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The more…, the more…

Two things vary together

tsunami debris
 

 

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THE MORE…, THE…

We use a reduced clause in each part of a The more…, the … expression. The correlative comparative is a paired construction. Each part is syntactically alike. A comma separates the two clauses.

The more the building shook, the more we held on.

The more the wave rose, the faster we ran.

The more we saw, the less we could believe.

The more we looked, the fewer things we found to retrieve.
 

AS MORE, THEN

The meaning varies from cause-effect actions to simply same-time occurrences.  Not every As more, then sentence can be restated as a The more…, the … expression.

As/Because the shaking of the building grew stronger, we held on more.

As/Because the wave rose higher, we ran faster.

As we saw more (destruction), it was harder to believe (what we saw).

As we looked, we found fewer things to retrieve (from the debris).

 

retrieve (v.) – to find something and bring it back
debris (n.) – the pieces of something that are left after it has been destroyed in an accident, explosion  

Related pages   More / -er , farther / further

(Huddleston 13 §4.6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Varying Relationship

Outcome

 

 

 

Expected vs. Unexpected Outcome

EXPECTED OUTCOME

In some expressions, the second variation is expected.  Note that the word, verb, phrase and clause forms are parallel in each part of the expression.  Be is omitted in the reduced construction.

THE + NOUN

The larger the paycheck, the greater the purchase.  noun-noun

The lower the rates, the more the borrowers.

THE + ADJECTIVE

*The stronger, the better(coffee, nations, will)  adjective-adjective

The bigger, the better(toys, cars)  adjective-adjective  

The more, the merrier(people)  adjective-adjective  
 

THE + CLAUSE

The higher they rise, the more they benefit.   clause-clause

The older I get, the more I understand.

The more you give, the more you receive. (love, wealth)

The more you learn, the more your earn.  (education)
 

UNEXPECTED OUTCOME

In other expressions, the second variation is unexpected or contrary.  The word forms should be parallel in each half of the expression. 

THE + NOUN

The larger the paycheck, the higher the tax.

The lower the rates, the fewer the lenders.
 

THE + ADJECTIVE

The stronger, the worse.   (Unclear context, not an expression)

The smaller, the better(computers, phones, microchips)  adjective-adjective  

Less is better.    (a design or architectural concept)

THE + CLAUSE

The higher they rise, the harder they fall.  (politicians, leaders, businessmen)

The older I get, the younger I feel.

The more your take, the more you lose. (love, wealth)

The more I learn, the less I know.

 

The stronger, the better – "Note that in this structure, the word the is not really the definite article— it was originally a form of the demonstrative pronoun, meaning 'by that much'." — (Swan 139.5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Varying Relationship

Specific vs. General

 

 

 

The more expression with count and noncount nouns

SPECIFIC

For some nouns, both a plural and singular forms exists. Expressions that are more specific, tend to use the plural count noun. The is used in the comparative phrasing of each part. A possessive pronoun — my, your, his — is used when speaking more specifically.

COUNT NOUN

The better your education is, the greater your opportunities will be.

The more you plan, the better your experiences.

The more input we have, the better our conversations.

The better we sleep, the more rested our minds).
 

GENERAL

General expressions tend to use the noncount noun or singular noun (but not always).  Proverbs tend to use noncount nouns. A reduced correlative comparative construction omits be verbs.                                                                                        

NONCOUNT COUNT

The better the education, the greater the opportunity.  (reward)

The better the planning, the better the experience.

The more the input, the better the conversation.

The better the sleep, the more rested the mind.

 

The is used in the comparative phrasing of each part, particularly with the more, the greater, the better, the lesser, the fewer, the harder
"Historically this the is not the usual definite article but the fossilised remnant of an Old English instrumental case-form meaning "by so/that much". It came to fall together phonologically with the definite article, but its syntactic distribution still reflects its different origin." (Huddleston 13 §4.5)    

Related page Count / Noncount (both sing. and plural)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Varying Relationship

Alternate Clause Order

 

 

 

Basic vs. Fronted

BASIC

In the basic version of the correlative comparative construction, the subordinate clause is placed last. The initial clause begins with the+noun, or a personal noun. The subordinate clause begins with the more, the greater, the better, the lesser, the fewer, the harder, etc.                                                                              

MAIN (HEAD) CLAUSE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE

You will have greater opportunities

the better the education you have.

 

as you have better/more education.  

The violence becomes worse

the more (the) unemployment increases.

 

as the unemployment increases.   

We are less like to comply

the more he imposes rules.

 

 

FRONTED

More commonly the subordinated clause is placed at the front of the sentence and begins with the. Note the parallel construction of the two parts. This is a scalar comparison. One thing changes as the other changes. The reverse is not necessarily equivalent: The harder they work = the more we pay; The more we pay = the harder they work.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE MAIN (HEAD) CLAUSE

The better the education you have,

the greater  the opportunities you will have. 

The better the education,

the greater the opportunity. (reduced)

The more (the) unemployment increases,

the worse the violence becomes.

The higher the unemployment,

the worse the violence. (reduced)

The more he imposes rules,

the less likely we are to comply. 

The more the rules

the less the compliance. (reduced) 

 

compliance – when someone obeys a rule, agreement, or demand
impose – to force someone to have the same ideas, beliefs, etc. as you

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Focus and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

FOCUS

The more we saw, the more our disbelief. 
Unbalanced

Pop Question  "The more" 
 

The more, the worse.  (?)
Unclear reference

The more rain, the worse flood.  
Missing articles

The more I know, the better job I will get. 
Missing article

SOLUTION

The more we saw, the less we could believe / the more we couldn't believe.   (specific to a person)

The greater the disaster, the more the disbelief.  (general, all)

Use parallel (like) structures in each half of the expression.  

The more the cars, the worse the traffic.
The more the noise, the worse the experience.  

Add nouns to make the topic / subject matter clear.  

The more it rains, the worse the flooding is.  (complete the clause)
The more the rain, the worse the flood/flooding.   (or add the)

This expression requires the article the before the adjective and the noun.  

I will get a better job the more I know.  (basic word order)
The more I know, the better the job I will get.  (fronted clause)
The more you know, the better the job.  (reduced fronted clause)

This expression requires the article the before the adjective and the noun.  

 

*not used

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

The more…, the more!

teeter totter
 

 

Complete the expression.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-12" button.

 

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Related page farther / further

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Practice 2

Expressions & Sayings

 

 

Complete the expression with a relative activity that is logical.

  1. Select the word or words that best complete the sentence.
  2. Compare your response to the answer to the right by clicking the "check" button.

 

13.
  risk (n.) – a dangerous chance

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  verse (n.) – words: a set of lines that forms a part of a song, poem, or a book such as the Bible or the Koran

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