correlative comparative and predication

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raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
How would you analyze the boldfaced part of #2 below? Such sentences presumably occur in contexts such as ads.

1.The more you buy, the greater the discounts you receive.

2. The more you buy, the greater discounts you receive.

In #1, "greater" stands in a predicative relation to "the discounts you receive"; it's paraphrasable as "The discounts you receive are (the) greater the more you buy. The copular verb "are" can be treated as omitted in #1.

Does the same predicative relation hold in #2? What about an alternative analysis whereby "greater discounts" stands in a verb-object relation to "receive"? In this connection, consider #3:

3. The longer you work, the more money you earn.
Which kind of relation holds in #3? A predicative or verb-object relation?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    2. doesn’t read well. Why would you omit the second definite article from an established construction?

    The more usual way to say it would anyway be simply: The more you buy, the greater the discount.

    Paired constructions like this are mainly about symmetry — the two halves of the sentence matching or being balanced. So better examples would be: The more money you spend, the more points you earn / The greater the effort, the greater the reward.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    2. doesn’t read well. Why would you omit the second definite article from an established construction?

    The more usual way to say it would anyway be simply: The more you buy, the greater the discount.

    Paired constructions like this are mainly about symmetry — the two halves of the sentence matching or being balanced. So better examples would be: The more money you spend, the more points you earn / The greater the effort, the greater the reward.
    The second definite article is dropped from #2 for the same reason that it is absent in #3.
    "more money" stands in a verb-object relation to "earn." What reasons, if any, prevent the same relation from holding in #2?

    If symmetry is all that matters, #1 is not entirely symmetrical. Unlike your examples, "the more you buy" is rather unlike "the greater the discounts you receive."
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    They’re not entirely comparable. The word discount is countable but money is uncountable, and you couldn’t use the comparative adjective “greater” with it. But with a countable noun and such a comparative, the definite article is used twice in that construction.

    Symmetry is not all that matters. The same basic construction adapts very well to much more complex sentences.

    There’s a lot of very useful info here: Comparative Correlatives: The Bigger the Better
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    They’re not entirely comparable. The word discount is countable but money is uncountable, and you couldn’t use the comparative adjective “greater” with it. But with a countable noun and such a comparative, the definite article is used twice in that construction.

    Symmetry is not all that matters. The same basic construction adapts very well to much more complex sentences.

    There’s a lot of very useful info here: Comparative Correlatives: The Bigger the Better
    Simply put, you are saying any comparative adjectives other than "more" should adopt a predicative analysis, aren't you?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That is NOT putting it simply. :D

    To the best of my knowledge, predicative analysis is to do with philosophy/maths/linguistics rather than grammar.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That is NOT putting it simply. :D

    To the best of my knowledge, predicative analysis is to do with philosophy/maths/linguistics rather than grammar.
    Consider "John is tall" and "John is a student."
    Here, "tall" and "a student" stand in a predicative relation to "John."

    It seems that comparative adjectives other than "more" in the correlative comparative construction are amenable to a predicative analysis, pending counterexamples. That has a lot to do with English grammar, doesn't it?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    More is not a comparative adjective. But in one of its guises as an adverb it comes to the rescue of adjectives that can’t form their comparative and superlative just by adding -er and -est (e.g. useful, more useful, most useful).

    However, I think what you’re tryng to say is that in the correlative comparative construction a normal adjectival comparative, such as greater, always modifies a noun that forms part of the complement in a clause with a stative verb such as “to be”, whereas the word more, as either a comparative adverb or a determiner, has a role in clauses in which the verb takes a direct object. If so, then I agree.

    The greater the problem [is], the more difficult it is to solve
    The more exercise you take, the more easily you’ll sleep​
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    More is not a comparative adjective. But in one of its guises as an adverb it comes to the rescue of adjectives that can’t form their comparative and superlative just by adding -er and -est (e.g. useful, more useful, most useful).

    However, I think what you’re tryng to say is that in the correlative comparative construction a normal adjectival comparative, such as greater, always modifies a noun that forms part of the complement in a clause with a stative verb such as “to be”, whereas the word more, as either a comparative adverb or a determiner, has a role in clauses in which the verb takes a direct object. If so, then I agree.

    The greater the problem [is], the more difficult it is to solve
    The more exercise you take, the more easily you’ll sleep​
    The use of more relevant to the OP and the examples below is not the more as in more intelligent,etc., but as in more books, more money, etc.
    Although it is often treated as a determiner, it is considered an adjective in some dictionaries: More - Definition for English-Language Learners from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

    The longer you work, the more money you earn.
    The harder you work, the more merit points you earn.

    In such constructions, other comparative adjectives such as greater cannot fill such a position and combine with a noun to form an object of a following transitive verb.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Although it is often treated as a determiner, it is considered an adjective in some dictionaries
    So it is, including in the WR dictionary! And I see that Cambridge calls it an adjective in its US section but not in its equivalent UK section. This seems to be yet another AE/BE divide, in terminology at least.

    But I tend to use Oxford as my “bible”, and they classify more as either an adverb or a “determiner & pronoun”.
     
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