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three times longer than=three times as long as?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kent78, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. kent78 New Member

    Central China
    Chinese
    Hi,
    Look at the following two sentences:
    The rope is three times longer than that one.
    The rope is three times as long as that one.
    Do the two sentences mean the same?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Unless the speaker or writer defined it differently, I would suppose that three times longer than meant the same thing as four times as long as. "Longer" seems to refer to the difference between the two lengths.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  3. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    3 hours is three times longer than one hour, isn't it? The times refers to a multiplication.
    And 3 hours is 3 times as long as one hour.
    So they both mean the same in my book.
     
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    There are several previous threads about this type of issue, kent. Here's one that give links to some earlier threads: ...times ... than/as.
     
  5. kent78 New Member

    Central China
    Chinese
    From above, there still is no agreement about the two sentences. Anyway, thank you three for your timely reply.
     
  6. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    You are correct Kent. There is no agreement.
    I am amazed reading the links provided by Loob (and, indirectly, others) that 3 x longer, or any x longer, can be interpreted as the (multiplication x) plus the original figure.
    Smacks to me of looking for complications just for the sake of it, but there you are.
    I still say that a film 3 times longer than another lasts 300% the time of the other.
    But others disagree.
     
  7. jonmaz Senior Member

    melbourne
    English-Australia
    If I may be permitted to say, "The rope is one times longer than that one", then one is twice the length of the other...not of equal length. The speaker (writer) has indicated that one is longer than the other.


    This seems to support the notion that three times longer than means the same thing as four times as long as.
     
  8. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    I understand your reasoning, jonmaz, but the simple truth is that native English speakers would NEVER say something is one time (or one times) longer than another thing. It's just not said. Or understood.
    If you mean double the length, then choose "double" as your verb, or "twice" the length.

    You see: 1 times 1 = 1, whereas 1 plus 1 = 2
    2 times 1 = 2
    3 times 1 = 3 etc
     
  9. True_Liberal New Member

    Cincinnati
    English (American)
    I have seen a like expression "three times less than ..." or "117% less than ..." used in print. I submit that this is meaningless - unless the writer deigns the cite the actual numbers involved.
     
  10. jonmaz Senior Member

    melbourne
    English-Australia


    Thanks Spira. We speak a version of English down here in Australia and, happily, I too like "native English speakers", have never and would never say something like "one times". I failed to make that clear it seems.

    I am from the camp who when saying or hearing that b is three times longer than a, believes b to be four times the length of a. Obviously such statements are ambiguous and if one's life depended upon knowing the actual length of a rope, it would be prudent to construct the sentence providing unmistakable details.

    In the meantime...isn't this fun!
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  11. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    Jonmaz, I actually did not notice that you were from Australia, and therefore a native English-speaker! My apologies.
    Having said that, no, you did not make it clear that you would not say "one times".
    Which is what lead me to believe that English was not your first language.

    I have discovered the existence of "your camp" on this question only today thanks to this forum.
     
  12. jonmaz Senior Member

    melbourne
    English-Australia
    Hello Spira. An apology was not sought or necessary but thanks anyway.

    Our primary task is to help the Chinese speaking kent78 with his/her enquiry. I think that, between us all, we have shown that there probably are better ways of describing the relative lengths of ropes. “This rope is three times the length of that one” would be simple enough.
     
  13. arueng Senior Member

    CHINESE
    <<Moderator note : Arueng's question has been merged with this thread>>

    It usually takes me ten minutes to get to the train station.
    It takes me thirty minutes to get to the train station during rush hours.


    Hi,
    Is it right to combine the above two into the following one? If not, how should I say it right? Thanks.

    It takes me three times more time than usual to get to the train station during rush hours.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  14. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    If it took you twenty minutes you would say "It took me twice as long as usual".
    If it takes you thirty minutes you say "It takes me three times longer than usual".
     
  15. arueng Senior Member

    CHINESE
    Thanks, Velisa, for the quick reply.
    Your versions are perfect to me.
    I wonder if the following are also ok.

    It takes me triples as much time as usual.
    It takes me three times as much time as usual.
     
  16. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    It takes me triples as much time as usual. :cross:
    It takes me three times as much time as usual I don't find this incorrect, but the repetition of 'time' is clumsy and I haven't seen or heard it used. There are other possibilities, but they seem clumsy to me. Do others have any suggestions?
     
  17. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I would advise caution on the use of a comparative followed by than. I would stick with "three times as long" to avoid the possible interpretation that it takes "X minutes plus 3x minutes". I'll see if I can find a thread with that discussion. Here's one such thread.
     
  18. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Julian is right about the ambiguity of "three times longer", but (unfortunately for those of us who prefer logical expression :)) people talk that way.
    I agree with velisarius that it's better to use "longer", in order to avoid the repetition of "time" (with different meanings).
     
  19. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Or even "three times as long as usual" - avoiding the repetition and the ambiguity :D
     
  20. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    <<Moderator note: Wandle's comment was added to this thread before the insertion of posts 13-19 by the merge operation>>
    p
    Well, that beats all. This is directly contrary to what we are taught in school about the meaning of the English expression 'three times longer than' (at least, what I was taught and what everyone I have ever known or read would understand).

    What could possibly be the logic which makes three times equal four times?

    Having got over my initial amazement, and attempting to find some sense in it, I arrive at the following.

    Suppose a is two feet long.
    If we say b is three feet longer than a, we mean that b equals a plus three feet. In this case, b is five feet long.

    Accordingly, it seems, the three-equals-four camp are saying to themselves:

    "If we say b is three times longer than a, we mean that b equals a plus 'three times'.
    Now three times two is six, therefore b equals two plus six: equals eight feet long."

    This seems to me to be nothing but a misunderstanding of 'three times longer than'.
    'Three times longer' expresses simply a multiplication (b = 3a), not a multiplication plus an addition (b = 3a + a).
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  21. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    Oh I also have problem with twice and triple...so, continue with the OP, may I say:
    It takes me 30 minutes to get to the train station during rush hours, nearly triple that as usual.
    (as I found in the dictionary: triple something--three times as large as something)

    And what about replacing "triple" with "twice", like:
    ..., nearly twice as usual. (without that, I assume)

    What do you think? Thanks!
     
  22. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Stick A is three feet longer than stick B. if stick B is 1 foot long, then stick A is 4 feet long.
    In this construction we "add" the three excess items to the original item.

    I believe the above is the cause of the confusion in those who are confused.
    Some seem to see it as analogous Stick A is three times longer than stick B.

    Given that there are people who think this way, the "times [comparative] than" construction should be avoided.
     
  23. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Yes. We are addding an express quantity (three feet).

    However, 'three times x' is not an express quantity, but a function of a variable.
    The variable to which it applies cannot be anything other than the initial quantity (here, one foot).
    Once that calculation is worked out (three times one is three), the expression of the formula 'three times longer' is completed. Job done.

    It seems a very sad day if we are reduced to this precaution.
     
  24. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I agree and I was surprised to find that ambiguity existed. However, I also find it hard to conceive of a world where my innate mathematical ability did not exist and the whole numerical skill was absent. I was born finding arithmetic amd mathematics very easy (perhaps you were too:) ) but not everyone was so fortunate and some would simply not understand the meaning of
    .
     
  25. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    Precisely. And "three feet longer" than one foot is four feet.
     
  26. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Correct. That is an example of addition.
    'Three times longer' is an example of multiplication. Three times one equals three.

    Each of the two cases involves one operation.
     
  27. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    "Three times longer" tells how much longer than the original length. The new length is derived by adding the additional amount to the original. Three times longer than one is (three times one plus one).
     
  28. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    The operation 'times' does not and cannot include the operation 'plus'.
    If there is to be an addition as well as a multiplication, it needs to be separately expressed.

    The expression 'three times one plus one' does include two operations, separately expressed.
    The expression 'three times longer than one' contains only one operation. It is multiplication only.
     

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