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I came across this sentence in something I am editing:

... his opportunities in the manufacturing industry are particularly lower than expected.

Am I wrong to object to the use of “particularly” in this sentence? I think it sounds odd, a little stilted, and I would like to recommend that the writer use “much” instead:

... his opportunities in the manufacturing industry are much lower than expected.

That sounds more natural to me. But does the sentence lose something by switching from “particularly” to “much”?

  • what has your dictionary search revealed? – lbf May 28 '19 at 20:25
  • My dictionary doesn’t object to the use, but it doesn't tell me if this is an unusual construction or if it’s elegant or not. – debbiesym May 28 '19 at 20:30
  • as I suspected ... your question will likely be deemed off topic as it is a matter of opinion. – lbf May 28 '19 at 20:33
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    The problem is that particularly should be used with the positive form, not the comparative. "Particularly low" works fine, but "particularly lower" is awful. – Robusto May 28 '19 at 21:53
  • Are you sure the intended meaning is are much lower than expected. Obviously I only have that snippet to go on, but I would guess the writer was trying to draw special attention to the fact that opportunities in manufacturing are lower than expected, or say that although opportunties are lower than expected in several sectors, it is particularly true of manufacturing. Maybe opportunities in the manufacturing sector, in particular, are lower than expected. – user339660 May 29 '19 at 0:55
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It is not incorrect, but it is an unusual formulation.

The OED has "To a special degree; to a higher degree than usual; more than in other cases; especially, markedly, notably; much, very." as the third definition, but is usually applied positively: "particularly abundant", "particularly useful", "particularly intelligent", etc.

To me, using particularly in "particularly lower" grates. I would challenge the author to come up with a more suitable adverb, as you suggest ("much", or "significantly").

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I might guess the author intended something more like:

... his opportunities, particularly in the manufacturing industry, are lower than expected.

but you may well be correct; it's an improvement in any case.

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