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‘The number was higher’ vs ‘There were more’

Which of these sentences sounds better?

1. Female teachers were more than male teachers.

2. The number of female teachers was more than male teachers.

3. There were more female teachers than male teachers.

Answer

Sentence 3 is the BEST sentence.

The meaning of Sentences 1 and 2 is understandable, but they are not grammatically accurate.

Which of these sentences sounds better?

1. Female teachers were less than male teachers.

2. The number of female teachers was less than male teachers.

3. There were less female teachers than male teachers.

Answer

Sentence 3 is the BEST sentence.

The meaning of Sentences 1 and 2 is understandable, but they are not grammatically accurate.

PLEASE NOTE: The use of ‘less’ vs ‘fewer’

LESS is normally used with UNCOUNTABLE nouns (less sugar, less fat, fewer calories) but these days everyone uses LESS because it’s easier.

Grammatically correct:

3. There were fewer female teachers than male teachers. 

Acceptable version:

3. There were less female teachers than male teachers.

 

‘more/less + adjective + than’

Look at these 2 comparisons – what comes after ‘more’?

  • The gym WAS more POPULAR with women than with men.
  • The paper bags WERE more EXPENSIVE than the plastic ones.

 ‘was/were more than’ needs an ADJECTIVE.

To solve this problem, use the magic ‘There was/were’ e.g.

‘There were more female teachers than male teachers’.

verb + more/less + than’

Are these sentences ok?

  • Paper bags COST more than paper ones.
  • Female athletes TRAINED more than their male counterparts.
  • Older people SPEND more than teenagers.
Answer

Yes, they are all ok.

They use a MAIN VERB (cost, train, spend).

They do not use WAS/WERE.

Notice that you can also use LESS:

  • Paper bags COST less than paper ones.
  • Female athletes TRAINED less than their male counterparts.
  • Older people SPEND less than teenagers.

‘higher/lower than’

Which one of these sentences is correct?

1. The number of women was more than the number of men.

2. The number of women was higher than the number of men.

Answer

Sentence 2 is better.

I understand Sentence 1, and it is not a big mistake.

But as we saw before, ‘was more/less than’ needs an adjective. 

So you say the number was ‘higher’ or ‘lower’.

Other options

  • The number/proportion/percentage was higher/lower.
  • OR There were more/fewer/less* people.
  • OR There were more/fewer/less* men going to the gym than women.
  • OR More men went to the gym/had gym memberships than women.
  • OR Men accounted for a higher percentage of full-time gym-goers than women.
  • OR Men outnumbered women in terms of membership.
  • OR The gym was more popular with men than women.
  • OR The gym was attended/frequented more regularly by men than women.
  • OR The majority of gym members were male.
  • OR Men made up the majority of the gym members.

*LESS should only be used with UNCOUNTABLE nouns (less sugar, less fat, fewer calories) but these days everyone uses LESS because it’s easier.

The magic ‘There was/were’ + noun

‘THERE’ can describe comparisons AND change, so you need to build your confidence in using it.

There were more men than women’.

There was an increase in the number of women’.

There have been a number of changes in the town’.

Number vs rate

Common mistake:

*The number of attendance was equal.

Correct options:

  • The rate of attendance was equal.
  • The number of people attending was equal.
  •  An equal number of women went to the gym in August and September.
  • Women went to the gym the same number of times in both August and September.
IELTS grammar: There were
IELTS Grammar: There was/were

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