Hello Teachers

"Stars shrink from being many times larger than the Sun to many times smaller than the Sun in a few tens of thousands years"

Please look at the sentence above. This is a sentence I picked up from a British academic site. What I find odd here is the expression "many times smaller". Is it natural in English to say "many times smaller", "many times slower", "many times dimmer", etc.? In my language, "many times" is used with a comparative of adjectives with some positive sense and not used with comaparives of negative adjectives. When we want to say "many times smaller", we use an expression like "one many-th smaller". Is there any good phrase equivalent to "one many-th" in English?


"many times smaller", "many times slower"

His house is three times bigger than mine.

Bill Gate is many times richer than Danold Trump .

I beleive it’s correct.
Hi, Goodman

I know "many times bigger" is correct. But do you think "many times smaller" is correct? This is the question I asked and am asking.

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Try this on for size.

The moon is many times smaller than Jupitor.
Hello Paco

Yes, it's natural to say "many times X-er", or "many time more X", where X is an adjective. I can't think of an equivalent of "one many-th"; though a member many times more awake than I am now may well produce one.

I suppose it's a little like using the "zoom" feature, on a pdf or image file: if you click the magnifying-glass-minus icon many times, the image is "many times smaller".

However, although it's natural to say "twice as big", etc., I have a feeling that many native speakers would become a little confused if you said "twice as small". Instead, it's more usual to say "half as big".

Probably "50% smaller" would confuse some natives too; though not "50% bigger".

(I wonder if a decrease is generally more difficult to comprehend than an increase. And it's easier to play upward musical scales than downward ones...)


Thank you for the replies. MrP, I know what you mean. You say you use "X" in "X times smaller" as a scale-down factor. But I feel many English speakers have some resistance to using "X times" as the modifier for negative adjectives. I googled some phrases and got the results as follows:
"3 times longer" vs "3 times shorter"=1980,000 vs 605
"3 times heavier" vs "3 times lighter"= 9,400 vs 669
"3 times brighter" vs "3 times dimmer"=18,600 vs 65
"3 times larger" vs "3 times smaller"= 272,000 vs 44,200
"3 times faster" vs "3 times slower"= 418,000 vs 25,200
"3 times richer" vs "3 times poorer"= 556 vs 219
It's quite interesting English speakers seem not to feel so much in the positivity difference between "rich" and "poor".

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Paco2004But I feel many English speakers have some resistance to using "X times" as the modifier for negative adjectives.

Yes, I think you're right – but is it a linguistic or a mathematical resistance, I wonder?


The relative change in difference between "richer" and "poorer" may be down to their ambiguous nature, as both are homonyms, but not always complimentary ones. A few examples below.

This wealthy person is richer - This povetous person is poorer.

This pudding is richer - This pudding is weaker.

This result is poorer - This result is better.

I think some people say something is 2 times bigger when they mean twice as big. 50% bigger is 150%, one times bigger is 200%. Also real things can't be more than 100% smaller. Something can be .999 times smaller than another but when you reach one times smaller it ceases to exist. If your bank account is 2 times smaller than Bill Gates then your are in trouble. $X -2$X is -$X

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