Given I have a set of some values, for example, a mean price for petrol in month for 12 months. All that values are steadily but slightly increasing in each consecutive month.

Is it allowed to say for the whole set that the price is slightly increasing without meaning of two separate values?


I don't think there is any definition of "slight" that would bind you to a mere two values, The OED definition, for instance, is

Small in degree; inconsiderable:

I don't read anything into this that would suggest that it's between two points only, merely that the degree of change is low. If you wanted to avoid ambiguity you could say something like "The price has increased slightly each month over the 12 months studied."

  • Yes +1, if you add "each month" that makes it work. – chasly from UK Jul 30 '15 at 11:48
  • You said "to avoid ambiguity" - does it mean that a native person won't understand my example sentence? – Dmitry Tonkonogov Jul 31 '15 at 5:59
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    Hi Dmitry, I think the risk of ambiguity would also apply to a native English speaker. Although perhaps it's not even so much "ambiguity" as "lack of clarity". It's similar to what Chasly was saying. If you were to say that the price has "slightly increased" over the entire year, it does not give any indication of the pattern of that increase. It may have been flat (or even decreased) for 6 months, then jumped up markedly in the last 6 months. That of course doesn't agree with your data. By including the reference to months you make it clear that each month had a slight increase. – Alan K Jul 31 '15 at 8:17

No, 'slightly' doesn't work there.

I think the word you want is 'gradually'




in a gradual way; slowly; by degrees. "the situation gradually improved"

synonyms: slowly, moderately, unhurriedly, cautiously, gently, gingerly, circumspectly, unspectacularly; More

  • I agree that "gradually" is a very decent alternative; but I believe that slightly can still work as per the example that I suggested. – Alan K Jul 30 '15 at 11:44
  • To be honest, I don't see any explanation (in fact, that's why I ask it here). Alan (from the other answer) pointed to the OED definition. If I substitute slightly with the definition, I will get to my mind "all the price changes are inconsiderable small". Is it ambiguity (like Alan said) or just a completely wrong sentence? Is there any material I can read? – Dmitry Tonkonogov Jul 31 '15 at 6:08
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    I think what both Chasly and I are getting at is this; the problem with saying that it is a slight increase over the entire period is that it doesn't give the reader an indication of a trend of that increase. As per the example in the comment to my post, by saying that it was a "slight increase" over the year you're giving the reader the net effect; but your data shows more information than that. Chasly's suggestion of "gradually" also suggests a trend; that the increases have been slow and steady rather than (possibly) violently up and down. – Alan K Jul 31 '15 at 8:24

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