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4 Comments

  • About an expression used in this article “worse still” I would like to know if there are differences between worse better still, worse or better yet, and still worse or better. Thanks

  • Hi Sergio. Good question. All these expressions are used to emphasize that (to quote Macmillan Dictionary) “although something is big, good, bad, etc something else is even bigger, better, worse etc”. My feeling is that “worse/better still” is even more emphatic than “still worse/better”, an effect that is heightened by placing it at the start of a sentence, as in Michael’s post.
    In terms of frequency, “worse/better still” is much more frequent than “still worse/better”.
    The big surprise here to me from the corpus data is that “worse/better yet” is more frequent than either of the others (this is a perfect illustration of why you should always look in a corpus before pronouncing on these matters). Here are a few examples of use for you:

    There are bound to be attractions in towns you’ve never been to, or better yet , never even heard of!
    The number of cases continues to rise year after year; worse still, patients are getting younger and younger.
    Be sure that you take a few seconds to breathe and mentally shift gears. Still better, practice relaxation for 15 minutes twice a day.

  • From your quiz:

    “The heavy rain has already had an impact on food prices.

    The heavy rain has already impacted on food prices.”

    I’m surprised these were both considered correct, not because I have a problem with using impact as a verb, but because the preposition “on” in the second example seems redundant. “The heavy rain has already impacted food prices” would not strike me as incorrect in the slightest, and the use of impact as a noun was not my reason for picking the other version of the sentence as the correct one.

    Whereas the preposition is necessary in the first example because impact is being used as a noun, when it’s being used as a verb the preposition comes off as tautologous. The meaning of impact when used in this way surely already contains the idea of on, since you can’t have an impact if there’s nothing for the impact to happen to!

  • Flootzavut: you make a good point. We did consider both options for the quiz (“the rain impacted food prices” and “the rain impacted *on* food prices”). The evidence shows that both versions are more or less equally frequent: in a 1.6 billion word corpus, there are about 7.1k instances of “impact +on” and about 6.9k of “impact -on” (where “impact” is a verb – its use as a noun is far more common, with over 200k occurrences). The question of whether the preposition is “necessary” is an interesting one, but appeals to what seems logical don’t always help. Compare, for example, “We had a chat about the weather/We chatted about the weather” and “We had a discussion about the weather”, but not “*We discussed about the weather”. It’s not logical, but it works! In the case of “impact”, this particular verbal use is relatively recent and it’s possible that – over time – usage will stabilize, and settle for one version or the other.