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1.Signing a form is little more than a formality.

I know the sentence can be changeable like the following below.

2.Signing a form is only a formality.

But can I change the first sentence into others like the followings below, and Is the meaning also all the same?(with number 3,4)

3.Signing a form isn’t much more than a formality.

4.Signing a form isn’t much more than signing a form is a formality.

Lastly, I want to know the part of speech of the word “more” in all sentences above.

5.Signing a form isn't any more than signing a form is a formality.

what difference exists from 1,2,3 and 4 sentences compared with 5 sentence?

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  • Repeating signing a form makes (4) and (5) nonsense. I would expect 'a formality' in the other versions. Oct 22, 2021 at 8:29

2 Answers 2

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The following two of your example sentences are equivalent:

1.Signing a form is little more than a formality. 3.Signing a form isn’t much more than a formality.

"Not much more than" and "little more than" do the same thing - they indicate that signing the form is more than just a formality, but only a bit - in other words, signing the form has some real meaning beyond being a formality, but this real meaning is quite minimal. On the other hand:

2.Signing a form is only a formality.

This means that signing the form is a formality and has no real meaning or further function.

Examples 4 and 5 are impossible to understand.

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  • @curthers thank you for the post. I know 4,5 are wrong because the ellipsis is obligatory in comparative. by the way, my question is what part of speech the word "more" is in each sentence.
    – bak1936
    Oct 23, 2021 at 4:43
  • @bak1936 We only answer one question at a time on this site. Asking two questions can get your question [closed] until you remove the second question. So, if you want to know the part of speech of "more", please ask that in a new question.
    – gotube
    Oct 24, 2021 at 4:22
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To supplement cruthers' fine answer:

Sentences 4 and 5 are impossible for anyone to understand.

The comparison is made with "isn't much more than". Here's the structure, with the two items being compared in bold:

  1. Signing a form isn’t much more than signing a form is a formality.

The first part of the comparison is a noun: the act of signing a form. The second part of the comparison is a clause: an statement about signing forms. You cannot compare an action to a statement.

Sentence 5 has the same issue.

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  • thank you for post. how do you know the second part of the comparison is the degree? in the sentence "signing form is little more than a formality", what does formality express in the sentence? is it a degree?
    – bak1936
    Oct 23, 2021 at 4:48
  • @bak1936 I've improved my answer about 4 and 5. Does that make it clearer?
    – gotube
    Oct 24, 2021 at 4:10

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