Double comparative

Today we are sharing with you a very common grammar structure used to express increasing or decreasing returns. This is the double comparative, a phrase composed of two correlative sentences including comparatives, which express that when a particular activity increases, it causes something else to change as a result. See the following examples:

  • The more you eat, the fatter you become
  • The bigger the flat, the more you have to pay for rent.

Double comparatives imply a cause-effect relationship and are often used to stress the importance of doing or not doing certain activity. The basic structure, as you can see is:

The + comparative 1 (comma) the + comparative 2

Comparative 1 would be the cause whereas comparative 2 would be the effect. Looking more closely into the structure, we find the following

The (more / less) + (noun / noun phrase) subject + verb + , + the (more / less) + (noun) subject + verb

There are different ways to form double comparatives:

  • Using comparative adjectives. For instance:
    • The more upset my parents are, the worse I feel
    • The smaller the room, the easier it is to paint
    • The older the car, the more difficult it is to drive
  • Using adverbs, such as
    • The harder you work, the more quickly your salary will increase
    • The more carefully you drive, the safer everyone else feels
  • Using nouns, like in the following examples:
    • The more time you spend with your children, the happier you feel
    • The less petrol your car takes, the less you pollute
    • The more pictures you take, the better your report will be.

Some double comparatives are so commonly used that they have become common idioms, such as

  • The more, the merrier (meaning The more people there are, the merrier everyone will be)
  • The older, the wiser (meaning The older you get, the wiser you become)

We hope you found this useful. Wishing you a nice beginning of the week!

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