For example, if a guy tells another that "My hair is not much spikier than yours". Does it mean:

  1. Both their hairs are about the same spikiness
  2. The first guy's hair is little less spikier

I know the meaning of the sentence without adding the "much" but adding it kinda confuses me.

  • 1: X is better than Y unambiguously asserts that X is the best - perhaps "only just", but perhaps by a huge margin. 2: X is not better than Y simply denies that preceding assertion (perhaps Y is best, or perhaps they're equally good; we're not told). But idiomatically 3: X is not much better than Y isn't quite the same as #2, because it would never be used if Y was actually best. That last version is only used when X is definitely better - but not by much (they're both nearly as good as each other, but X is at least a little better than Y). Dec 27, 2020 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


"My hair is not much spikier than yours" concedes that my hair is spikier than yours, but claims it isn't much spikier.
That amounts to "My hair is only a little bit spikier than yours."

Preceding the word "much", the negation "not" applies to it. It doesn't apply to "spikier".


This sounds like a response to "Your hair is spiky"

A bit like "You're ugly" "Not much more ugly than you"

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