More you play, more you could have vs. The more... the more


English, Australia
I'm correcting English compositions written by an Italian at the moment, and am having difficulty in explaining why one should use "the" which the sentence structure "more...more".

Here is what the student has written:

More you play, more you could have the possibility to win.

I've corrected it to:

The more you play, the more you could have the possibility to win.

I don't know how to explain why he should have used "the" before "more".

Thanks in advance!

(I'm also in doubt about whether "the more you could have the possibility to win" makes sense or not, but that's a different matter.)
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suppose that at least for beginners, the rule is just that when we mean that a change in X means a change in Y we include a the and say the more the merrier, the bigger the better etc, and not more merrier or bigger better.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi midget

    Two points...

    I think you'll just have to say that the English idiom is "the more... the more" not "more... more".

    And you're right to feel doubtful about "the more you could have the possibility to win":) I'd say, "The more you play, the greater your chances of winning" or "the more you play, the likelier you are to win".

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Sticking to your first point, I would ask if you need to do more than explain that the idiom is the more you do X, the more you do Y. I can't think of a general rule, except that this is the general idiom for comparatives in English:

    The higher they climb, the harder they fall. I think there is some such common saying.


    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I have heard the "the" dropped - "more you play, more you earn" but I think this is colloquial and wouldn't recommend it to learners.


    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Not a native speaker here (obviously) but I am wondering if the "the" came from a noun having been dropped in each case. I cannot seem to make it "fit" though and it is, even if by some strange alignment of the planets and the stars I am correct this time, a rather moot point really. I seem to recall regarding when learning this expression/form as one of those things you find in any language for which the best explanation is "Because".

    Anyway, I was wondering, would "the more likely to win" pass muster?


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I found this definition helpful in understanding how this structure works, in the first place, because it says that here the functions as an adverb. Who knew?
    the #2 - ADVERB:1. Because of that. Used before a comparative: thinks the worse of you after this mistake. 2. To that extent; by that much: the sooner the better. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
    To my mind, "The more you play, the more likely you are to win" would pass muster.


    Senior Member
    In Old English, the two thes were different forms of the demonstrative that has become the, that, then, and than. One of them was thy, the instrumental case, meaning something like "by that (much)" or "so (much)":

    So (much) more you play, that (much) more likely you are to win.

    Unfortunately I have forgotten what the other one was (the maybe, with long e). Neither the can be omitted because they are not really articles but oblique demonstratives.

    But just as the vowels have been reduced because of destressing, the whole word may eventually go the way of the "e" in "nough said".
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