If some points do not add to an expected value, what is a good way to emphasize the sum was greater than or less than the value?

So, instead of simply stating the fact that The sum was greater than X, but I could say something like The sum is in excess of X. Similarly, I could say The sum is in short of Y for the other case.

However, I feel like they are simpler ways to express these two scenarios. It doesn't necessarily need to use correct mathematical or legal terms. I felt that is short of probably works for this case, but in excess of did not sound like the proper antonym, and it also sounded a bit to verbose. Any suggestions?

  • The idiom is short of X, not in short of. You could consider using a vertical metaphor -- above or below, far above or somewhat below. If you are simply footnoting a column in a table, there is a standard phrase "Values do not sum to X" that can be used. You can add "because of rounding" or something similar to explain, if necessary. Commented May 13, 2020 at 21:33
  • 1
    the sum fell short of.
    – Jim
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 21:47
  • Nothing in your Question suggests emphasis. For emphasis you would need "… far/greatly/significantly/way short of…" I suggest the Question belongs either in English Language Learners or one of the many specialist maths groups. Commented May 13, 2020 at 21:54
  • Use an exclamation mark.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


Based on your desire for an alternative to greater than/less than, I would go with The sum exceeds X and The sum falls short of Y. @Jim noted the latter in his comment on your question.

Exceeds and falls short of are stronger that is greater than and is less than (they are stronger verbs), and they are natural antonyms, which might satisfy your desire for same.

Also, exceeds is one word, while is greater than is three words.

  • Thanks, I really like that. But I also want to emphasize how much the value is off from the expected sum. I guess I could say The sum exceeds X by <some value> and The sum falls short of X by <some value>. Commented May 14, 2020 at 21:00
  • @CookieMonster I get it, but you didn't say that in your question. You have to solve that problem with greater than/less than and any alternative you may choose. What you've suggested is the only way I know to quantify the exceedance or shortfall. It solves the problem and is perfectly correct. Commented May 14, 2020 at 21:06

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