I keep reading the phrase 10 times lighter than..... or similar. This quote is current: "Plastic containers are cheaper to make and 15 times lighter than glass ones, says Dairy Crest". This can not be correct usage surely?

I can take 'glass ones being 15 times heavier than plastic ones' or, though unwieldy, plastic ones are 1/15th the weight of plastic (ones), but 15 times lighter?

It seems popular.

  • 1
  • The Times more / less than post at Language Log provides a good overview. Also related: “X times as many as” or “X times more than”. – choster Sep 26 '14 at 17:28
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers And I hope everyone on the site accepts the answer which was ticked as correct, at that time, and that any intelligent and literate person accepts that 'ten times fewer' is nonsensical. – WS2 Sep 26 '14 at 17:32
  • @WS2: Apparently not only am I the only one who downvoted the accepted answer on that earlier question (saying the usage is definitely incorrect and meaningless). I'm also the only one who upvoted Colin Fine's answer (which IMHO quite correctly points out that "language has very little to do with logic"). Given such usages are perfectly comprehensible and relatively common, why try to argue against them on the grounds of misplaced logical principles? – FumbleFingers Sep 26 '14 at 17:54
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers As one who spent much of his career (accountancy) trying to persuade non-financial people to quote, and understand figures logically, I can but disagree. Colin Fine makes a valid point, that language is not logic. And that's fine if you are a poet but not if you are a statistician! – WS2 Sep 26 '14 at 18:02

Sometimes grammar seems odd but is correct. My opinion is that you're using the rule properly. In your phrase 'than' is used following a comparative adjective. In this case, you're comparing plastic containers to glass containers. I don't see an issue with how you have used 'than' here.

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