Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 11 to 12 of 12
  1. #11
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,758
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Use of phrase " times less than"

    Quote Originally Posted by EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead View Post
    I get upset when I hear or read the media regularly using poorly constructed sentences ( especially when the meaning may be ambiguous ) which then seem to become the norm very quickly with young native English speakers.
    Don't we all! (OK, most of us).

  2. #12
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Use of phrase " times less than"

    Quote Originally Posted by EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead View Post
    I have noticed the increasing use of what I consider to be incorrect comparison within the english media and would value another opinion regarding this. An example taken from the BBC today follows:
    "the UCI said the concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms - 400 times less than anti-doping laboratories"

    Could someone please tell me what this statement means and also what the writer may think that it means.

    This seems to be used very often and I am not sure if it is deemed to be correct and I am out of date or if it is just poor use of the language.
    Yes, you are out of date - but so am I.

    I assume that the speaker means that the anti-doping laboratories' concentration was estimated at 400 x 50 = 20,000, but one cannot be certain. S/he might meaning that the reduction was 20,000, so the anti-doping laboratories' concentration was 20,040. Such expressions lack clarity.

    I have seen similar confusion with: We had 50 enquiries today, 100% less than yesterday. I assume that the speaker meant that there were 100 enquiries yesterday, though that would seem to me to be 50% less (or fewer!).

    In my own speaking and writing I try to avoid using such expressions unless I can be absolutely clear, as in: The January sales of 120m were 20% up on the December figures of 100m, the biggest percentage increase for eleven months.

    Note that in my example I put in the actual figures for January and the word percentage. It may well be that last July's figure's were 500m and August's were 550m. This is a a bigger increas (50m as against 20m), but a smaller percentage (10% as against 20%).

    My only suggestion is to take verbal descriptions of figures using percentages or such expressions as times, more than, less than, etc with a large pinch of salt. If you can, ask the writer/reader to give you the actual figure.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] "Three times as many" versus "Triple"
    By metallicfacez in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Nov-2009, 19:08
  2. [Idiom] "Hard hats must be worn at all times"
    By Unregistered in forum Frequently Asked Questions
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Apr-2009, 13:31
  3. "Most of the time" versus "most of the times"
    By Anita B-S in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-Feb-2009, 22:26
  4. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 23-Sep-2006, 04:28
  5. Please - what word describes "Three Times Per Year"
    By ranieri71 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 29-Jul-2005, 23:44

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •