When we want to determine whether things are the same or different, we “compare” them. We use comparisons to describe their relevant characteristics and determine how they measure up to one another. We use comparative adjectives to speak about their differences in English grammar, but can we say “bigger number”?
It is correct to say “bigger number” when we speak about a quantity or number greater than the other quantities or numbers in question. “Bigger” is a comparative adjective that we use to describe the difference between two numbers we are comparing. However, it is not the best collocation, so it’s generally better to say “greater” or “larger” instead.
When we refer to numbers, “bigger number” is an acceptable phrase to use since “bigger” describes the number we are referring to. Read on to learn whether “bigger number” is grammatically correct and how and when to use this phrase.
What Does “Bigger Number” Mean?
“Bigger number” means that a quantity or number is bigger or larger than the second or remainder of the quantities or numbers.
On its own, the word “bigger” is a comparative adjective. Adjectives are describing words that we use to modify a noun or pronoun. Thus, adjectives can strengthen a noun’s meaning (source).
A comparative adjective compares two numbers, people, or things. It allows us to express whether a quantity, person, or thing has more or less of a certain quality (source).
When we add the word “number” after the comparative adjective “bigger,” we inherently compare two quantities. “Bigger number” implies that one number is bigger than another number.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Bigger Number”?
It is grammatically correct to say “bigger number,” and we can use this phrase to compare two numbers or quantities in a sentence.
Again, this is because the word “bigger” in the phrase “bigger number” is a comparative adjective. We use these types of adjectives to discuss differences between numbers, things, or people.
Consider the following example:
The farmer with 46 potatoes has a bigger number of potatoes than the farmer with 35 potatoes.
Here, it is both factually accurate and grammatically correct to use the phrase “bigger number” since the farmer with 46 potatoes holds a greater quantity of potatoes than the farmer with 35 potatoes.
Whenever you use the phrase “bigger number,” you are inherently making a comparison of two quantities. You can directly state both quantities in question as we did in the example above.
However, you can also state one of the quantities directly and imply the other. Here is a brief example:
We made a bigger number of sales this month.
This sentence directly mentions a bigger number of sales in the month. However, we do not directly note the other quantity. Instead, we have implied we are comparing the number of sales this month to those in other months.
Using “Bigger Number” in a Full Sentence
When we use the phrase “bigger number” in a full sentence, we need to make sure that we are comparing two different quantities.
We have used “bigger number” to do just that in the examples below!
- The local grocery store carries a bigger number of apples than the farm.
- The ocean holds a bigger number of fish than the lake.
- You should buy a bigger number of pies for the upcoming party.
- We all know that 21 is a bigger number than 19.
- Will obtained a bigger number after he recalculated the math problem.
- The candidate needs to receive a bigger number of votes to win the election.
In each of the sentences above, we make a comparison to describe the differences between two distinct quantities. Were you able to identify the two quantities in each example? Here is a quick breakdown:
|Example||Quantity 1||Quantity 2|
|1||Number of apples at the store||Number of apples on the farm|
|2||Number of fish in the ocean||Number of fish in the lake|
|3||Previous amount of pies in question||Amount of pies needed now|
|4||The number 21||The number 19|
|5||The number before the recalculation||The number after the recalculation|
|6||The number of votes for the opposition||The number of votes needed|
How Do You Use “Bigger Number”?
You should use the phrase “bigger number” when comparing the quantity of two things. When we use the adjective “bigger” in this way, we apply it as a comparative adjective.
You can use the phrase “bigger number” to compare actual numbers using the preposition “than” (source).
- Three hundred is a bigger number than one hundred.
- Lisa won the card game because she had a bigger number than her opponents.
In the first example, “number” is a subject complement following a linking verb, while the object of the preposition we’re comparing to the subject follows “than.” In the second example, “number” serves as the direct object of an action verb.
You can also use the phrase “bigger number” to compare the amounts of two things. We need to include the preposition “of” after “bigger number” and then add the relevant noun when we do this.
- The boy caught a bigger number of fish compared to the girl.
- Reed has a bigger number of Instagram followers after his post went viral.
- We had to reserve a bigger number of seats at the restaurant.
- The team needed a bigger number of saves to win the game.
In these sentences, “bigger” is the comparative adjective that modifies the noun “number.”
When Can You Use “Bigger Number”?
You can use “bigger number” to compare different quantities in the past tense, the present tense, and the future tense.
Whether you are comparing two past figures, two current figures, or two future figures, you can use the phrase “bigger number.” You’ll find sample sentences that demonstrate how to apply “bigger number” in different verb tenses in the table below.
|The middle school had a bigger number of students than the elementary school.||Past Tense|
|We had a bigger number of applicants for the secretarial position.||Past Tense|
|My new boat holds a bigger number of passengers than my old one.||Present Tense|
|The football team has a bigger number of athletes than the soccer team.||Present Tense|
|The new venue will be able to fit a bigger number of guests.||Future Tense|
|The university will have a bigger number of transfer students next semester.||Future Tense|
As you can see, we can use “bigger number” to discuss varying quantities in the past, present, or future. You simply need to alter the verb tense to match the appropriate time frame to do this.
In What Context Can You Use “Bigger Number”?
You can use the phrase “bigger number” in semi-formal and informal contexts where it makes sense to use an adjective to compare two distinct quantities. Still, “bigger” is rather bland compared to better options like “greater.”
We generally can’t go wrong when describing numbers with adjectives like bigger, larger, greater, or higher. It does, however, get a little more tricky when determining whether we are describing physical size, degree of skills, and popularity.
Bigger, larger, and greater are synonyms, but we generally view the words “larger” or “greater” as more formal. If you wanted to speak more formally, you could say “larger quantity,” and if you wanted to speak more casually, you could say “bigger number.”
Like the word “larger,” we consider the word “greater” to be more formal than “bigger.” Given the formality of the word “greater,” we hear the term “greater quantity” more often than “bigger quantity.”
Even though we consider “larger quantity” as more formal than “bigger number,” the phrase “bigger number” is still not so informal as to sound out of place in a formal conversation.
In another situation, you may have seen or heard the use of “bigger” in a phrase like “bigger person.” In this context, we use “bigger” to mean “of higher moral standing.” When we describe someone as being a “bigger person,” the word “bigger” refers to the “state of being” of that particular individual.
However, when we use the adjective “bigger” before the noun “number,” the word “bigger” directly refers to a specific quantity.
When Not to Use “Bigger Number”
You should not use the phrase “bigger number” when the quantity, thing, or person you are describing is not larger than the other. You should also not use “bigger number” when not comparing two quantities, things, or people.
Let’s look at a few examples of when not to use the phrase “bigger number” and how to correct them.
Incorrect: The number 4 is a bigger number than 5.
Correct: The number 5 is a bigger number than 4.
The first statement is incorrect as the number 5 has a higher value or quality than the number 4.
Incorrect: The number 98 is the bigger number on the list.
Correct: The number 98 is the biggest number on the list.
The first statement is an incorrect use of the phrase “bigger number” because we can only use comparative adjectives when there are only two numbers, things, or people to compare.
If there are more than two comparisons, we use a superlative adjective. These adjective types end with -est, and the superlative adjective of “bigger” is “biggest.”
What Can You Use Instead of “Bigger Number”?
As an alternative to the phrase “bigger number,” you can use other comparative adjectives like “larger,” “greater,” or “higher” to compare the difference between two quantities.
Another way you can alter this phrase is to exchange the word “number” with a word like “quantity” or “amount.” Here are some examples:
- Jessica has a higher number of gold medals than Samantha.
- There are a greater number of people living in the city than in the country.
- You can see that 25 is a larger number than 23.
- We had a greater amount of candidates for this job opening.
- The 4th-grade class sold a higher quantity of cookies at the bake sale.
- I have a larger amount of keepsakes than my brother does.
Remember, “larger” and “greater” are more formal ways to say “bigger.” Similarly, “quantity” is more formal than “number.” Again, consider the context when you are deciding which phrasing is best.
Comparative adjectives are one of the adjective types we can use to compare one thing with another.
We use comparative adjectives to compare two people or things. A comparative adjective describes how a person or thing may have or show a high degree of a particular quality. They can also show that one thing or person is a better example of a quality than the other.
- An orange is a healthier snack than a milkshake.
Here, the comparative adjective better illustrates the qualities of the word “healthy.”
There are some grammar rules to follow when using comparative adjectives in a sentence. For instance, we only use a comparative adjective when comparing two people or things.
If you want to compare more than two, you can use a superlative adjective. For example, we use superlative adjectives to describe a number, thing, or person with an extreme quality (source).
- The ostrich is the fastest bird in the world.
A comparative adjective often ends with -er, while a superlative adjective ends with -est. However, some comparative adjectives have “more” before them, while some superlative adjectives have “most” before them.
The comparative or superlative form of an adjective depends on the number of syllables in the adjective. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
For more information on comparative adjectives, check out our articles “Clearer or More Clear: Understanding the Proper Usage of Degrees of Comparison” and “Cleverer or More Clever: Which Is Correct?”
It is correct to use the phrase “bigger number” in a statement, though “greater” or “larger number” would be better.
Like other adjectives, we can use a comparative adjective like “bigger” right before a noun. This allows us to describe the noun in comparison to another noun. Naturally, we need quick and efficient ways to describe how one thing is similar to or different from another.
You can use the phrase “bigger number” to discuss two different quantities and identify which is larger. However, keep in mind that using the phrase “bigger number” is only correct when comparing the quantities of two numbers.