I want to use two sentences as examples for my questions:

i) The amount of A will not be matched by that of B.

ii) The amount of A will be unmatched by that of B.

Is it correct to say that: ii) only suggests that B's amount will be greater; whereas i) shows at least two possibilities---either B's will be greater or A will be greater?

I am not sure but it seems to me that "not matched by" suggests a difference, unlike "unmatched" which shows one is greater than the other.

Could anyone help explain? Thanks!

1 Answer 1


Among the many meanings of match, two are relevant: one of equality and one of implied comparison.

a match =

a person or thing that is equal to another person or thing in strength, speed, or quality:

"We are matched in strength"

to be less powerful or effective than someone or something else:

"Gibson ran well but was no match for the young Italian."

Cambridge dictionary

Therefore, either of your statements may be understood simply to say that A and B are not equal, without making any comparison.

And either may be understood to imply that A and B are unequal. Which is the bigger may only be understood from context and not by the order in which A and B appear in the sentence. Consider:

"The beans in a jug are unmatched/not matched by the beans in a silo."

"The beans in a silo are unmatched/not matched by the beans in a jug."

The order of A and B is irrelevant; we understand from each statement that a silo holds much more than a jug.

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