[1] ...., which is less efficient and secure against ...

[2] ...., which is less efficient and less secure against ...

Is it necessary to mention "less" two times as shown in version [2] or is version [1] sufficient expressing that it is "less" in both cases?

  • Using it twice can often indicate emphasis, especially in rhetoric. "This method is less efficient and less secure", whereas singular use reads as the casual, normal phrase. – SuperBiasedMan Jan 26 '16 at 17:05
  • I realize that this question can be interpreted as soliciting primarily opinion-based answers, but I think the poster wants to know whether repeating the adverb in a list (versus using it once to modify two adjectives) is a decision that one can make based on personal preference (= opinion) or whether some strict rule that the poster is unfamiliar with is applicable. (The answer, SebTu, is that you can double the adverb or make one instance of it do double service, as you prefer.) – Sven Yargs Jan 31 '16 at 4:40

Consider the sentences:

  1. The method is less efficient and secure against hackers.

  2. The method is less efficient and less secure against hackers.

Both sentences can work to communicate the same thing, but (1) suffers from a structural ambiguity, whereas (2) does not. (2) is perfectly unambiguous.

The reason (1) is structurally ambiguous is because there are two syntactic structures which might underlie it. The first is the intended one where "less" modifies both "efficient" and "secure." The second is the unintended one where "less" modifies only "efficient." On this disambiguation, the sentence communicates that the method is less efficient and (nonetheless) secure against hackers

In short, if you definitely want to avoid ambiguity, go with (2). But keep in mind that (1), though ambiguous, is likely to be interpreted as intended.

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