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What is the difference, if any, between these sentences?

"African-Americans are greater in number."

"African-Americans are greater in numbers."

I want to say that there are more African-American people

  • Either sentence is grammatical, given the proper context. – Alan Carmack Nov 8 '16 at 0:46
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"African-Americans are greater in number" is the correct form for the expression.

'In number' here specifies the aspect in which the African-American people are greater than other kind of people in. Works the same way as 'in size' in "Pigs are greater in size than chickens". Consider now "Pigs are greater in sizes than chickens". Here, the mistake becomes evident.

'In numbers' can sound correct to some because there is a common phrase in American English, 'by the numbers' and 'by numbers' which, according to the Oxford Dictionary, mean "following simple instructions identified or as if identified by numbers", but isn't.

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  • I want to say that there are more African-American people. Does it work with these sentences? – user43085 Oct 12 '16 at 16:07
  • As I said previously, the correct expression for saying that is "African-Americans are greater in number". That's the expression to be used. "African-Americans are greater in numbers" is incorrect and should't be used. – matias Oct 12 '16 at 16:11
  • Okay but you have not answered my second question. – user43085 Oct 12 '16 at 16:41
  • I'm sorry but I don't understand what you mean. There is no difference between these phrases because the second one is incorrect, thus doesn't mean anything at all. It is not to be used, so it doesn't 'work' with the second one. "African-Americans are greater in number" is the correct form for the expression. This is the one you should use. Hope I answered your question. – matias Oct 12 '16 at 16:51
  • @user43085 - If you want more clarification, you should edit your question and go into much more detail about what you are asking about. I don't even see one question in your question, much less two. More helpful information can be found at our Details, Please meta post. – J.R. Oct 12 '16 at 18:36

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