# Comparative sentences and phrases

1. I made up the sentence "The horse is one and a half times my height".

Does it mean that the horse's height or length is 1.5 times my height?

1. "I am more than two times smaller than the ostrich."

Does it mean that I am bigger than half the ostrich or I am X times (X>2) smaller than the ostrich? Following logic, I think the latter is correct.

1. Are these correct and do they mean the same?

A) I run twice slower than the ostrich.

B) My speed is half that of the ostrich.

C) My speed is 0.5 times that of the ostrich.

D) I am 0.5 times the speed of the ostrich.

E) I run twice as slow as the ostrich.

1. Are these correct?

A) The horse runs more than 3 times faster than me.

B) The horse weighs more than 5 times my weight.

C) The horse runs more than 3 times as fast as me.

D) The horse weighs more than 5 times more than me.

E) The horse weighs more than 5 times as much as me.

F) The speed of the horse is (more or higher, please, let me know) than 3 times my speed.

• (1) The height of a horse is measured from its shoulders. Yes, it means it is 1.5 times your height (unlikely, unless you are unusually small). (2) We would say 'half as big' rather than 'twice as small' or, as you put it, 'two times smaller'. – Kate Bunting Nov 6 '20 at 14:48

In a comparison, we are comparing things of like kind unless it is explicitly said that we are comparing things of unlike kind.

[The height of] the ostrich is two times the boy’s height

The ostrich is two times the boy’s height

The ostrich’s height is two times the boy’s [height].

The ostrich’s height is two times the boy’s.

all mean the same thing. The second is an ellipsis of the first, and the fourth is an ellipsis of the third. The first and third differ only in the form of possessive used.

If you are comparing things of unlike kind, ellipsis is not permitted.

The length of an American football field is more than fifty times the height of the average American male.

I am more than two times smaller than a giraffe

is simply not idiomatic so I have no clue how it would be interpreted.

Depending on what we mean, we either would say

The giraffe is more than twice as tall as me

meaning x > 2y, or we would say something like

The giraffe is taller than me but not twice as tell

meaning y < x < 2y.

What requires a compound statement in the artificial language of mathematics will require a compound statement in a natural language like English.

With respect to #3, B and C are idiomatic and have the same meaning. In non-scientific discourse, however, whole numbers are used more than fractions, which are used more than decimals.

With respect to #4, all seem grammatical, but C and E sound more natural to me, and they are a trifle verbose. A bit more concise is

The horse’s speed is more than three times mine.

• In "The horse's speed", does "the" applies to "horse" or "speed"? Does "The crocodile's tooth" means "the tooth of the crocodile" (A) or "the tooth of a crocodile" (B) or "a tooth of the crocodile" (C)? Thank you. – Vova Nov 7 '20 at 8:56
• This really should be asked as its own question because comments have severe restrictions on length and formatting. “The horse’s speed” can have somewhat different meanings depending on context. In the context of your examples, it means “the fastest speed possible for that horse.” Meaning is seldom divorced from context. – Jeff Morrow Nov 7 '20 at 14:38