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As hours flew by, we kept building more and more sophisticated fireworks than I'd planned.

At best this is a garden path sentence. Without the "...than I'd planned" it gets completely ambiguous and with wrong primary meaning different than intended.

Most people will read that as increasingly sophisticated.

My intention is to say both greater number and higher sophistication.

Is there a consistent recipe for neat rephrasing of this kind of sentences not to come out with "more and more [adj]" interpreted as "increasingly [adj]" but instead separating that into count and comparative, when the adjective has no '-er' comparative form?

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When speaking this, if I wanted the (rather rare) meaning of more in number and more sophisticated, I would pause after the first more, so if writing it I would insert a comma after the first more.

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    I'm thinking Colin - in writing, to make that distinction, I feel you can do this: As the night wore on we kept building more - and more sophisticated! - fireworks. That's kind of a pattern you see, I think. "We kept making more money - and making it more easily!" "There were more - and more challenging - questions every day." Also forms like "We kept baking more - and bigger! - cakes, but we couldn't keep up with their appetite." The point is you're making an interruption to the sentence about the word 'more' itself. So IMO braces, hyphens or the like work well. – Fattie Oct 25 '13 at 9:17

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