Grammar Lesson 6

Double Comparatives

The sooner, the better. 

To say that as one thing changes, another thing also changes, we can use sentences like: 

• The better the joke (is), the louder the laugh (is).

• The longer Sue stays in Canada, the less likely she will ever go back to England.

• It almost seems that the more expensive the wedding, the shorter the marriage!


The more you study, the more you learn.
The more time you take, the better the assignment you turn in.
The less money I spend, the less I have to worry about saving.
The less you worry about the others, the less they will bother you.




As you can see from these examples, the format of double comparatives is as follows:

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

Double comparatives with 'more' and 'less' can be used with adjectives in the same way. In this case, the structure places the comparative adjective first:

The + comparative adjective + (noun) + subject + verb, the + comparative adjective + it is + infinitive

The easier the test is, the longer students will wait to prepare.
The faster the car is, the more dangerous it is to drive.
The crazier the the idea is, the more fun it is to try.
The more difficult the task is, the sweeter it is to succeed.

These forms can be mixed up as well. For example, a double comparative might begin with a more / less plus a subject and then end in a comparative adjective plus the subject.

The more money he spends with her, the happier he becomes.
The less Mary thinks about the problem, the more relaxed she feels.
The more the students study for the test, the higher their scores will be.



You can also reverse the above by beginning with a comparative adjective and ending with more / less plus a subject and verb or noun, subject and verb.

The richer the person is, the more privilege he enjoys.
The happier the child is, the more the mom can relax.
The more dangerous the amusement park ride is, the less management worries about making a profit.



Double comparatives are often shortened in spoken English, especially when used as a cliche. Here are some examples of typical cliches using double comparatives.

The more the merrier
The more people there are, the merrier everyone will be.

Double comparatives can also be turned into commands in the imperative form when recommending certain actions:

Study more, learn more.
Play less, study more.
Work more, save more.
Think harder, get smarter.

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