Something doesn't feel 100% correct in the structure of the following statement:

The longer you stay here, the higher the chances are that you'll never get there on time.

My question is, what should I do with the "are"?

  1. Leave it right where it is.
  2. Put it after the "higher".
  3. Put it after the "time".
  4. Get rid of it altogether.


  • 4 is the best, but ideally delete the "that" as well. 1 is ok. 2 is ok. 3 is horrible. That would be my immediate reaction. – almagest Sep 16 '14 at 19:18
  • So that it becomes: The longer you stay here, the higher the chances you'll never get there on time. Good English often misses out words that are implied by the context. The goal is to be as clear as possible and as concise as possible. – almagest Sep 16 '14 at 19:20
  • You might be interested in the topic of correlative comparative construction. E.g. "The more sanctions bite, the more the violence becomes". – F.E. Sep 16 '14 at 19:51
  • 1
    "The longer you stay here, the greater the chance that you won't get there on time." There is a strange juxtaposition between a singular sounding phrase in the first part and a plural in the last. While I usually don't care, I think it sounds better if you change chances to chance and drop the are and never. – anongoodnurse Sep 16 '14 at 22:58

Both 2 and 3 are a little awkward, but 1 and 4 both sound good. Personally I prefer it how you have it now (1).

You could also try:

As you stay here, you're losing the chance of being there on time.

  • Thanks for giving me the answer that I wanted to hear :) I don't think that #3 is invalid, however. – barak manos Sep 16 '14 at 19:32
  • 1
    All four are equally valid. Some are more awkward than others, is all. – RegDwigнt Sep 16 '14 at 19:35
  • @RegDwigнt I apologize, you're correct. See my edit. – scohe001 Sep 16 '14 at 19:53
  • How can you say that 3. is merely a little awkward? That may be splendid British-style understatement, but 3. is simply horrible. It really jars. – almagest Sep 16 '14 at 21:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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