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Suppose I'll be seeing the doctor again after the first appointment and I have noticed one thing: today, I drank water three more times than before, but I believe this sentence is ambiguous in that it can mean two things:

  • I drank water triple times the water I drank before
  • I drank water 3 times more than before

  1. The first one means that the total amount of the water got tripled, that is, if I drank 5 glasses a day before, I now drink 15 glasses (3 x 5)

  2. The second one means that three glasses were added to the total amount of glasses i.e. if I drank 5 glasses, I now drink 8 glasses.

Am I right in interpreting the sentence in the above two ways? What does my original sentence imply? If I want to mean the second option (no. 2), what could I say to the doctor?

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    We don't say "I drank water three more times than before" to mean we tripled how much water we drank. We would say "I drank three times more water than before". – ColleenV Apr 9 at 14:29
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To amplify what ColleenV said in a comment:

When times means "occasions", it behaves like any other noun, and quantifiers precede it: three times, many times, more times, three more times.

When times is used as a multiplier, it is not a noun and has a different grammar: three times as much, three times more.

So your sentence cannot have the first meaning.

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I drank water three more times than before, reworded in clearer language is:

  • I've been drinking three times more water than before. [amount]

  • I've been drinking a larger amount of water every time I drink water than [I was drinking] before.

Two meanings.

Another could be expressed as:

  • I've been drinking water three times a day, which is more than before.

If you go the doctor and talk about how much you drink water, the point is how much you you have been drinking and not how much water you drank on a particular occasion. A doctor would be interested in knowing your habits, not a particular time you drank water.

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I drank water three more times than before.

Your example sounds unusual.

Using your calculation example, to say in a way that means you have consumed 15 glasses today, you could say

I drank three times more water than before.

For 8 glasses, you could say

I drank water on three more occasions than before.

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No, it is not ambiguous. It refers the number of times you drank water, not the total amount. Your #2 is correct.

If you wanted to talk about the total amount, you would say:

I drank three times as much water

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  • See my edit that incorporates @ColleenV 's comment – Kevin Apr 9 at 14:38
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    I don't think OP's first highlighted example is remotely ambiguous. It can only refer to the number of times the speaker has drunk water (the actual quantify being completely irrelevant). – FumbleFingers Apr 9 at 16:48
  • @FumbleFingers You're write. I got so hung up on my pet peeve of "times more" that I misinterpreted the rest of sentence. – Kevin Apr 9 at 16:54

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