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When I found as much, if not more, than, I had an impression that than might be wrong at first because the phrase looked like a variation of as much as. However, there’re a lot of examples of both of them on the Net. Do they have different meanings?

  1. as much, if not more, than (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5) [US Version]: p501)

He was no longer their sullen host of the summer; now he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves as much, if not more, than they would have done at Hogwarts, and he worked tirelessly in the run-up to Christmas Day, cleaning and decorating with their help, so that by the time they all went to bed on Christmas Eve the house was barely recognizable.

  1. as much, if not more, as (From Google search)

The imports in 1877 amounted to as much, if not more, as in 1876, though I have not been able to procure the exact figures.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Both examples have odd syntax. Written in full, the first would be:

. . . he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves as much as they would have done at Hogwarts, if not more than they would have done at Hogwarts . . .

To express the same thing elliptically it is necessary to write:

. . . he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves as much as, if not more, than they would have done at Hogwarts . . .

Applying the same process to the second example, we get:

The imports in 1877 amounted to as much as those in 1876, if not more than those in 1876.

Elliptically:

The imports in 1877 amounted to as much as, if not more than, those in 1876

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3  
Exactly. The standard way of writing this is "as much as, if not more than". These citations are dropping one of the prepositions in a way prescriptive grammarians would disapprove of. All of these phrases mean the same thing. And judging from Google books, they are all three used roughly equally often. –  Peter Shor Nov 9 '11 at 11:35
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Anecdotally, I find as much if not more than to be "normal"-sounding (...enjoy themselves as much, if not more, than they would have done... reads fine to me and I don't notice that as much as has lost a preposition), whereas as much if not more as is nearly unparseable for me on first read. I guess I'm looking for a than or I have trouble with the sequential more as. –  aedia λ Nov 10 '11 at 3:47
    
@Barrie England Thanks for your kind explanation. That was easy to understand. –  user7493 Nov 11 '11 at 2:03
    
@Peter Shor Your comment put the finishing touch to my understanding. Great. Thanks a lot. –  user7493 Nov 11 '11 at 2:03
    
@aedia λ Extremely interesting. (I guess I’m reading English like a machine. It’s a long and winding road for me to read English smoothly.) –  user7493 Nov 11 '11 at 2:04

The mathematical equivalent of this expression is "greater than or equal to"; technically it means the same as "at least as much as":

he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves as much, if not more, than they would have done at Hogwarts

could be rewritten as

he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves at least as much as they would have done at Hogwarts

Literally the expression is a shorthand way of saying "if they do not enjoy them selves more than they would have done at Hogwarts, they should enjoy themselves as much as they would have done at Hogwarts".

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The two relevant phrases are as much as and more than. Grammatically, as much than and more as are nonsensical; thus, any sentence that attributes than or as to both phrases is mistaken.

Correct usage:

X is as much as Y.

X is more than Y.

X is as much as, if not more than, Y.

Incorrect usage:

X is as much than Y.

X is more as Y.

X is as much, if not more, than Y.

X is as much, if not more, as Y.

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