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If I say something like

He is big compared to the other guy.

He is relatively big compared to the other guy.

is the adverb relatively wrong because of redundancy?

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First of all, relatively is an adverb, not an adjective. Secondly, "wrong because of redundancy" does not make sense. Redundant does not mean "wrong". Redundant only means "redundant". –  RegDwigнt May 10 '12 at 10:38
    
@RegDwightΒВBẞ8: true, +1. –  NikolajK May 10 '12 at 11:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"He is relatively big compared to the other guy." -- This is not necessarily wrong, but is awkward, and yes, redundant.

'compared to' conveys the same meaning.

You could even say "He is bigger than the other guy" to mean the same thing, 'bigger' being the comparative.

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It is unnecessary. Relatively implies comparison, and that is already explicit in the verb.

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Okay, so is it even wrong? –  NikolajK May 10 '12 at 8:18
    
@NickKidman: It's wrong it it doesn't do what the speaker or writer wants it to do. –  Barrie England May 10 '12 at 9:59

The "relatively" changes the meaning of the sentence slightly and is therefore not redundant.

"He is relatively big compared to the other guy". Implies that he is probably not normally considered big. As in "Grumpy is relatively big compared with Dopey".

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I'd likely use "big relative to the other guy", or "a little bigger than", depending on what you're trying to convey.

It seems to me that "relatively big compared to" is trying to use the word relatively to mean "slightly", or "not by much". When you get rid of it, you have "big compared to", which can mean that he's thousands of times larger, or only a little larger.

Depending on context, it could also be a double comparison. The door is 8 feet tall. Guy-A is 8.5 feet tall. Guy-B is 6 feet tall. Therefore, while it is obvious that Guy-A is bigger than Guy-B, what may not be obvious is that Guy-A is big relative to the door, as compared to Guy-B, who is small relative to the door. So, with regard to the door, "Guy-A is relatively big compared to Guy-B."

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