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I am writing a scientific paper that was sent to a language revision (proofreading) service. Unfortunately, the whole process runs via a web portal so that it is not possible for me the reply to the proofreader. For the sentence (simplified version)

A is ten times as high as B.

a revision was suggested:

A is ten times higher than B.

However in my opinion, the first sentence means A = 10 x B, whereas the second sentence means A = 10 x B + B (or A - B = 10 x B). Thus, the correct version would be:

A is nine times higher than B.

Questions

  • Is as high as appropriate for academic texts?
  • If not, what is an alternative?
  • (Am I wrong with my opinion described above?), edit: answered here

Context

The sentence is from a paper on air pollution. A and B refer to concentrations of air pollutants at two distinct locations.

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  • With all due respect, yours is a basic English question. They BOTH mean: A= 10 x B. Both can be said. Two ways to say the same thing. Dunno where the nine comes in at all. The first way is better in your paper.
    – Lambie
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:16
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    Could you give a bit more context? Why are you using the word "high" at all? If they're numbers/figures, it seems to me you could just say "A is ten times B".
    – herisson
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:25
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    I have no idea why your editor objects to the first; it's unambiguous and grammatically correct. The second is ambiguous, as noted in the question @EdwinAshworth links to. There's nothing wrong with saying "as high as" in academic writing. Feb 2, 2017 at 19:33
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    Are you really talking about height or do you really mean larger?
    – Jim
    Feb 2, 2017 at 23:23
  • @Lambie : A = 10 x B (first sentence, 10 times as high) => A = 9 x B + B <=> A - B = 9 x B (third sentence, 9 times higher). To clarify the latter: I want to buy new boots. Their prize in shop a is 100 EUR (=A) and in shop b is 10 EUR (=B). In shop a they cost 90 EUR more than in shop b. <=> In shop a the prize is 9 times the prize in shop b.. If we were writing 10 times it was 100 EUR difference, which is wrong. Feb 3, 2017 at 11:35

2 Answers 2

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The editor is right to object to your phrase, or at least, I wouldn't use it in formal writing either. It might depend on the field but it just doesn't feel "right" to me. I don't, however, agree with the suggested alternative. I would instead suggest you write:

A is ten times the height of B.

That clearly and unambiguously means that the height(A) = 10 x height(B). You haven't given any context here, but depending on what you want to say and what A and B are, you might also want to consider:

A is ten times B.

A is greater than B by a factor of 10.

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    For parallelism, I would prefer "The height of A is ten times the height of B" (which I suppose could be reduced to "The height of A is ten times that of B"). Otherewise I agree with this.
    – herisson
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:26
  • @sumelic interesting. For some reason I don't much like The height of A is ten times the height of B (though I do prefer your shorter version). I admit that I am imagining this in the context of bar graphs where A and B are bars.
    – terdon
    Feb 2, 2017 at 19:28
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Both A is ten times as high as B and A is ten times higher than B can be used. Although one may think that the latter means A is eleven times as high as B, it really means the same as the former.

I imagine that here A and B are walls with different heights, in which case you can write A's height is ten times B's to make things crystal clear. If they are numbers, you should just use A is ten times B.

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