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This politician greatly entertained us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

This politician badly entertained us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

This politician didn't entertain us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

I am thinking the third is wrong, but the first and two sound ungrammatical as well. The use of the second verb complement "more by his ... than his ..." seems to muddy the meaning in both the first and second sentences, but I am not sure we can say it's wrong, because semantically they're not quite wrong. What should I make of it?

  • badly entertained does not work, at least for me. – Lambie Mar 19 at 16:37
  • poorly entertained? – tefisjb Mar 19 at 16:53
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It seems like you have the correct construction for the "more ... than" expression.

Your first example:

This politician greatly entertained us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

sounds like a fine sentence.

The second sentence, however:

This politician badly entertained us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

sounds a little "off" because of the expression "badly entertained". Grammatically, I guess it's OK, but it isn't clear what it really means. Did his attempt to entertain us fail badly? Or was he very entertaining by using bad (socially unacceptable?) jokes? "Badly entertained" causes this sentence not to work.

Saying, "This politician was slightly [or mildly] entertaining, but more because of his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor." would be better

Regarding your last example:

This politician didn't entertain us more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor.

The use of the phrase, "more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor", doesn't really work in this sentence. At the beginning, you said the politician was not entertaining. So it doesn't make sense to follow with an explanation of the manner in which he was entertaining.

  • Note: I was wondering what you were talking about with the last example—until I realized that the question had been edited to invalidate that part of your answer. I would add a note to your answer to indicate that the question was changed—or edit your answer to not mention doesn't entertained. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Mar 20 at 17:42
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The first is grammatical but I would include a comma: "This politician greatly entertained us, [but] more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor." The construction with "more by X than Y" is maybe not quite the same as the "more Xs than Y" when I am saying "I ate more tacos than Trevor," or "My dog Barkley has always had more bark than bite," but it's intelligible to a fluent speaker. The word "greatly" could be replaced, too, with some other adverbs like "swiftly" or "ironically" (in which case I would actually probably omit the comma, as you are no longer introducing a sentence which "leads one way" and then finishing it "the other way").

The second and third are ungrammatical, but they are ungrammatical even if you omit the "more ... than" construction. "This politician badly entertained us" doesn't sound right, and "This politician doesn't entertained us" is wrong because the latter verb no longer should carry the tense, since the main verb has become "to do", so you meant "this politician didn't entertain us." I'm not 100% sure what's wrong with the adverb "badly" here, perhaps just that it's just being applied to the wrong class of verbs—you could say "This politician badly hurt us" and that would sound more grammatical. Something like "poorly entertained us" sounds fine as well.

You would be right that the grammar-corrected "This politician didn't entertain us, more by his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor" doesn't sound right, but I think what's happening there is that the word by stops being the right preposition. Like if I say out loud "This politician didn't entertain us by his lack of intelligence"–that doesn't sound right and I would want to replace, say, "by" with "due to". Making that correction in both, then "This politician didn't entertain us, more due to his lack of intelligence than his sense of humor," suddenly sounds grammatical again even though that latter clause has kind of become nonsense in the face of the word "didn't".

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Common sense tells me that the politician managed to entertain you. You laughed at his stupidity rather than at his jokes. The first sentence looks fine and I suppose it's the only correct option here.

Neither "badly entertained us more" nor "didn't entertain us more" sounds right to me.

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