Phrases of comparison with conjunctions jako (as), než (than)

The expression jako (as) is ambiguous and it can be used also in other phrases than those of comparison, see esp. sect. The conjunction jako introducing complement or object, the relevant parts of the sections devoted to complements and objects, and the sect. Non-agreeing attribute expressed by a noun introduced by the conjunction jako (as, like) and Attribute expressed by a subordinate clause.

The conjunction než (than) can introduce also a specific case of subject (see Subject introduced by the conjunction než (than, but)).

The placement of the conjunction

The conjunction než requires an adverb or an adjective (esp. in the comparative) to be present, with which the comparison is being made; therefore, než is suspended on this adverb or adjective.

In the phrase stejně jako (similarly as) the expression stejně can be deleted; if stejně is present, then jako depends on it; if stejně is missing, then jako is suspended under that node that would be its governor without a violation of any syntactic relation (i.e. the absence of the word stejně is not a good reason to use afun ExD in case where it would not be used otherwise).

Syntactic function of comparison

The structures with conjunctions jako and než expressing comparison are regarded as adverbials (Adv); however, deletions are frequent, in which case afun ExD is assigned. See also Adverbial expressed by a clause (or a group) with conjunctions jak(o) - as, než(li) - than.

Structures assigned Adv

A complete embedded clause

If jako/než is followed by a full embedded clause (containing a tensed verb), the clause depends on the expressions of comparison (stejný/stejně jako similar as, velký jako big as, jinde než elsewhere, jinak než otherwise. The expression stejný/stejně can be deleted and then the clause is suspended on the node where this expression would have been suspended.

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    vypadá   jinak,   než   vypadal   včera  
    he-looks   other   than   he-looked   yesterday  
    he looks different from how he looked yesterday
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    vypadá,   jako   vypadal   včera  
    he-looks   as   he-looked   yesterday  
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    vypadá   stejně   jako   vypadal   včera  
    he-looks   the-same-way   as   he-looked   yesterday  
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    vypadá,   jako   by   zhubl  
    he-looks   as-if   would   he-lost-weight  
    he looks like having got leaner
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    vypadá,   jako   kdyby   zhubl  
    he-looks   as-if   would   he-lost-weight  
    he looks like having got leaner
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    viděl   motýla,   který   byl   takový,   jako   by   zářil  
    he-saw   butterfly   that   was   such   as   would   he-shine  
    he saw a butterfly that was as if it was shining
  7. image

    viděl   motýla,   který   jako   by   zářil  
    he-saw   butterfly   that   as   would   he-shine  
    he saw a butterfly that was like shining

The sentence in the last example is a full embedded clause (jako by zářil as would he-shine), but it will get afun ExD because the governor, namely the expression of comparison takový (such) is missing (this expression is present in the previous example).


If jako/než is followed first by another subordinating conjunction and only then a tensed verb (as in přinesl mi jiné knihy, než když tu byl minule he brought me different books than when he was here last time), the clause is treated as an ellipsis (see Phrases assigned ExD below) and assigned afun ExD.

A syntactically suitable element

If a complete embedded clause has not been found, it is necessary to decide whether the element standing in its place may get afun Adv or if an ellipsis is the case (ExD). Adv is assigned if both elements that are compared are on the 'same' level, which can be determined on the basis of the following three criteria:

  • nothing can be inserted into the phrase of comparison (ex. (1) cannot be reformulated as pověsil obrázek níž než to pověsil pod okno he hanged the picture lower than he hang it under the window),

  • the element following the conjunction could be placed in the position where the original phrase was placed (ex. (1) can be transformed as pověsil to pod okno he hanged it under window),

  • the element following the conjunction is semantically "equivalent" to the element before the conjunction; if the element before the conjunction is in comparative, it is necessary to use its basic form: in this sense, the expressions nízko (low) and pod okno (under the window) are "equivalent" in (1).

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    pověsil   obrázek   níž   než   pod   okno  
    he-hanged   picture   lower   than   under   window  
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    udělal   to   stejně   kvalitně   jako   rychle  
    he-made   it   equally   well   as   quickly  
    he made it as perfectly as quickly
  3. hraje   déle   než   30   let  
    he-plays   longer   than   30   years  
  4. je   starostí   víc   než   dost  
    there-is   sorrows   more   than   enough  
  5. koupíme   to   jinde   než   na   trhu  
    we-shall-buy   it   somewhere-else   than   on   market  

Phrases assigned ExD

The phrases of comparison are elliptical: the verb is followed by one or more elements, without a verb, so that they cannot be treated according to the points mentioned above (one of these members may be an embedded clause that would modify the predicate of the immediately subrodinated clause - see the warning in point A complete embedded clause above). For such cases, we use afun ExD (see also part Ellipsis of predicate in clauses introduced by conjuctions jak(o) (like), než(li) (than)).

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    ztráta   větší   než   miliarda    
    loss   greater   than   billion   (= than is a billion)  
  2. velká   jako   hrom  
    great   as   thunder  
  3. malý   jako   dlaň  
    small   as   palm  
  4. je   to   šroubek   méně   kvalitní   než   jiné   západní   šroubky  
    is   it   screw   less   perfect   than   other   western   screws  
  5. cíl   je   mít   ceny   nižší   než   konkurence  
    objective   is   to-have   prices   lower   than   competitors  
  6. dorazili   dříve   než   Jirka  
    they-arrived   sooner   than   Jirka  
  7. Jan   oslovil   docenta   zdvořileji   než   kamarád  
    Jan   addressed   assistent   more-politely   than   friend  
    (= than he addressed his friend)  
  8. Jan   oslovil   docenta   zdvořileji   než   kamarád  
    Jan   addressed   assistent   more-politely   than   friend  
    (= than he was addressed by his friend)  
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    hovořili   o     spíše   jako   o   modelu   než   jako   o  
    they-spoke   about   it   rather   as   about   model   than   as   about  
    konečné   pravdě  
    definite   truth  

Addition 1

There will be few cases of the type A syntactically suitable element, cf. the ambiguity with udělal to jindy než včera (he did it at another time than yesterday):

  1. Adv: he did it on some other day than yesterday

    ExD: on some other day than he did it yesterday

Addition 2

Let us present some more examples with the conjunction jako:

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    udělal   to   úplně   stejně   tak   rychle   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   completely   equally   so   quickly   as   Tonda  
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    udělal   to   stejně   rychle   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   equally   quickly   as   Tonda  
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    udělal   to   stejně   tak   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   equally   so   as   Tonda  
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    udělal   to   rychle   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   quickly   as   Tonda  
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    udělal   to   stejně   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   equally   as   Tonda  
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    udělal   to   jako   Tonda  
    he-did   it   as   Tonda  

In ex. (1), (2) and (4) the position of the word Tonda (ExD) can be occupied e.g. by the word kvalitně (perfectly) with afun Adv. On the other hand, in ex. (3), (5) and (6) such a word cannot be added.

Addition 3

Let us present some more examples with the conjunction než (than):

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    více   piv   než   tři  
    more   beers   than   three  
    more glasses of beer than three
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    více   než   tři   piva  
    more   than   three   beers-Gen-Sing  
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    více   než   šest   piv  
    more   than   six   beers-Gen-Plur  
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    více   než   šest   piv  
    more   than   six   beers-Gen-Plur  

The meaning of (1) is clear: a man was drinking beer and the total of glasses of beer he drank was more than three. In (2) the number of glasses is not so important - the sentence only says that he drank three glasses and something in addition (maybe a liquor, a glass of whisky, milk or perhaps some more glasses of beer). The phrase více než šest piv (more than six glasses of beer) is then ambiguous (this holds for numerals denoting higher numbers than four): this is illustrated by the structures in (3) and (4).

Let us add that with more complicated structures of quantity, the part expressing the quantity is suspended on the conjunction než and the part expressing the counted objects is suspended on the expression více (more). The "scope" of these parts is discussed in part Representation of a numerical expression of quantity.