# Thread: the position of "no bigger than"

1. ## the position of "no bigger than"

Hi,

Please look at the two sentences below:
(1) Will it be no bigger than a jet plane or as big as a parasite?
(2) The star is probably of about one tenth of the sun's diameter – as small as Jupiter, and perhaps no bigger than Saturn.
(You might want to remember that the diameters of the sun, Jupiter and Saturn are, respectively about 1,400,000km, 140,000km and 120,000km.)

I think both (1) and (2) sound strange (because the position of "no bigger than" compared with "as big/small as" is wrong).
Do you agree that neither (1) nor (2) works?

Seiichi MYOGA

My question is based on this:
(i) Keep in mind what size and scale you'd like to make your creature. Will it be as big as a jet plane or no bigger than a parasite?
(C. Lukacs, Fantasy Genesis)
(ii) … these data indicate that the star is probably of about one tenth of the sun's diameter – no bigger than Jupiter, and perhaps as small as Saturn. (Scientific American Vol. 137)

2. ## Re: the position of "no bigger than"

(1) Will it be no bigger than a jet plane or as big as a parasite?
This does not work; the original was fine: Will it be as big as a jet plane or no bigger than a parasite?
(2) The star is probably of about one tenth of the sun's diameter – as small as Jupiter, and perhaps no bigger than Saturn.
Once again it does not work; once again, the original was fine: the star is probably of about one tenth of the sun's diameter – no bigger than Jupiter, and perhaps as small as Saturn.

3. ## Re: the position of "no bigger than"

Dear 5jj,

Seiichi MYOGA

Jespersen(1949:437) says, "Similarly no bigger than = ‘as small as’." And so here in Japan we learn that "no bigger than" just means "as small as." Thus, many learners (if not all) are confused about its real use.

4. ## Re: the position of "no bigger than"

Originally Posted by Seiichi MYOGA
Jespersen(1949:437) says, "Similarly no bigger than = ‘as small as’." And so here in Japan we learn that "no bigger than" just means "as small as." Thus, many learners (if not all) are confused about its real use.
So much depends on context. All of these are acceptable:

1. The star is probably one tenth the size of the sun - no bigger than Jupiter (and perhaps smaller).
2. The star is probably one tenth the size of the sun -as small as Jupiter (and perhaps smaller)
3. The star is probably one tenth the size of the sun - perhaps no bigger than Saturn (but perhaps bigger )
4. The star is probably one tenth the size of the sun - perhaps as small as Saturn (but perhaps bigger)

I think we are unlikely to say #2, because we generally think of Jupiter as the biggest planet in the solar system, and so it seems strange to say that something is as small as Jupiter, but it's possible. Both #3 and #4 are fine, because Saturn is both big (it's the second biggest planet) and smaller than Jupiter.

However, as Jupiter is bigger than Saturn, (or, if you prefer, Saturn is smaller than Jupiter), we can say #5, #6 and #7. but not #8:

5. The star is probably about one tenth the size of the sun - no bigger than Jupiter, and perhaps as small as Saturn.
6. The star is probably about one tenth the size of the sun - no bigger than Jupiter, and perhaps no bigger than Saturn.
7. The star is probably about one tenth the size of the sun - as small as Jupiter, and perhaps as small as Saturn.
8. The star is probably about one tenth the size of the sun – as small as Jupiter, and perhaps no bigger than Saturn.

#7 is unlikely but, like #2, possible. #8 is grammatically acceptable, but sounds extremely strange: as Jupiter is bigger than Saturn, we would not use, in a comparison, the words 'small' with Jupiter and '(no) bigger' with Saturn in the same sentence.

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