The $400m he was saving each year by making no scrap and no off-quality tiles more than paid for the R&D and the process changes.

The sentence is from an article talking about a carpet company. I think a auxiliary verb (was) should be placed just before "more than" here, so is the sentence grammartical?

2 Answers 2


This is indeed an odd but very common verb structure in contemporary English. It is used when the speaker wants to say that an action surpassed a threshold of some kind. In register, it is conversational, not formal.

My dog chewed up my homework.
-- Looks like he more than chewed it up. He appears to have devoured it! Where is it?

That is, He did more than chew it up, he devoured it.

Notice that the tense is simple past without auxiliary in more than chewed. Rather than an omission of the auxiliary, this construction is an alternative to it.

Your work has more than met our expectations. It has surpassed them.

She more than won the race—she set a world record.

You more than passed the course you were failing early in the semester; you aced the final exam.

The construction appears also with other tenses.

With rising electricity costs, these solar panels will more than pay for themselves after ten years.

That is, they will have done more than pay for themselves after ten years; their initial acquisition cost will already have been offset by savings on your electricity bills, and thenceforward all of the savings on the energy bill will go directly into your pocket.

  • 1
    @Araucaria: I think you've misread. This NP: "The $400m he was saving each year by making no scrap and no off-quality tiles " is the subject of the verb more than paid That is, by making no scrap [tiles] and no off-quality tiles.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 19:24
  • Ah! Yes, you're completely right. I'd totally misread it. Thanks (sheepish grin ...) Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 19:27

The sentence is perfectly grammatical. "The Economist" is a high-quality publication with its own well-respected style guide and a strong editorial team. If you see something unusual in The Economist, assume that it's right and try to analyze it.

Now let's get to this phrase. You could say, for example,

I worked a temp job this summer, and the money that I earned there paid for a trip to California.

Here, in the article, $400 million paid for the R&D and the process changes, and a lot of money was left over (let's say these things only cost $250 million). Thus, this money more than paid for this and that stuff.

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