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'The More' and 'the Less'

A Common Use for 'Cuanto'


The usual way of expressing the phrase "the more" as the subject of a sentence in Spanish is cuanto más. For "the less," cuanto menos is used. (Cuanto can also be used in its plural and feminine forms.) Here are a few examples:
  • Cuantos más, mejor.
    The more the better.
  • Cuanto más tiene un hombre, más quiere. (Benjamín Franklin) The more a man has, the more he wants. (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Cuanto más comía, más crecía. The more I ate the bigger I got.
  • Cuanto menos hables mejor. The less you talk the better.
  • Cuanta más televisión ven los niños, más comida basura toman. The more television children watch, the more junk food they eat.
  • Cuanto más tenga en consideración las experiencias y opiniones personales del compañero, más va a aprender. The more consideration you have for the experiences and personal opinions of your partner, the more you will learn.
  • Cuantas menos personas respondan a ese correo, menos probable es que continúen enviándolo. The fewer people that respond to that mail, the less likely it is they will continue sending it.
In English, "the more" is often used twice as part of a duplicative construction, e.g., "the more you know the more you can do." In Spanish, this duplication is not used. Simply use más for the second part of the sentence: Cuanto más sepa, más se puede hacer.

Either the subjunctive or indicative mood can be used after cuanto más or cuanto menos. Following the typical rules of mood, the indicative is used to indicate reality, the subjunctive to indicate possibility.

Some speakers substitute mientras, contra or entre for cuanto. Such usage is more common in speech than in writing and can be considered informal or substandard in some regions.

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