twice as less as

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Arthur Korablyov, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Arthur Korablyov Senior Member

    If it is possible to say 'He earns twice as much money as she (does)' can we use 'less' to make a sentence with an opposite meaning 'He earns twice as less money as she'?

    Are these sentences correct:

    I have twice as many cell phones as he has.

    I have twice as few cell phones as he

    Thank you in advance!
  2. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    There are two issues here.

    (1) 'Times' expressions of the kind 'twice as ... as', 'three times as ... as', 'a hundred times as ... as', etc. are not used with the comparative form of the adjective, but with the simple form.
    In other words, we do not say 'twice as more as', we say 'twice as much as'.
    Thus, 'twice as less as' is incorrect in the first place because it is ungrammatical.

    (2) It is incongruous (though not ungrammatical) to say 'twice as few as'. This is better put positively by saying 'half as many as'.
    This is preferable because it is clearer and more natural to use a positive expression of quantity ('many' rather than 'few').
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    I would have no idea what you meant if I heard this strange phrasing (at least to me).
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    It is not possible to say that and be understood; the sentence is meaningless. If you mean that he has, say, four such phones and you have two, then you need to say either:
    He has twice as many cell phones as I have.
    I have half as many cell phones as he has.
  5. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Although, I have a feeling that we do say: 'He earns ten times less than her'.
  6. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I'm sorry, but this sounds very strange to me. :eek: Perhaps that is because I speak American English. Or maybe it isn't.

    See the discussion in this thread: It operates at four times less pressure than the old ones.
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    I have not heard the expression "twice as less/few". I would say "half as much/many".

    I am familiar with the expression "three times less than ..." or "ten times less than ..", meaning 1/3 or 1/10, but I do not use it myself because of the potential for confusion.
    It's not common, but I hear it now and then, and it seems to have a long history. Google Books contains a number of examples, including this one from a book published in 1742:
    .03 is ten times less than .3
    A complete and compendious treatise of arithmetick, vulgar and decimal.
    By Thomas Clarke (accountant.)
  8. JSinAK New Member

    "Twice as less" is grammatically incorrect but commonly used and misinterpreted as meaning half as much. If twice as much is increasing the amount one direction, logically twice as less (if it were an actual phrase) should decrease it the same amount the other direction. It would actually be closer to meaning a 100% loss or zero. Here's a word problem I like to confuse people with..

    Problem 1...
    Today's temperature is 6 degrees. Tomorrow's temperature will be twice as warm as today. What will tomorrow's temperature be?

    Problem 2...
    Today's temperature is 6 degrees. Tomorrow's temperature will be twice as cold.
    What will tomorrow's temperature?

    Both problems are grammatically incorrect, but most people will interpret the solutions as 2x6=12, and -2x6=-12. If written correctly (100% increase, 100% decrease) the answers would be 12 and 0. People have gotten accustomed to speaking improperly. The phrase "twice as less" may need to be defined at some point. Even coming up with a mathematical solution for it may be needed. One way would be to multiply a number by the extra number of instances then add or subtract the product to/from the number...Twice more = a + (1×a), twice less = a - (1×a), 126 times less = a - (125xa). A better solution would be to speak proper English.
  9. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, JS. :)

    Not in my part of the US. I'd never heard of such a phrase before seeing it in this thread. Perhaps it's regional.
  10. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    I've never heard "twice as less" either.
  11. JSinAK New Member

    I've heard it used as "twice as less effective", "twice as less money", etc. After arguing it so many times as incorrect, I came up with that word problem to show mathematically why it is wrong. Maybe it's a Midwest colloquialism. We've been known for this (ex. Why? = How come?).

Share This Page