When You’re (Missing) a Word in a Comparison

Writers sometimes leave out small necessary words when making comparisons. Sometimes sentences look just fine to our eyes at first glance, but a deeper examination reveals a problem.

Take a look at these sentences and see if they seem structurally correct to you:

  • Tech employees fear layoffs less than bus drivers.
  • The district attorney considers those vigilantes more dangerous than the criminals.
  • This book deals more with the mysteries of the universe than the laws of physics.
  • Our profits were higher this year than 2014.
  • The US imports more oil from the Middle East than Mexico.

Can you think of what words are missing from those sentences? Sometimes you need to put in a verb or preposition to make the sentence structurally correct.

Here are the sentences rewritten correctly:

  • Tech employees fear layoffs less than bus drivers do.
  • The district attorney considers those vigilantes more dangerous than she does the criminals.
  • This book deals more with the mysteries of the universe than with the laws of physics.
  • Our profits were higher this year than in 2104
  • The US imports more oil from the Middle East than from Mexico

It may seem a small thing to consider, but if you are aiming for accuracy and clarity, it’s best to (not) ignore the small necessary words!


Got grammar? All the posts in my Say What? section of my blog for these last four years are compiled in the second edition—and so much more. This handy grammar guide is chock-full of fiction-writing tips and features one simple, clear entry per page to make learning painless and quick!

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This handy, user-friendly reference book, presented with style and humor, is a must for any writer serious about honing their craft and garnering respect for their works. An essential resource, the e-book will save you time with all its quick links to the short, snappy topics, and the print version is small enough to stay within reach beside your computer, so I highly recommend getting both. Respected editor and writer Susanne Lakin succeeds in making a dry topic interesting and meaningful! And using this book will also help you reduce your editing costs.

—Jodie Renner, editor and author of Style That Sizzles

As a self-professed grammar nerd, let me just say this: The world needs more grammar nerds. Editor Lakin is doing her part to make this happen with her pithy, fun, and supremely useful guide to the everyday writing mistakes most of us don’t even realize we’re making. Her book is conversational and approachable enough to make for enjoyable reading. But its true value is in its “lookupability.” This is the perfect guide to keep on your desk, next to your computer, for those moments when you’re just not sure which word is right.

—K. M. Weiland, author of Structuring Your Novel

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