How to say 'more' in French: comparatives

On the previous page, we looked at how to translate more in French in phrases such as more coffee, more animals. Here, we look at another common case, when more is used as a comparative.

Difficult case: more tiring work etc

Note that in English, a phrase such as more tiring work could mean "more work that is tiring", or it could mean "work that is more tiring". For now, we're dealing with the first case here: plus de travail fatigant or encore du travail fatigant.

Comparison of adjectives (and adverbs)

In English, the word more is used with an adjective or adverb to make a comparison. This is especially true when the adjective is long (3 syllables or more) and/or is based on a suffix such as -ful, -some etc: so English speakers would say:

more intelligent
more tiring
more helpful
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

rather than intelligenter, helpfuller etc. Adverbs (words generally formed with an adjective plus -ly, and ending in -ment in French) tend to work in the same way: more faithfully, more carefully etc.

In French, a very similar construction is used, involving the French word plus:

more ...=plus ...
more ... than ...=plus ... que ...

For example:

un film plus intéressant
a more interesting film
une ville plus animée
a more lively city
un travail plus fatigant
more tiring work, a more tiring piece of work
il écoute plus attentivement
he listens more carefully
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

Note that sometimes in English there's a choice between e.g. more lively and livelier. In French, there's no choice: the comparative form is always plus ....

With the construction plus ... que ..., just as in English, the thing being compared with can be a person, another noun, another adjective/adverb etc:

un film plus intéressant que le premier
a more interesting film than the first (one)
une ville plus animée que Londres
a more lively city than London
il écoute plus attentivement que moi
he listens more carefully than me1
Feedback Suggest a change / proposez une modification

1. In prescriptive usage, some speakers prefer ...than I do in English. But in French, there's no distinction between the two and no controversy about ...que moi.

 French grammar index
 French-English dictionary
 English-French dictionary

This page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2017. All rights reserved.