The man lost control and skidded off the road, crashing straight through the side of the police station. A police spokesman added: "He was unhurt, which is more than can be said for the car and the police station."

What does the phrase "more than can be said" mean? Were the car and the station badly damaged or not? Thanks.


X happened to Y, which is more than can be said for Z

This could be paraphrased as:

X happened to Y, but the opposite is true for Z

Here's an example from a discussion board:

You didn’t overdose on turkey, Christmas pudding, mince pies, brandy butter, Brussels sprouts or any of the other staples of a typical yuletide. Sadly, that’s more than can be said for the retailers, supermarkets, and chains.

This means that you didn't buy too much food – but the stores did. (The writer is alluding to how stores bought much more than they sold in the Christmas season, and now they have excess inventory to deal with.)

Another example, from a film review:

She penned something that gets people talking about her theme of unconditional love, which is more than can be said for many screenwriters.

This is saying that most screenwriters have a hard time getting people to talk about the theme of unconditional love, but she (the subject of the sentence) managed to pull it off.

Now, to the example you found:

He was unhurt, which is more than can be said for the car and the police station.

In other words, "He was unhurt, but the opposite is true for the car and the police station." I would interpret that to mean that the car and police station sustained a lot of damage.

It should be noted that this is a somewhat wry, informal expression; it makes the point by adding a touch of irony, surprise, or subtle humor.

  • Hello, thank you for your explanation, but I want to ask one more thing. I found these sentences in a forum: "Mr. Brown is a bad guy, which is more than can be said for Mr. Green, who is thoroughly wicked." "The politicians from the XXXXXXXX party are mildly corrupt. This is more than can be said for their opponents, who are thoroughly corrupt." In this case, I see that there is an increase in the level (from bad to worse). What I want to ask is, is this also a way to use this expression? (Because I can´t really see the relevance between your explanation and the function of these sentences). – Lans Tran Feb 26 '15 at 21:48
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    @LansTran - Yes, you have it figured out. In those new examples, "more than can be said for" means what you say. In those instances, there's even more humor intended, I think. It's like saying, "Mr Brown may be bad – but at least he's not wicked, like Mr Green!" – J.R. Feb 26 '15 at 23:15

You are exactly right. "More" in this case, is used in the sense of "better".

  • So the car and station were badly damaged right? – Lans Tran Feb 26 '15 at 20:56
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    Damaged, yes, but not badly damaged. If they were badly damaged, this would probably be directly mentioned. As, perhaps, "He was unhurt, but the car was totaled." – WhatRoughBeast Feb 27 '15 at 5:37

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