By pyobum


2015-04-02 06:35:27 8 Comments

Suppose we are comparing a particular characteristic (that takes comparative -er) of two items, A and B. Compared to B, A displays double that characteristic. There are multiple ways we can express this:

1) A is two times as (adj.) as B.

2) A is twice as (adj.) as B.

3) A is two times (adj.)-er than B.

4) A is twice (adj.)-er than B.

My "American English ear" hears that last one as...troublesome. Yet a Google search turns up examples of this construction (e.g. "twice larger", "twice longer").

Is this construction valid in any (or all?) varieties of English?

1 comments

@Kris 2015-04-02 07:24:01

"Is this construction valid in any (or all?) varieties of English?" – Yes, the "construction" is; the semantics may not be, though.

There's nothing "unAmerican" about it either.

"My … ear hears that last one as...troublesome." – all ears ought to find it so, it's semantically awkward/ maybe even invalid (fails to make sense to some?), yet it works.

All English: twice larger than had a respectable life, dominated over two times larger than for some time around (late) 1800s, and continues to lead a quiet and comfortable life today.

See also: AmE; BrE

This answer is not based on interpretation of nGrams – I started off with the answer, and then found nGrams to be supportive, to some extent, of what I wanted to say.

@FumbleFingers 2015-04-02 13:06:23

The way I read your AmE; BrE charts is that in the mid 1800s there were a (relatively small) number of "less-than-competent speakers" in America at the time. Dutch immigrants might figure highly there, since my understanding from this Chicago Linguistic Society article is the "error" represents normal syntax in their mother tongue. I see it as a syntax/idiomatic usage issue in English (I can't see any semantic issues).

@Kris 2015-04-02 13:55:48

@FumbleFingers "This answer is not based on interpretation of nGrams"

@FumbleFingers 2015-04-02 15:52:18

I know - I'm just saying I think that if anything the NGrams (showing a temporary mid-1800 peak for the usage in AmE but not BrE) imply it has not had "a respectable life". It just seems to reflect a small number of "non-idiomatic" usages from people still affected by their (non-English) native language.

@Barmar 2015-04-02 18:09:32

When I click on the details of the bump around 1890, there seem to be lots of repetitions of the same report from the Michigan Board of Agriculture.

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