Suppose we are comparing a particular characteristic (that takes comparative -er) of two items, A and B. Compared to B, A displays double that characteristic. There are multiple ways we can express this:

1) A is two times as (adj.) as B.

2) A is twice as (adj.) as B.

3) A is two times (adj.)-er than B.

4) A is twice (adj.)-er than B.

My "American English ear" hears that last one as...troublesome. Yet a Google search turns up examples of this construction (e.g. "twice larger", "twice longer").

Is this construction valid in any (or all?) varieties of English?

  • 1
    Interesting mistake, a case for when "two times" is preferred. Many of the Google results are from non-native speakers. Eek! . . . despite the fact that Auburn had the ball more than twice longer than Texas A&M. AmEng variety or carelessness?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 2, 2015 at 6:44
  • @Mari-LouA Yeah, I naturally attributed some of those results to non-native speakers, but there are even hits when you filter by news. Perhaps it's mostly from people being quoted (i.e. [sic]). It just left me uncertain if I'm strange in hearing it as "off."
    – pyobum
    Apr 2, 2015 at 6:47
  • Another American source but this time less squeamish than the first, it sounds kinda acceptable . . . smaller size, last three antennomeres weakly clubbed; head at least twice longer than wide, I suppose it sh/could have been "its head doubled the length of its width" or something like that. How would you rephrase it? Would you? (why your question received a downvote is beyond me!)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 2, 2015 at 7:06
  • @Mari-LouA I would probably phrase it "head at least twice as long as it is wide." Regarding the downvote, perhaps I should have worded my question more carefully. It may read too much like a "survey" question.
    – pyobum
    Apr 2, 2015 at 7:15
  • 2
    Both twice and two times larger cause a semantic short-circuit for me. If B is twice larger than A, and A has size X, then how big is B? Once larger_ can be read as as large, and once again the same size, meaning that "C is once larger than A" means that C is two times the size of A. Does twice larger then mean three times as big, four times as big, or two times as big (and is twice larger as large as once larger?)
    – oerkelens
    Apr 2, 2015 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


"Is this construction valid in any (or all?) varieties of English?" – Yes, the "construction" is; the semantics may not be, though.

There's nothing "unAmerican" about it either.

"My … ear hears that last one as...troublesome." – all ears ought to find it so, it's semantically awkward/ maybe even invalid (fails to make sense to some?), yet it works.

All English: twice larger than had a respectable life, dominated over two times larger than for some time around (late) 1800s, and continues to lead a quiet and comfortable life today.

See also: AmE; BrE

This answer is not based on interpretation of nGrams – I started off with the answer, and then found nGrams to be supportive, to some extent, of what I wanted to say.

  • 1
    The way I read your AmE; BrE charts is that in the mid 1800s there were a (relatively small) number of "less-than-competent speakers" in America at the time. Dutch immigrants might figure highly there, since my understanding from this Chicago Linguistic Society article is the "error" represents normal syntax in their mother tongue. I see it as a syntax/idiomatic usage issue in English (I can't see any semantic issues). Apr 2, 2015 at 13:06
  • @FumbleFingers "This answer is not based on interpretation of nGrams"
    – Kris
    Apr 2, 2015 at 13:55
  • I know - I'm just saying I think that if anything the NGrams (showing a temporary mid-1800 peak for the usage in AmE but not BrE) imply it has not had "a respectable life". It just seems to reflect a small number of "non-idiomatic" usages from people still affected by their (non-English) native language. Apr 2, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    When I click on the details of the bump around 1890, there seem to be lots of repetitions of the same report from the Michigan Board of Agriculture.
    – Barmar
    Apr 2, 2015 at 18:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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