The number of people at the meeting is larger than last week. 

Some of my colleagues think it should be "last week's". However, I believe this is ellipsis:

"The number of people at the meeting is larger than [it was] last week."

Ellipsis occurs when the missing elements are recoverable from the context, even if, as here, adaptation is necessary.

What do you think?

(Source: A mock exam held in Iran)

Original Post

Hi, Freeguy,

I don't think the possessive is necessary, because -- as you say -- we can consider the than-clause as a case of ellipsis where "last week" is a time adverbial within the predicate of that clause:

- The number of people at the meeting today is larger than [it was] last week.

For the use of "last week's" to be justified, there should be another temporal noun in the genitive case in the main clause, for example:

- This week's attendants are more numerous than last week's.

It is of course also possible to postmodify the noun head and avoid the genitive, and in that case a pronoun can be used after "than":

- The attendants this week are more numerous than (those) last week.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

I like Gustavo's recommendations above. It seems that the book is aiming to give learners practice in using "that" as a pronoun. For what it's worth, I'd naturally express the idea like this:

  • There are more people at the meeting than there were last week.

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