# A question on a sentential structure

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#### driftwood

##### Junior Member
Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [I]more than tripled[/I]``
I have hard time explaining this sentence structure to my students.

I know it has the present perfect form of 'triple'.
The difficulty lies in 'more than'. If it is simply 'more', it is a sort of adverb.

Having thought about it for a while, I've come up with this explanation.

Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [U]increased[/U] [I]more than (it has) tripled[/I].``
So, the sentence in question is a sort of ellipse with the verb, increased, omitted for the sake of brevity without affecting the meaning it tries to convey.

Would you agree with me? If not, can you share your idea?

Thank you,
Rod

#### Tdol

##### No Longer With Us (RIP)
Staff member
To me, if it has increased more than it has tripled, the increase would be much bigger as it implies two increases - 3x and one bigger than 3x. You could say 'has increased by more than three times' instead.

#### indonesia

##### Member
The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has more than tripled

I know it doesn't help too much, but you could re-write the sentence like this;

The annual CO2 emission rate is more than triple what it was in 1995.

#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [I]more than tripled[/I]``
I have hard time explaining this sentence structure to my students.

I know it has the present perfect form of 'triple'.
The difficulty lies in 'more than'. If it is simply 'more', it is a sort of adverb.

Having thought about it for a while, I've come up with this explanation.

Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [U]increased[/U] [I]more than (it has) tripled[/I].``
So, the sentence in question is a sort of ellipse with the verb, increased, omitted for the sake of brevity without affecting the meaning it tries to convey.

Would you agree with me? If not, can you share your idea?

Thank you,
Rod

The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has more than tripled.

You probably accept this:
The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has tripled. = SV

What shall we do with that tiny 'more than'? I regard it as an idiomatic and optional (not needed for the grammaticality of the sentence) adverb.

#### philo2009

##### Senior Member
Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [I]more than tripled[/I]``
I have hard time explaining this sentence structure to my students.

I know it has the present perfect form of 'triple'.
The difficulty lies in 'more than'. If it is simply 'more', it is a sort of adverb.

Having thought about it for a while, I've come up with this explanation.

Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [U]increased[/U] [I]more than (it has) tripled[/I].``
So, the sentence in question is a sort of ellipse with the verb, increased, omitted for the sake of brevity without affecting the meaning it tries to convey.

Would you agree with me? If not, can you share your idea?

Thank you,
Rod

'More than' functions here as a phrasal adverb (modifying the subsequent participle), being structurally analogous to a phrasal preposition such as 'as to' or a phrasal conjunction such as 'in that', and, like these, cannot meaningfully be analysed in terms of its constituent words.

Cf. the same two-word sequence in e.g.

He has more than I do.

which can be analysed in the standard way as [pronoun + conjunction].

#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
'More than' functions here as a phrasal adverb (modifying the subsequent participle), being structurally analogous to a phrasal preposition such as 'as to' or a phrasal conjunction such as 'in that', and, like these, cannot meaningfully be analysed in terms of its constituent words.

Cf. the same two-word sequence in e.g.

He has more than I do.

which can be analysed in the standard way as [pronoun + conjunction].

Agreed. Phrasal adverb. Yes, I like this name. I think we are basically saying the same thing, Philo.

#### philo2009

##### Senior Member
Agreed. Phrasal adverb. Yes, I like this name. I think we are basically saying the same thing, Philo.

Then you must be right...

#### driftwood

##### Junior Member
Thank you all for your help.

I know the structure in question (more than) is an idiomatic expression, but I tried to figure out how it all got started, ie, its etymology.

Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has [U]done[/U] [I]more than (it has) tripled[/I].``
I know none of you were willing to insert another verb, increased, I can understand that. I was not happy with it myself. I had come up first with 'has done' but did not go with it because we usually use 'do' after an actual verb is used in order to avoid repetition of the same word.

But now without any other plausible explanations, I will go back to it.
I suppose or hope that some day some reputable dictionaries will list 'more than double', more than triple', etc. as phrasal verbs.

Rod

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#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
I have hard time explaining this sentence structure to my students.

I know the structure in question (more than) is an idiomatic expression, but I tried to figure out how it all got started, ie, its etymology.

If you meant the same thing with these sentences, you did not apply the English language correctly because they do not mean the same thing.

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#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has more than tripled.

Do you know why more than is an adverb?

See its mobility relative to the VP:

The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has more than tripled.
The annual carbon dioxide emission rate more than tripled.

#### driftwood

##### Junior Member
I don't want to dwell on this thing too long, but I have to say one more thing just to clarify my rationale behind my idea.

I had considered the following two sentence structures which are easier to analyze.

Code:
``````1. She is more than beautiful.
2. He is more than a politician.``````
In 1. 'more' is an adjective and compared with another adjective, beautiful.
'More' in 2. is a noun, which is compared with another noun, a politician.

So, an act performed by one verb has to be compared with another act done by another verb. That is why I want to put a verb before 'than' for the purpose of comparison.
Code:
``The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has (        ) more than tripled.``
That is why I need a verb in the parenthesis.
Rod

#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
We discussed a similar issue with Frank two weeks ago:

https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/...-sentences/112989-diagramming-longfellow.html

1. She is more than beautiful.
2. He is more than a politician.

In #1, 'She' (and not more) is compared to 'beautiful'. The degree of her beauty is higher than the standard of most people's beautiful. On the two sides of the scales we have an adjective (beautiful) and a (pro)noun (She). The word 'than' is the pivot around which the metaphoric scale represented by the comparative structure can rotate. 'more' is the weight that tips the balance in favor of 'She'.

2. Same story. The participants are 'He' and 'a(n average) politician': two nouns being compared from the point of view of inherent values, I guess.

--------------
The annual carbon dioxide emission rate has ( ) more than tripled.

On one side of 'than' is 'tripled'. What is on the other side? 'The annual emission rate'. That is what. They are being compared: a noun and a verb. The verb denotes a standard rate whose etalon is adjusted to the rate of a previous year's or period's emission. This rate the verb (tripled) denotes and its understood etalon is compared to this year's or recent years' carbon dioxide emission.

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#### philo2009

##### Senior Member
Regarding the grammatical analysis, I have already commented.

Regarding the origin of the construction, I can only speculate but would imagine that it must have come about by a kind of (essentially mistaken) analogy with structures in which 'than' governs a subsequent noun phrase with prepositional force, e.g.

He has more than mere luck; he has talent.

The insertion of a verbal element then became acceptable in place of the more syntactically rational substantive, and thus the phrase effectively became a kind of indivisible adverbial.

Probably on account of its somewhat 'unorthodox' ontogenesis, some users will tend to prefer alternative expressions such as

Carbon dioxide emissions have increased by more than 200%.

#### Frank Antonson

##### Senior Member
That is quite a discussion to follow!

I still return to the idea that it is a phrasal adverb in the original sentence. It is comparable to "It sort of tripled", "It half tripled", "It super tripled", "It tripled 'in spades'", "It double tripled" (!) etc.

It is not comparable to "He is more than (he is) a politician" In that sentence "more" is an indefinite pronoun like "other".

As to the origin of the "expression" I tried to use my "compact" OED but it was too tedious.

#### Frank Antonson

##### Senior Member
I am lost in the forum.

Could you, Kondorosi, or someone else tell me it you have read this?

#### Kondorosi

##### Senior Member
Hello Frank! Yeah, I have. Thanks for your input. :up:

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