4

Говорят, что это в самом деле были огромные медведи в два раза больше любого человека!

Говорят, что это в самом деле были огромные медведи вдвое больше любого человека!

I'm a bit fuzzy on when I should use "в два/три/etc раза" and when I should go for "вдвое/втрое/etc".

2

Собирательные числительные (вдвое, втрое, etc.) are a bit more colloquial but totally acceptable in everyday speech and in literature. Both forms are correct and common.

The main difference is that "в X раз" is not limited in the number of times, while собирательные числительные go from 2 to 10. You can say "Акции компании за несколько лет выросли в цене в 12 раз", But you cannot say "в двенадцатеро". In practice only "вдвое и втрое" is widely used, starting with "вчетверо" and up it's more likely to hear and read "в X раз".

Much like in English you can say twice and thrice (and the latter is rarely used) and that's it. After that you just use 'X times", though you can say in some instances that something has doubled, tripled or quadrupled. Again, can only go to four. You of course can go with Xfold as high as you want, but it's rarely used outside of articles and books and it's yet a different form. So realistically after 3 in English "X times" is used.

Also the bears that are twice as large as human are extremely tiny ones. The truly huge ones are 6-8 times bigger. Kodiak and Kamchatka brown bears reach over 650 kilos and 3 meters in height :)

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  • Ooops, I had in mind less-intimidating bears seen in Japan when coming up with this example. The exclamation point at the end may be unwarranted, then. :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jan 6 '19 at 6:04
  • 3 метра - это меньше, чем вдвое больше человека по росту. :))))) But here I remember the anecdote "и это только глаз". – Elena Jan 6 '19 at 7:50
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    We say сложите лист бумаги вчетверо. I think, it is grammatically possible to use it with almost any numeral, but it is inconvenient to say ввосьмеро. Mostly we use вдвое, втрое, вчетверо. – Elena Jan 6 '19 at 8:22
1

«В два/три/etc раза» is a more formal and neutral option:

Рост медведей этого вида в два-три раза превышает человеческий.

«Вдвое/втрое/etc» has a greater emotional content, indicating the significance of the difference, and is more colloquial:

Я вчера такого медведя видел... Он вдвое, а может даже втрое больше любого человека!

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  • "has a greater emotional content, indicating the significance of the difference" - I disagree so I down-vote. "Я вчера такого медведя видел. Он в два раза, а то и раза в три больше любого человека"! - is equally emotional whatever it actually means. – shabunc Jan 6 '19 at 9:48
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    the emphatic contamination or perception thereof may stem from the fact that this form is more characterisic of colloquial language (so i assume) than of the written one – Баян Купи-ка Jan 6 '19 at 13:43
0

If you know the consrtuction with вдвое, втрое, use it in your speech. It sounds really natural and is closer to native speaking.

Whereas there exists

двукратно больше, трёхкратно больше, четырёхкратно больше

and that is really old-fashioned and can hardly be heard nowadays, but will be well-understood by Russian speakers.

В два, три, четыре раза is more neutral.

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