Grammar OK here? 1. He is the taller of the two brothers. 2. He would make a better engineer than a doctor.

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1. He is the taller of the two brothers.

2. He would make a better engineer than a doctor.

1.      The “grammar” is correct here (that is, no rules of English grammar are violated), but there is some awkward syntax (word order).  A better sentence might be: “Of the two brothers, he is the taller.”

      The reason this syntax is smoother is because the words “of the two brothers” prepares the reader for the comparative adjective “taller.”

 

2.      Again, the “grammar” is correct, but there is some awkwardness in the ambiguity:

“He would make a better engineer than a doctor (would make).”  Or  “Of his two career choices, he is more capable of being an engineer than he is of being a doctor.”  One available clarification might be:

“He would make a better engineer than he would a doctor.”  This configuration removes the ambiguity, because the clause “he would (make) a doctor” is distinct from “Than a doctor would make.”

 

These subtleties are tied up in the grammatical scholarship called “reader response theory,” which seeks to identify expectations of  “the informed reader.”

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