English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am trying to describe how cities have been affected by the growing population in terms of the density of bodies.

This is how I have it at the moment but I am unsure whether it should be "more dense", or "denser"

With the global human population increasing and areas becoming more dense


With the global human population increasing and areas becoming denser

Which would be correct?

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Both of your constructions have problems. Strictly construed, you are writing about the density of "areas," while you are clearly thinking about population density, not area density. Moreover, it would be impossible for population density not to increase in the face of increasing global population. Perhaps this will work better for you: Along with the increase in global population, certain areas are showing a disproportionate increase in population density.

share|improve this answer
I wonder why someone downvoted this. It's absolute correct: areas are not becoming denser, populations are. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 30 '13 at 14:09
And now I down voted because that's not what the question is about. Writing advice and proof-reading are off topic on ELU. The first sentence, which summarizes, makes this a comment/ opinion piece. – Kris Dec 1 '13 at 5:48

We usually talk about a population's density 1, not a city's density.

To use the comparative form, I'd say that A has a higher (population) density than B.

Japan, with the highest population density, is worst afflicted

In areas with high population densities (c. 100 people km-2) intensive dryland agriculture is becoming increasingly important

The opposite of high (population) is "low"

from the 1981 census data, and it shows the low population density and the extent of areas that are effectively uninhabited...

You can talk about a city having a dense population, in which case the comparative form is denser, and its superlative form, densest.

Whereas the comparative form, more dense,2 is used when comparing the density of two different substances, materials or liquids.

Water that is salty is more dense than water that is fresh.

Note: All the quoted texts come from the website J.T.W (Just The Word) which makes use of the British National Corpus.

share|improve this answer

In this context denser would be more apt.

In terms of the suffix -er it is like a substitute for more.

So more dense = denser


more smooth = smoother

In the respect of "population density", this is a subject that is studied in it's own right, that means something when put together; you are examining density, as an attribute of population, as opposed to making a more generalised comparison between two things an example of smooth skin, it is a generalised comparison and not a recognisable term, as skin smoothness.

share|improve this answer
I am sure more dense is the right choice in this case. However, I will post an answer in due course. (I am scanning thru missed posts for now.) – Kris Dec 1 '13 at 5:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.