Usage of comparative degree.

Imran   Monday, January 26, 2004, 17:12 GMT
Please go over the sentences below.

1. His car is cheaper than my motor bike.
2. His car is cheaper than my motor bike is.

Which one sounds more appropriate? Please give explanation!

3. A motor bike is easy to operate.
4. A motor bike is easy to ride.
5. A motor bike is easy to drive.

Is operate acceptable intead of ride. In case of pillion riding what would you call the person sitting behind? You use 'ride' for the person operating a bike. It's pretty confusing for me.
mjd   Monday, January 26, 2004, 22:04 GMT

In your first group, sentence #1 is the better choice. Ending the sentence with "is" doesn't sound too good. You don't need "is" again. "His car is cheaper than my motor bike." .....It's obvious we're talking about price in the third person singular, so you don't need to use it again.

As for your second group of sentences:

All three sentences are correct. (I'd say "motorcycle" but perhaps they're called "motor bikes" in other parts of the world). "Operate" sounds very instructional...the type of word that would appear on a document of some sort. "Ride" and "drive" are both okay, although if one wanted to be priggish, one can ride without driving (a passenger hanging onto the driver). If one were speaking colloquially, I'd opt for "ride" or "drive" over "operate" and "drive" over "ride."

Hope this helps.
Jim   Tuesday, January 27, 2004, 00:28 GMT
I'd agree that sentence 1 is better than sentence 2 ... usually. Grammatically speaking sentence 2 is the full sentence and 1 is an ellipsis. Consider the following sentence.

6. John is shorter than me.

Now, this is how we'd usually put it but some may argue that really is should be as follows to be correct grammatically.

7. John is shorter than I.

They say this because the full sentence should be as follows.

8. John is shorter than I am.

Sentence 6 sounds correct but too stuffy. Sentence 8 sounds fine but a bit long winded. So most of us would just say 6. However, there are times when the distinction is important, take the following sentence, for example.

9. John loves Mary more than I do.

You might be inclined to shorten it to this.

10. John loves Mary more than me.

However, that could be taken to mean the following.

11. John loves Mary more than he loves me.

To correctly shorten sentence 9 you should do this.

12. John loves Mary more than I.

Now consider this one.

13. John owns more dogs than Mr. Robertson.

So John and Mr. Robertson are dog owners, right? And John's got more of them than Mr. Robertson has, right? ... Maybe. Have a look at this.

14. John owns more dogs than Rover.

You suddenly get a different impression because "Rover" is a common dog's name. So Rover's probably a dog, a dog owned by John but not the only dog owned by John. Then, on the other hand, perhaps Rover is just a dog owning person with an unfortunate name just as Mr. Robertson could be a dog with a bit of an odd name.

To get around the difficulty you could use the full sentence as follows.

15. John owns more dogs than Mr. Robertson owns.

Also, you might want to make the other one clear, perhaps like this.

16. John owns more dogs than just Rover.

Still, to begin with I agreed that sentence 1 was better than sentence 2. In every day speech it is common to shorten sentences. Native speakers would prefer to say 1 than 2. Sentence 2 is a bit long winded. This is why 1 is better than 2 in all but perhaps quite formal contexts.

As for sentences 3, 4 and 5, I'd never use 5: "to drive a motorbike" just doesn't sound right to me. Sentence 3, like mjd wrote, does sound technical but it would usually mean the same thing as 4. Though 3 is a bit more general: you might be doing something else with your motorbike than riding it, for example, you could be using it as a makeshift electric generator. As for "motorbike" verses "motorcycle"; I'd almost always say "motorbike", "motorcycle" sounds like a mouthful but it's all a matter of dialect.
mjd   Tuesday, January 27, 2004, 01:14 GMT
Back to the drive/ride issue:

I was thinking of the words in terms of meaning rather than how we normally use them (i.e. drive and ride can mean two different things).

However, I have to correct myself on saying I'd choose "drive" over "ride." In everyday life one says they're going to go "ride their motorcycle/bike". If I owned a motorcycle and if I planned on going out on it, I'd say to everyone: "I'm going to go ride my motorcycle." .......I wouldn't say "drive" or "operate" (they sound too technical).

So, Imran, for colloquial speech I'd recommend that you use "ride."
Imran   Tuesday, January 27, 2004, 17:31 GMT
Thank you, people for your detailed explanation. I can't give you anything in return. I wish I could chat with you face to face!