Columns » Words

Words March 30

by and

comment

“Mardi Gras, which begins in earnest in New Orleans today, will be no less boisterous and luxuriant as previous ones, organizers say.”

This is from the Penguin Dictionary of American English Style and Usage:

“One as is usually not enough when a sentence likens two things in a simile or contrasts them in a comparison. Idiom calls for an as … as pair: ‘as happy as a lark’ or ‘twice as high as last year’s price.’ ”

In the example, there’s no place to put a second as, so we have to take the first one out and replace it with than: “Mardi Gras, which begins in earnest in New Orleans today, will be no less boisterous and luxuriant than previous ones, organizers say.”

Sometimes, people try to mix as and than in comparisons. Doesn’t work. The Penguin says: “The idioms are confused in these grim statistical items from television news: ‘The rate of crib deaths is twice as high for black infants than for whites.’/ ‘ … A child is fourteen times as likely to die of gunshot wounds in this country than in Northern Ireland.’ Each ‘than’ should be as …

“Than would be right in a construction like this: ‘It’s more popular than any other novel in print.’ Than commonly follows (1) an adjective with the suffix –er or (2) the adverb more or less plus an adjective.” As in, “Mardi Gras will be no less boisterous and luxuriant than previous ones.”

Incidentally, luxurious, which has to do with pleasure, is the word that belongs in that sentence, not luxuriant.



“All totaled, residents of Pleasant Plains and the nearby Floral collected about $400,000 and as a result, the board voted against a merger.”

A minor error, but the common phrase that belongs here is “all told,” not “all totaled.” A reader complains of a couple of Arkansas-Democrat Gazette columnists who haven’t mastered the usage.



Long-range suicide:

“A gunman who opened fire with a shotgun during a church service Sunday morning killed a woman and wounded two people before he shot himself a mile away, police said.”










Add a comment

Clicky