## PEDANTRY - 1: AS MANY NOT MORE

So often these days, a broadcasters will say, for example:

- Such and such was
**10 times bigger**, - The thingamabob is
**5 times higher**, or - The whatchamacallit will be
**3 times more.**

My problem is that **‘MORE’ **and** ‘TIMES’ **have different and distinct meanings. Putting them together in this context is confusing, not logical, and for me, downright bloody irritating.

**BIGGER**, **HIGHER** and **MORE** each indicate a difference between two, measured values.

**TIMES **indicates a multiple (or a fraction or ratio) **NOT** a difference.

If it is appropriate to describe something as **bigger, higher, wider **or** greater** than something else, then that is a description of the difference between two values indicated by some measure**. **In arithmetic that's a minus sign. **Times **indicates a multiple which as an arithmetical operator is a multiplication sign (or if the difference is expressed as a fraction or ratio, then a division sign). So any statement of comparison of size which includes the phrase **times more** is inherently unclear and defies logic. Is **3 times more **a difference of 3 or a multiple of 3?

A few years ago I was working through a Bond Maths book with one of my daughters. One of the questions read:

What is 3 **times more** than 4?

3 **times** 4? Easy. 3 **more than** 4? Also easy.

But 3 **times more than** 4. You tell me.

I wrote to the publishers. No reply!

*(I would love to say that I wrote 3 times more, just have a little fun with the english and the logic, but I didn’t, so I can't.)*

One of my daughter’s maths teachers, a few years ago, set a homework question which read: **‘How many times is 12 bigger than 4?’** I sarcastically suggested that my daughter should write 2 as her answer on the grounds that 12 was bigger than 4 each time we looked at it , and we looked at it twice.

So please don’t say X **TIMES** **MORE, **say X **MORE** or X **TIMES** **AS MANY** depending on what you mean**. **

Actually I should have written: X **MORE** or Y **TIMES AS MANY, **because generally **’MORE****' **and** ‘TIMES AS MANY****'** have different values. If Janet has 6 apples and John has 2, then Janet has **4 ****more** apples than John, but **3 times** **as many. **There is an exception. If Janet had had 4 apples and John had had 2, then both ‘**more'** and '**times as many'** would be 2. The exception proves the rule. (It doesn’t, of course, that would be ridiculous.)

What this is about is clear thinking and accurate, unambiguous communication. **Times more **is a messy conflation of two terms with different meanings. I beg you, in this context, never to write it or say it. You could argue, I know, I know. Why the fuss? Language is constantly changing, but logic isn’t.

By the way, that example from the Bond Maths book that I quoted, written as an arithmetic question, would be: 3x+4=?

Thank you for reading this far.

David

The number or people who go to football matches is 3 times the number who go to the theatre in the UK. I've made up that statistic that for the purposes of my argument.

So I would write:

**3 times as many**… Others would write: **3 times more...**

If the numbers were twice as many (I’m going to write twice as 2 times to help the flow of the argument) So I would write:

**2 times as many**… Others would write: **2**** times more...**

If the numbers were equal then following the sequence logically I could write (though I wouldn’t)

**1 times as many**… Others might write: **1**** times more...**

Actually I don’t believe that anybody would write **‘1 times’ **so it can be removed.

So removing 1 times my sentence would read:

~~1 times~~ **As many people go to football matches as go to the theatre in the UK**

Removing 1 times from what others might write we get:

~~1 times~~ **More people go to football matches as go to the theatre in the UK**

And there is the problem: My sentence is still correct. The others’ sentence is incorrect and vague.

REDUCTIO AD ABSURDAM - QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.E.D.?iframe=true&width=300&height=300