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Section 6.14.3

Ambiguous Comparisons

As you construct a comparison, you can often avoid wordiness by shortening the basis of the comparison. However, doing so can introduce ambiguity, so abbreviate your bases of comparisonwith care. If you shorten your basis of comparison, you must check to make surethat the basis is still clear.

You can often repair an ambiguous comparison by adding a pronoun.


Unacceptable

The symposium revealed that more was known thanrealized.[More was known than was accomplished, or more was known than was thought?]

Acceptable

The symposium revealed that more was known than werealized.

--Norman Boucher, "Back to the Everglades," Technology Review(modified)


You can often repair ambiguous comparisons by adding an auxiliary verb.


Unacceptable

Von Neumann took a very different approach towards artificial intelligence(AI) than other computer scientists. [Was his approach toward AI different from his approach toward other computerscientists, or was his approach different from the approach of other computerscientists?]

Acceptable

Von Neumann took a very different approach towards artificial intelligence(AI) than other computer scientists did.

--Kai Wu, "Artificial Life," SciTech Magazine (modified)


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