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    #1

    More subtle is ...

    Hi, there.
    I’m at a loss to understand the meaning of more subtle in the following sentence.
    (Sorry to bother you with this long example, but I can’t see which sentences are the needed context.)

    We walked into the forest. We hadn’t gone far and we’d already lost our way. I knew this would happen. She was wrong again, she always was, and this time I had proof, and I wouldn’t let her forget it, especially next time she pretended to be an expert.

    You can see how the final sentence, laden with commas while the others are not, stands out, feels jarring in context of the paragraph.
    This is an extreme example. More subtle is the comma-to-sentence ratio. Unless you have good reason, you don’t want your sentences to randomly jump from two commas to eight commas (assuming they are the same word length and their clauses are approximately the same length).

    -- Noah Lukeman, A Dash of Style

    1. What’s the exact meaning of ‘more subtle’ in this sentence?
    2. When I googled ‘example. more subtle is,’ I got some number of results. Is ‘more subtle is’ commonly used in exemplifying something?

    Thank you.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: More subtle is ...

    'More subtle is' - 'What is more subtle is'.

    Here 'subtle' means 'not obvious, difficult to notice'.

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    #3

    Re: More subtle is ...

    Thanks, Piscean. And what would you add if you have to add ‘than’ to the sentence?

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: More subtle is ...

    More subtle than this extreme example is ...

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    #5

    Re: More subtle is ...

    "Is ‘more subtle is’ commonly used in exemplifying something?"

    I'm not sure that you realize that "More subtle is X" simply means "X is more subtle".
    "More subtle than X is Y" = "Y is more subtle than X".
    But there's nothing special about the word "subtle".
    "I'm lazy. More industrious than me is my brother" = "My brother is more industrious than me."
    "More distant than Jupiter is Saturn" = "Saturn is more distant than Jupiter." "More distant still is Neptune."


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