I was recently trying to express a sentiment like the following.

New York is bluer than South Carolina is red.

(For those not familiar with U.S. political jargon, blue = Democratic and red = Republican.)

Although the above phrase is grammatical, it struck me as at least slightly awkward. I can think of numerous variations of this kind of sentence:

Joe is more courageous than Harry is foolish.

Janet caught more fish than I did crabs.

While these phrases can easily be reworked into a longer or different form, e.g. "Janet's fish outnumbered my crabs", I would like to know if there is a more fluent way of expressing this kind of comparison that preserves (more or less) the same structure.

  • 1
    Why does it strike you as slightly awkward? As far as I know that's the most fluent way of expressing it. Apr 15 '16 at 14:33
  • And why the downvote, anyone?
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 15 '16 at 14:48
  • For those not familiar with U.S. political jargon, Wikipedia says In the weeks following the 2000 election, however, there arose the terminology of red states and blue states, in which the conservative Republican Party was associated with red and the liberal Democratic Party with blue. That's to say this is for the most part a very new usage. Personally I doubt it'll persist long, given how consistently the rest of the world applies the opposite distinction (red symbolises left-wing ideologies, Red Flag, Red Army, Reds under the beds). Apr 15 '16 at 14:58
  • @JohnClifford I think it could be improved by explicitly stating the metric. New York is proportionally bluer than South Carolina is red based on registration figures. Otherwise, it may simply refer to vote totals which might give the opposite answer. The issue is does everyone who hears it get the same picture. Unless you are a politician, in which case the issue is does everyone who hears it hear what they want to hear.
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 15 '16 at 15:05
  • 1
    It's the sort of thing that makes some people get their shorts in a knot, but is perfectly fine for other than formal communications. (And, FF, "red" and "blue" has been the designation for US political parties for 30 years, at least. This comes, in part, from the de facto standard that magazines and networks adopted for using those colors on political maps of the states.)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 15 '16 at 18:07

Context can help.

New York is blue, South Carolina is red. But New York is bluer than South Carolina is red.

Since the blue-red info is no longer new which state is which color is less distracting in the second sentence.

An intensifier can help.

New York is more deeply blue than South Carolina is red.

Since the point of the sentence is comparative intensity it helps to have something expressing intensity.

To step outside the blue/red example:

Janet caught a lot/a few/slightly more fish than I did crabs.

I would be hard pressed to claim these are "more fluent" but they make your point a little easier to identify.

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