one and a half times smaller than...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Solle, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. Solle

    Solle Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    Dear forum colleagues,

    Can I say "one and a half times smaller than..."? Or should I change it for "one time and a half"? Thanks a lot)
     
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    "one and a half times smaller than..." :tick:
    "one time and a half times smaller than..." :cross::eek:

    :D
     
  3. Solle

    Solle Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    Thanks a lot:)
     
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Yes, but what does it mean?
    I really don't know.
     
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    The original sample is 6 inches long

    One four times as small (smaller or 'as the original') would be 1½ inches
    One three times as small (smaller) would be 2 inches
    One two times (twice) as small (smaller) would be 3 inches

    thus we know there will be a reduction in size, and that reduction will be determined by the first number given:

    One one and a half times as small (smaller) would be 6 divided by 1½ = 4 inches.
     
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    You can say this, but it's confusing. The reason is that we first hear "one and a half times ..." and we automatically think "larger." Then we hear "smaller." We have to stop, think, and go through a reasoning process much like that in PaulQ's post - while trying to listen to the next part of what you're saying. It would be clearer to say "two-thirds the size."
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hmm :)
    Plausible, I suppose, although "one and a half times smaller than" suffers from the same problem as three times <as big as/ bigger than>, and that on top of what seems to me to be the illogical combination of "times" and "smaller" generally makes my once-mathematical brain hurt.
     
  8. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I agree with Panjandrum. "One time smaller" than something would be zero, nothing; "one and a half times smaller" would be . . . I don't know; antimatter, I guess.
     
  9. xyzyxx Senior Member

    USA - Iowa
    English - USA
    I've always considered "times smaller" to be extremely bad English, for the reasons Egmont pointed out.

    I would recommend never saying "twice as small" and instead saying "half as big" or "half the size".

    Instead of saying "one and a half times smaller" the proper thing to say would be "two-thirds as big".
     
  10. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Ah, there is a difference between one timeø smaller and one times smaller.

    one timeø = one instance; unit of scale; one size; etc.
    one times = one multiplied by

    Unfortunately we cannot tell whether the times in 'five times' is "multiplied by five" or five instances removed from."

    However, as with so many examples of the numeral one, trivial results or mathematical anomalies occur, making 1 a poor example of anything mathematical (except 1 itself.)

    Were it "One times smaller" your example's corollary would mean that dividing anything by 1 would result in zero... and to create a negative integer, there would have to be a negative integer (or odd number of them) in the original calculation.
     
  11. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    Well, if "times" in this phrase means "multiplied by," why wouldn't "three times as small" as (for example) six be eighteen? The "as small" changes the multiplication to division?

    None of this makes any sense to me.
     
  12. Solle

    Solle Senior Member

    Moscow
    Russian
    This post was MUCH helpful! In fact I thought of saying "two-thirds the size", or "two-thirds as big", as "one and a half" is always confusing, but thought I should try to stick to the original. Now I realize there is a connotative confusion ('times' suggests something larger in English, unlike in Russian)
     

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