"the more" (all the more so, the more things change)

john_riemann_soong

Senior Member
English, Singlish, Chinese; Singapore
"More" is primarily an adjective. How did the phrases "all the more so" and "the more things change, the more they stay the same" come about, which uses it as though it were a noun? I'm a native speaker of English I can't even began to analyse the role of "more" in such sentences. I just know they make sense.

I'm aware of the French origin of the second phrase, but mainly I'm curious how "the more" came to make sense in the first place.
 
  • modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    It's the the that's strange in that it doesn't have the same exact source as the definite article the but goes back to the instrumental case, ðy, of ðæt "that, the," and in here it would be something like "by that much" and refer to how much more or more by what amount.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    You must regard the words the more independently. The combination the ..., the ... is a set phrase (explained by modus.irrealis), whereas the word more is just the comparative of much/many. The "comparative combination" is formed as follows:

    the + comparative of the adjective + , + the + comparative of another/the same adjective

    Other examples:

    The less you do, the more you will lose.
    less is the positive comparative of few; more is the positive comparative of much
    The more difficult (<difficult) it gets, the harder (< hard) you will have to practice.
    more difficult is the positive comparative of difficult; harder is the positive comparative of hard
    The less flexible our customers are, the worse our situation gets.
    less flexible is the negative comparative of flexible; worse is the positive comparative of bad

    It's actually the same with all the more, where (all) the introduces a comparison formed by the comparative of the following adjective. Other examples are all the better; all the worse; all the more helpful ...
     
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