about how much larger...

rusita preciosa

Modus forendi
Russian (Moscow)
This is a problem from a math textbook:

Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, has an area of about 31670 square miles. Lake Erie, the smallest of the Great Lakes, has an area of about 9920 square miles. About how much larger is lake Superior than Lake Erie?

Based on how the question is phrased, what would your answer be (first instinct, without analyzing):

- about 20000 sq.mi larger
- about 3 times larger?
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Regardless of the mathematical facts, I would never say "- about three times larger" because that is ambiguous - see times more than.
    So that answer is a definite no, leaving the first as the immediate response, right or wrong.


    Senior Member
    English English
    It seems an odd question for a maths text book, Rusita. Is that how maths is taught these days? ~ what do you get approximately if you subtract 235 from 976?:D


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Actually I think it's a good thing to teach in maths: you should be able to instantly glance at 31 670 and 9 920 and see that the difference is about 20 000, and that one is about three times larger than the other. You should also learn that there's a linguistic ambiguity about the way we talk about this: that it could also be said that the one is bigger than the other by twice as much. You also need real-world knowledge that neither one of these is correct to the exclusion of the other.

    To answer the original question, I don't know which I'd instantly think of. They're both appropriate.
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