В (degree of comparison)


English and Russian both have special comparison forms for adjectives and adverbs, which makes them seem sort of similar. In English the comparative form often ends in -er, and in Russian it often ends in -е or -ее:

The Ferrari is faster than the Toyota.
Феррари быстрее, чем Тойота.

Bill Gates is richer than Eike Batista.
Билл Гейтс богаче, чем Айке Батиста.

This building is taller than that building.
Это здание выше, чем то здание.

Joan Collins is older than Keira Knightley.
Джон Кaлинз старше, чем Кира Найтли.¹

But here is a curious thing: if you want to say how many times someone or something is faster, richer, taller or older, then in English there are two constructions you can use. One of them uses an “as...as” phrase without a comparative form, and one of them uses a comparative form with a ‘than’ phrase.

The Ferrari is twice as fast as the Toyota.
The Ferrari is two times faster than the Toyota.

Joan Collins is three times as old as Keira Knightley.
Joan Collins is three times older than Keira Knightley.

This building is five times as tall as that building.
This building is five times taller than that building.

In Russian you always use the comparative form. The word for ‘time’ in this context is раз, which has an irregular genitive plural ‘раз’, and the number must be preceded by the preposition в, which in this context works with the accusative case of the number:

Феррари в два раза быстрее, чем Тойота.
Джон Калинз в три раза старше, чем Кира Найтли.
Это здание в пять раз выше, чем то здание.

Oh, let's try a few more.

Население Москвы в двадцать два раза больше, чем население Тулы.
The population of Moscow is twenty two times larger than the population of Tula.

У моей двоюродной сестры в три раза больше зубов, чем у меня. У неё такая красивая улыбка.
My cousin has three times as many teeth as I do. She has such a pretty smile.

Бриллианты в сорок раз дороже, чем муассанит.
Diamonds are forty times more expensive than moissanite.

¹ If you look at the Wikipedia article on Joan Collins, you will see her name transliterated as Джоан Коллинз, which has an unpronounced ‘а’ and an unpronounced extra ‘л’, which have been added under the influence of English spelling. That is a *bad thing*. Dear Russian Wikipedia authors, please do not fall under the terrible influence of English spelling. You have a marvelous tradition in Russian of spelling things much more closely to their pronunciation. It is why the Russian application of Cyrillic is superior to the English application of the Latin alphabet. Notice that the author of the Kira Knightley article didn't make that mistake. Please maintain your excellent and sensible tradition, and, eight hundred years from now, when we English speakers finally have a sensible spelling reform, you can taunt us with an alphabetic “I told you so!”Original post blogged on b2evolution.