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Why doesn't this sentence say "more dangerous"? Why use the "more of + noun" construction?" I'm confused here. Do "More + adjective" and "More of + noun" have the same meaning? Could you give other examples in the structure "More of + noun?" I usually just say "more + adjective".

He attacked with such pace and I believe he was more of a danger than Pele at the time - he was a phenomenon, capable of sheer magic

Could = softener, more of a suggestion.

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  • Does this page answer your question? thoughtco.com/…). Note that we don't use "more of + noun", only "more of + determiner + noun".
    – JavaLatte
    Dec 1, 2023 at 10:46
  • @JavaLatte How do you phrase "more of + noun? Does it have the same meaning as "more + adjective?"
    – Nyambek
    Dec 1, 2023 at 10:53
  • It depends entirely on the specific noun (which may either not even have a corresponding derived, or that adjective might carry different semantic connotations and / or syntactic affordances). Consider We never intended my wife to get pregnant last year, so baby Jane was more of a mistake than a planned addition to the family. In which context ...baby Jane was more mistaken... would be nonsense. Dec 1, 2023 at 12:05
  • Personally, I think there's a tendency for a danger in such contexts to refer to a potential risk that you need to deal with / neutralize, as opposed to something dangerous that you need to run away from / avoid. But that's just me. Dec 1, 2023 at 12:13
  • @FumbleFingers So the word "of" means "like" in this context, doesn't it? "More of a danger" means "more like a danger". "More of a suggestion" means "more like a suggestion. Is my interpretation right?
    – Nyambek
    Dec 1, 2023 at 12:29

2 Answers 2

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The expressions more NP and more of NP have various paraphrases depending on context, but their meanings are generally similar.

In your first example, “he was more of a danger than Pele at the time,” the phrase more of a danger means a greater danger.

Consider a different example, one inspired by the aphorism that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” which means that the weather early in that month is typically harsh but by four weeks later becomes much milder. If one year there were a blizzard on the 24th, one might remark, “Today is more lion than lamb,” which refers implicitly to the aphorism and points out the day’s not conforming with the pattern the aphorism expresses.

In During the emergency, the Governor’s wife was more of a leader than he, the meaning is that she acted more like a leader, or showed more leadership than he.

If a television critic said, “The show’s cancellation is more mercy killing than murder,” it would mean that the series was—perhaps had become—so bad that ceasing its production was almost a favor, and certainly was nothing to object to.

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  • What is confusing me is the word "of" here. What does it mean? Does it mean "more like"? "More of a danger" = more like danger.
    – Nyambek
    Dec 1, 2023 at 12:35
  • As always, much depends on context. In some contexts, like your Pete example, more of a danger can be paraphrased perfectly by a greater danger. In that example, it is quite different from more like a danger. Dec 1, 2023 at 12:45
  • That makes sense. What about the sentence Messy is more of a striker than a midfilder. Would you paraphrase more of a striker as a greater striker?
    – Nyambek
    Dec 1, 2023 at 13:51
  • It means that Messy more nearly constitutes the ideal striker than he does the ideal midfielder. Dec 1, 2023 at 14:30
  • In this context, does "more of" mean "more about?" It's more of a guess than an estimate.
    – Nyambek
    Dec 2, 2023 at 5:06
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more + adjective means more of the quality defined by the adjective

John is more reliable than most taxi drivers

more + noun means a larger number or quantity:

I have more books than he has
I need more cheese

more of a + noun means more of the qualities that define the noun

Soon after that, a woman, small, slender and almond faced, more of a pixie than a person, sat down next to the union boss. Heroes of the New Eden, Charles Morgan, 2012

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