Usage

I would say "often" means roughly 50-60% of the time, whereas "more often than not" means 75-95% of the time, & is closer in meaning to "almost always."

Is that really so? It doesn"t seem logical (but then, language rarely is).I bởi vì not trust the dictionary I usually use, and I"d like khổng lồ get an opinion of native speakers who at the same time studied vuialo.net in a university.

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If it is indeed the case, is it the same with "more rarely than not" & "rarely"? How productive sầu is this model exactly?


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edited Jul 31 "14 at 9:25
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Matt E. Эллен♦
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asked Jul 29 "14 at 21:05
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OlgaOlga
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It happens more often that it does not happen.

50.000001% and over

There is no official percentage. It just happens more often than it does not happen. So at least 50.000001%.

As pointed out in the comments, often can be any percentage that implies somewhat frequently - & depends on the circumstances.


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edited Jul 31 "14 at 9:02
answered Jul 29 "14 at 21:08
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RonanRonan
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The literal meaning of more often than not is in more than một nửa of cases. As this is so obvious & no other precise meaning is well known, you can expect that at least some people will use it in precisely this sense. I guess the need for more often than not arose because almost all other expressions that describe a frequency or probability are relative sầu lớn some normal or expected frequency or probability và are not related to lớn any fixed percentage.

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On the other hvà, I am sure a lot of people use the expression figuratively as a longer, more impressive sầu alternative to lớn often, meaning a somewhat higher probability than often.

I won"t try to interpret this, but in the Google corpus, much more often than not - which I think most people will understand literally - accounts for (not much) less than 1% of uses of more often than not.


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edited Jan 17 "15 at 14:15
answered Jul 30 "14 at 2:44
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The "more often than not" locution is useful for the simple reason it"s a "short và dirty" way of describing an aspect of reality without having khổng lồ resort to lớn cold, hard statistics.

Now if a colleague in a math-driven, statistic-oriented work environment asks you how often Joe Public votes in local elections, she expects an accurate statistic from you, & not a "more often than not" answer. In "normal" conversation with your neighbor, however, he might, out of curiosity, ask you

How often do you wind up washing your car on Saturday?

In answering your neighbor"s question you are permitted khổng lồ say,

More often than not.

Very rarely would a neighbor say in return,

I don"t agree with you. I"ve been keeping traông xã of what day of the week you wash your oto for the past two-and-a-half years. In point of fact you have sầu washed your car on Saturday only 45 percent of the time, on Sunday 48 percent of the time, và on various other days of the week the remaining seven percent of the time. Clearly, you bởi vì not wash your car on Saturday more often than not. What a liar you are!

Only severely neurotic, anal-retentive types are going khổng lồ bust your chops about not being precise about trivial things such as what day of the week you wash your oto. Normal people don"t ask you about the statistical probability that you"ll be washing your car on Saturday this week. If you tell them, "More often than not, I wash my car on Saturday, so chances are good I"ll be doing so this Saturday," then you"ll likely believe sầu them.

As an interesting aside, in American jurisprudence the burden of proof in a criminal case is different from the burden of proof in a civil case. Before the jury deliberates the fate of the accused in a murder trial, for example, they are instructed by the judge lớn find the defendant guilty only if the evidence proves the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge does not, I assure you, say to lớn the jury,

If your level of doubt is between one percent & 11 percent, then your verdict should be "guilty," but if your cấp độ of doubt is 12 percent or higher, then your verdict should be "not guilty."

"Beyond a reasonable doubt" cannot be decided on a sliding scale. A reasonable doubt is just that: reasonable, và not mathematically precise. An unreasonable doubt in a fairly clear cut murder trial, for example, would be if a juror insists that even though there were several witnesses who swore under oath they saw the defendant take aim at the victyên and shoot him six times in the chest from a distance of less than 10 feet, this juror feels strongly that the real shooter, an expert marksman, was perched on the roof of an 80-story building, and he"s the one who killed the victyên ổn, not the defendant! This, in spite of there not being one single piece of evidence that there was a shooter other than the defendant. Now that"s unreasonable.

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On the other h&, in a civil trial the burden of proof is quite different. In order for a judge or jury lớn find a defendant guilty, that guilt must be proved by a preponderance of evidence. Despite the inappropriateness of using statistics, even in such an important & formal setting as a civil trial, judges have been known to lớn say,

The preponderance of evidence for either guilt or innocence can be as little as 51 percent khổng lồ 49 percent in favor of one or the other. As long as you find the evidence is more in favor of guilt than innocence, then you have sầu to lớn find the defendant guilty. If on the other h&, as long as you find the evidence is more in favor of innocence than guilt, then you have sầu to lớn find the defendant innocent.

We can forgive the judge, I suppose, for giving the impression that two percent more (or less) constitutes a preponderance of evidence toward guilt or innocence. In a sense, the judge"s attaching a number lớn evidence is unwise since jurors essentially weigh evidence, not on a literal scale but on a mental scale with which, using their own criteria for attaching weight khổng lồ evidence, they attempt to lớn determine guilt or innocence.

As a rhetorician, I must insist that in both a criminal trial và a civil trial, the role of persuasion is--or at least can be--equally important. In the hands of a bright and persuasive lawyer, if a crucial piece of evidence or a line of argument is packaged in such a way that it becomes compelling, moving, & yes, persuasive sầu, that evidence can tip the balance in favor of guilt or innocence.

In other words, the packaging of proof can sometimes have an inordinately large effect on how evidence is processed by a group of supposedly neutral and fact-finding jurors. Statistics are rarely by themselves persuasive sầu. By using a "more often than not"locution at the right time and in the right way can, more often than not, prove sầu khổng lồ be more powerful than cold and bare statistics.