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How do you express the difference between two value correctly?

Let's say I have several houses. For example house A has a larger height than house B. Now I have several cases where I just want to compare the difference from A to B, coming from the height of A. For example:

  1. The difference to B is 50 feet. (from the context it should be clear that the starting point is the height of A)

  2. The difference from B is 50 feet.

Which is better/correct? Note that if possible I do not want to say "the difference between A and B is...". I know this is correct, but I have many houses to compare, and it is tedious to mention the pairs exactly each time. I prefer to define a starting point, for example the height of house A, and then compare it with other heights by stating just the "difference to ...". But I am not sure if you can do this in English.

Another example to show what I mean:

  1. The height of house A is 100 feet. The difference in height to house B is 50 feet.

Thanks for any guidance.

1 Answer 1

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Any of the following:

This is 50 feet taller than house B
This is 50 feet more than house B
House B is 50 feet shorter

Here, we use an a pronoun ("This" for the first 2 examples, implicit in the third) in place of "the height of house A", and write our sentence to compare House B against it - specifically, comparing the quantity of their heights

This not only indicates the difference in height (absolute magnitude), it has also specified which is greater (direction), giving you a vector quantity - something that your examples lacked.

In addition, you can easily chain additional houses into the text:

The height of house A is 100 feet. This is 50 feet taller than house B, but only 30 feet taller than house C, and 5 feet shorter than house D.
or
The height of house A is 100 feet. Houses B and C are 50 and 30 feet shorter, respectively, while house D is 5 feet taller

If you are trying to make the sentence even more elliptical, direct references to "height" or "feet" can be also omitted:

The height of house A is 100 feet. This is 50 feet more than house B, but only 30 more than house C, and 5 less than house D

However, I feel that this leaves out too much information, and is harder to read.

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  • ok thank you very much, that makes it clearer. But let's assume that I was talking about the height of house A for a while, so from the context it is clear we refer to its height. Then I want to talk about the difference between A and B (and it is also clear from the context that height of A > height of B). Can I then say: "The difference in height to house B is ...", or is that incorrect? I want to refer to the difference, as my table reports differences, not actual heights.
    – user394930
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 13:03
  • Another option would be the "difference relative to ..."?
    – user394930
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 13:11
  • @user394930 Yes, although you would probably explicitly state that you were doing a comparison ("the difference in height compared to house B is 50 feet") Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 13:16
  • thank you very much
    – user394930
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 16:23
  • 1
    @user394930 You could start with house A then list all the others comparing them to A by saying "Compared to house A house B is 50 feet shorter, house C is 30 feet shorter, house D is 5 feet taller and house E is the same height." If you had a lot of them, however, it would probably be better to use a bulleted list or a table, long repetitive sentences get very boring very quickly.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 7:08

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