• The Bigger they Are, the Harder they Fall Meaning

    One of our English students recently wrote us an email asking about this English idiomatic expression:

    “The sooner, the better.” I would have rather say “the soonest, the best.” Why use a comparative? Are there any other expressions where we use THE + the “ER” form or THE MORE (instead of the MOST) ?

    What our student is referring to is sometimes called a “double comparative.” Some of the most famous are “The more, the merrier,” and “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

    Don’t take it too literally.

    We use the + comparative/the + comparative to show one thing depends on something else:

    The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall Meaning:

    How hard a person falls depends on how big they are. The idea here is that if someone has a lot of money, fame, power, strength, etc. it will more difficult for them to lose those things (fall).

    More Examples English Double Comparatives:

    • The more I study English, the easier it gets.
    • The harder you study, the faster you’ll learn.
    • You can even make your own contradictory/ironic sentences:
    • The more I study, the less I know.
    • The harder I work, the poorer I get.

    “The more, the merrier,” the more people, the merrier (more fun) the party, concert, etc. will be.

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This one is intentionally contradictory/ironic. The idea is that people, governments, politicians, etc. always say they are changing to make things better, but really things never change.

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