man.

Mari-Lou A

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 19 962

The pronoun he, more often than not precedes another verb, which would be ungrammatical if the object pronoun was used instead. The BrEng corpus Ngram shows that *he is* is the most common form followed closely by *he was*.

– Mari-Lou A – 2017-02-01T06:59:30.403

The inverse is true if we look at the AmEng corpus using Ngram. Unfortunately the link is too long for me to post in a single comment. – Mari-Lou A – 2017-02-01T07:02:37.413

The rephrasing at the end avoids an unrelated issue with the original sentence: if the speaker has met the man in question, then they have met one man so wealthy--the man himself. This logical issue is typically not considered a problem except in grammar books and highly formal writing. – Kyle Strand – 2017-02-01T15:57:15.257

5

The "as ... as" construction is often used when you are comparing two people, things, or situations:

John is as rich as Jack.

An old woman with hair as white as snow.

Sometimes the second thing is not an explicit noun like:

Trump is as rich as he says.

In your case, the best formal one is the third sentence, "...is as rich as he is".

The second one, "...is as rich as he" is grammatically correct; this sentence implies the same as "... is as rich as he [is]" where the second "is" has been removed by ellipsis.

Most English speakers don't follow this rule, especially while speaking; they would say, "... is as rich as him."

Ahmad

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 8 443

1

First one is incorrect grammatically but used in common speaking. 2nd is less natural but I think correct. The best form in my opinion is 3rd. As, because, while, and since are a subordinating conjunctions, which require a subject pronoun.

Czarcik

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 11

2Welcome to English Language Learners. Could you please explain why your answer is correct? Answers without explanations don't teach the patterns of English well. – Glorfindel – 2017-01-31T08:32:20.477

1

Adding to the other answers, mainly to point out that this is not useless and actually can matter.

Consider the following two sentences:

1) I know you better than he.

2) I know you better than him.

The two sentences are both correct, but with different meanings. In their "complete forms", the sentences would look like this:

1) I know you better than he knows you.

2) I know you better than I know him.

Gendarme

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 111

The syntax may be off, as I wrote this on my phone. Feel free to edit. – Gendarme – 2017-01-31T12:54:07.807

3The second sentence is actually ambiguous. It can mean "I know you better than I know him" or "I know you better than he knows you". – snailplane – 2017-02-01T01:15:27.663

0

All of these constructions sounds odd to my ear, the more natural construction, in my view, would be:

He was the richest man I ever met.

Of the three you offered, I would say "I never met a man as rich as he is" is the most correct but also the most stilted. "I never met a man as rich as he" sounds like deliberate emphasis for poetic effect (I would expect a subtle emphasis one the 'he' when spoken) whilst "I never met a man as rich as him" sounds most natural. Although, even then, I'd expect a native speaker to prefer a different construct such as the one I give above.

Jack Aidley

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 786

-1

Saying it in slightly different words helps determine the correct pronoun:

I've never met anyone with as much money as he (has).

It would sound formal in conversation with many American speakers, who almost always (incorrectly) use the direct object pronoun (him) in these types of sentences.

user8356

Posted 2017-01-31T07:35:27.507

Reputation: 908