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The … the … comparatives

Educational chart explaining the structure and use of correlative comparatives in English using 'the...the...' pattern, with examples for each grammatical form.

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Comparative adjective or adverb

We can repeat the structure the + comparative + subject + verb to describe a cause-and-effect relationship between two things that depend on each other, where the degree of one action affects the degree of another. For example:

  • The healthier you eat, the better you feel. (=If you eat healthier, you feel better.)
  • The harder he works, the more stressed he is. (=If he works harder, he is more stressed.)

Note that when we have the verb be in this structure, we can omit it.

  • The longer the wait, the more agitated the people become. 
  • =The longer the wait is, the more agitated the people become. 

The more/the less + noun

You can also use a noun in the same structure instead of an adjective or adverb.

  •  The more exercise you do, the fitter you get.
  • The less carbohydrates you consume, the healthier you will be.

The more/the less + clause

Or you can use the more/the less + subject + verb instead of using an adjective or noun.

  • The more you read, the wiser you get. 
  • The more you know, the less you need to say. 

The …, the better

We can use the structure the + comparative adjective, the better to express preference in relation to the quantity or quality of something.

  • Please call me soon. The sooner, the better
  • A: ‘Isn’t this fridge too big?’   B: ‘No, the bigger, the better.’