As much as, if not more

Last time around, we talked about how you can have five times more of something, but not five times less. Today let’s look at a related issue.

If you started out with one gallon of ice cream and ended up with five gallons, you now have five times more than you started with, right?

No, not right.

You have five times as much as you started with. “As much” and “more” are two different things, which is obvious when you think about it.

When you write about having X-times as much of something, the X-number includes the amount you started with. When you talk about having X-times more, the X-number does not include the original amount.

This is a case where you don’t dare say to yourself, “Oh, the reader knows what I mean.” As always, the readers know only what you write. If they don’t care about the difference between “more” and “as much as,” that’s on them. But a lot of readers do know the difference, and you don’t want your own sloppiness to mislead them.

If you tell them you started with a gallon of ice cream and now you have five times more, they’ll expect you to have six gallons altogether. You don’t want to disappoint people when it comes to ice cream.

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