1. relatively small

Hi,
Please compare the two sentences below.

(1) The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not a horse).
(2) The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not a mouse).

My bet is:
(1) works but (2) doesn't.
Do you agree?

Seiichi MYOGA

The intended meaning is that the creature I saw was the same size as a dog (but not a horse/mouse). Please tell us if it is better to put "and ( or but)" before "not" in (1) and (2).

2. Re: relatively small

Originally Posted by Seiichi MYOGA
Hi,
Please compare the two sentences below.

(1) The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not a horse).
(2) The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not a mouse).

My bet is:
(1) works but (2) doesn't.
Do you agree?

Seiichi MYOGA

The intended meaning is that the creature I saw was the same size as a dog (but not a horse/mouse). Please tell us if it is better to put "and ( or but)" before "not" in (1) and (2).
First, "no bigger than" doesn't mean "as big as". It means "as big as, or smaller than - but not bigger."
If the creature is no bigger than a dog, it follows that it's no bigger than a horse. In any case, "(not a horse)" or "(not a mouse)" doesn't make sense with that sentence.

If the creature is the same size as a dog, it's entirely unnecessary to list any other animals that it is the same size as (or indeed that it is not the size of) unless you need to say what size of dog it is the same size as (since the size of dogs varies widely).

3. Re: relatively small

Dear Raymott,

What do you think of (i)?

(i)
Recent evidence indicates that Homo erectus probably took no more than 100000 years, not the million yearspreviously thought, to reach Java from Africa. (T. W. Wallbank, Civilization Past and Present)

Seiichi MYOGA

What I want is something like (i).
The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not the size of a horse/*mouse I had expected it to be).

4. Re: relatively small

Originally Posted by Seiichi MYOGA
(i) Recent evidence indicates that Homo erectus probably took no more than 100,000 years, not the million years previously thought, to reach Java from Africa. (T. W. Wallbank, Civilization Past and Present).
That's fine.

5. Re: relatively small

Originally Posted by Seiichi MYOGA
...
...Seiichi MYOGA

What I want is something like (i).
The creature I saw was no bigger than a dog (not the size of a horse/*mouse I had expected it to be).

As Raymott explained the parenthesis makes little or no sense there. You could arrange the sentence like this:
The creature I saw was not the size of a horse (as I had expected it to be); it was no bigger than a dog.
b

6. Re: relatively small

Dear 5jj and BobK

The creature I saw was not the size of a horse (as I had expected it to be); it was no bigger than a dog.
This is something I have wanted. Thank you, BobK. In my observation, X in "no bigger than X" means not just something small (as in "as small as X") but something relatively small (small compared with something else). I wanted to have an example sentence that makes this idea clear to learners of English. Now I think you'd agree that (3) doesn't work.

(3)*The creature I saw was not the size of a dog (as I had expected it to be); it was no bigger than a horse.

Seiichi MYOGA
As for "no more than 100,000 years, not the million years previously thought," we can use "not" to introduce a contrast between "100,000 years" and "(one) million years." Why is it that the same doesn't hold true for "no bigger than"? That's a mystery.

7. Re: relatively small

You are right. Number 3 doesn't work at all!

8. Re: relatively small

Dear Barb_D,

Seiichi MYOGA

9. Re: relatively small

As for "no more than 100,000 years, not the million years previously thought," we can use "not" to introduce a contrast between "100,000 years" and "(one) million years." Why is it that the same doesn't hold true for "no bigger than"? That's a mystery.
If you change the word order of either sentence, you'll see that they have the same construction:

It was not the million years previous thought; it was no more than 100,000 years
The creature was not the size of a horse; it was no bigger than a dog.

It was no more than 100,000 years, not the million years previously thought.
It was no bigger than a dog, not the size of a horse.

10. Re: relatively small

Dear 5jj,

I like this one most because it best serves our purpose (in that it is easiest for learners to make sense of).
Originally Posted by 5jj
It was no bigger than a dog, not the size of a horse.
Now I think we have finally completed a triplet.
(i) a. The creature was no bigger than a dog/horse. (with there being no overt comparison)
b. The creature was no bigger than a dog, not the size of a horse. (with a comparison explicitly stated)
c.*The creature was no bigger than a horse, not the size of a dog. (with the wrong comparison resulting in unacceptability).

Now do you agree?

Seiichi MYOGA
I had thought the comma and parentheses could work the same way here. I don't know why something like "The creature was no bigger than a dog (not the size of a horse)" can't receive the same acceptance, but it might be better to leave it at that for now.

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