"the... the..." expression meaning


New Member
French - English
I wonder which meaning is more common (or the only true one)?

"The cheaper the hotel, the worse the service."

1. cheaper hotel means/equals worse service.
2. whatever the hotel is cheaper, the service is worse.
3. if the hotel is cheaper, the service is worse.

And, do people more often use this structure ("the... the...") in everyday life? or it's just in the literature/poems!?
  • dadane

    Senior Member
    English (London/Essex)
    The 'the - the' structure is normal: "The more you feed the cat, the fatter it gets", "The older the violin, the better the sound", etc. It is used in speech and, to me, it seems the most natural of all the options in this particular example.

    PS. Are you sure you didn't mean to use 'whenever' in 2.? ;)


    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I don't see much difference in the meaning of the three sentences, aside from the construction of the second one (should be: when the hotel is cheaper..).

    It's a common structure.
    Isn't the corresponding structure "plus... plus..." or "plus... moins..." etc. common in French? There's a thread on it here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=894382

    Edit: Dadane beat me to it!


    New Member
    French - English
    To me, these three meanings are slightly different; at least they are three different sentences. But the second one is more poem-like, and a little sarcastic. "Whatever" refers to the amount being cheap, so it's meaningful. "When" is another word, and it can be considered as a forth meaning!

    another suggestion?
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