French Comparative Adverbs: How They're Formed

French Comparative Adverbs: How They're Formed

Comparative adverbs express relative superiority or inferiority. Superiority, the idea that something is more or (greater) than something else, is expressed with plus in French. Inferiority, meaning that something is less than something else, is stated with moins. You can also express equality with comparatives, to state that something is "as (great) as" something else; in French, there are two possible equivalents to this: aussi and autant.

French Comparatives

1. In French comparatives, you use stressed pronouns after que, rather than subject pronouns. For example, Il est plus grand que moi >"He's taller than me."
2. Comparative adverbs are most commonly used with adjectives, but you can also use them with adverbs, verbs, and nouns. These comparisons have slightly different constructions for each part of speech. Click in the summary table below for detailed lessons.

Construction of French Comparative Adverbs

Comparisons with

Required word order
Adjectivesplus/moins/aussi + adjective + que + noun/pronoun
plus/moins/aussi + adjective + que + adjective
plus/moins/aussi + adjective + que + temporal adverb
Adverbsplus/moins/aussi + adverb + que + noun/pronoun
plus/moins/aussi + adverb + que + adverb
plus/moins/aussi + adverb + que + temporal adverb
Nounsplus/moins/autant de + noun + que + noun/pronoun
plus/moins/autant de + noun + que + de + noun
plus/moins/autant de + noun + que + temporal adverb
Verbsverb + plus/moins/autant que + noun/pronoun
verb + plus/moins/autant que + pronoun (+ ne) + verb
verb + plus/moins/autant que + temporal adverb

When comparing with adjectives, use plus (adjective) que for superiority, moins (adjective) que for inferiority, and aussi (adjective) que for equality.
Adjective: vert (green)
   plus vert (greener)
   moins vert (less green)
   aussi vert (as green)
Like all adjectives, the adjectives used in comparatives have to agree with the nouns that they modify, and therefore have different forms for masculine, feminine, singular, and plural. The comparative itself, however, is invariable:
Masculine singular
plus vert (greener)
moins vert (less green)
aussi vert (as green)
Feminine singular
plus verte (greener)
moins verte (less green)
aussi verte (as green)
Masculine plural
plus verts (greener)
moins verts (less green)
aussi verts (as green)
Feminine plural
plus vertes (greener)
moins vertes (less green)
aussi vertes (as green)
Note: The above is true for all adjectives except bon and mauvais, which have special comparative forms for superiority.

Types of Comparisons with Adjectives

1. Compare two nouns with one adjective.
David est plus fier que Jeanne.
David is prouder than Jeanne.
Jeanne est moins fière que David.
Jeanne is less proud than David.
2. Compare one noun with two adjectives.
Jean est aussi riche que travailleur.
Jean is as rich as (he is) hard-working.
Jeanne est plus sympa qu'intelligente.
Jeanne is nicer than (she is) smart.
3. Compare an adjective over time.
Jean est moins stricte qu'avant.
Jean is less strict than before.
Jeanne est aussi belle que toujours.
Jeanne is as beautiful as ever.

Note: You can also make an implied comparison to any of the above by leaving out que.
Jean est plus grand.
Jean is taller.
Jeanne est moins fière.
Jeanne is less proud.

When comparing with adverbs, use plus (adverb) que for superiority, moins (adverb) que for inferiority, and aussi (adverb) que for equality.
Adverb: prudemment (carefully)
plus prudemment (more carefully)
moins prudemment (less carefully)
aussi prudemment (as carefully)
Note: The adverb bien has a special comparative form when expressing superiority.

Types of Comparisons with Adverbs

1. Compare two nouns with one adverb.
Jean lit plus lentement que Luc.
Jean reads more slowly than Luc.

Jeanne écrit moins souvent que Luc.
Jeanne writes less often than Luc.
2. Compare one noun with two adverbs.
Jean travaille aussi vite que gentiment.
Jean works as quickly as (he does) helpfully.
Jeanne écrit plus soigneusement qu'efficacement.
Jeanne writes more carefully than (she does) efficiently.
3. Compare an adverb over time.
Jean mange plus poliment qu'avant.
Jean eats more politely than before.
Jeanne parle aussi fort que toujours.
Jeanne speaks as loudly as ever.
Note: You can also make an implied comparison to any of the above by leaving out que.
Jean lit plus lentement.
Jean reads more slowly.
Jeanne écrit moins souvent.
Jeanne writes less often.

When comparing with nouns, use plus de (noun) que for superiority, moins de (noun) que for inferiority, and autant de (noun) que for equality.
Noun: livre (book)
plus de livres (more books)
moins de livres (fewer books)
autant de livres (as many books)

Types of Comparisons with Nouns

1. Compare the amount of a noun between two subjects.

Jean veut autant d'amis que Luc.
Jean wants as many friends as Luc (has).
La France a plus de vin que l'Allemagne.
France has more wine than Germany.
2. Compare two nouns (note that the second noun must also be preceded by de).
Jean a plus d'intelligence que de bon sens.
Jean has more brains than sense.
Jeanne a autant d'amis que d'ennemis.
Jeanne has as many friends as enemies.
3. Compare a noun over time.
Jean connaît moins de gens qu'avant.
Jean knows fewer people than (he did) before.
Jeanne a autant d'idées que toujours.
Jeanne has as many ideas as ever.
Note: You can also make an implied comparison to any of the above by leaving out que.
Jean veut autant d'amis.
Jean wants as many friends.
La France a plus de vin.
France has more wine.

When comparing verbs, use (verb) plus que for superiority, (verb) moins que for inferiority, and (verb) autant que for equality.
Verb: voyager (to travel)
voyager plus (to travel more)
voyager moins (to travel less)
voyager autant (to travel as much)

Types of Comparisons with Verbs

1. Compare a verb between two subjects.
Jean travaille plus que Luc.
Jean works more than Luc (does).
Jeanne a étudié autant que Luc.
Jeanne studied as much as Luc (did).
2. Compare two verbs.*
Jean rit autant qu'il pleure.
Jean laughs as much as he cries.
Jeanne travaille plus qu'elle ne joue.
Jeanne works more than she plays.
*When comparing two verbs, you need:
a) a pronoun referring back to the subject in front of the second verb
b) after plus and moins, the ne explétif before the second verb
3. Compare a verb over time.
Jean lit moins qu'avant.
Jean reads less than (he did) before.
Jeanne étudie autant que toujours.
Jeanne studies as much as always.
Note: You can also make an implied comparison to any of the above by leaving out que.
Jean travaille plus.
Jean works more.
Jeanne a étudié autant.
Jeanne a étudié autant.

Additional Resources

French comparatives and superlatives
Introduction to comparatives
Comparatives with adjectives
Comparatives with adverbs
Comparatives with nouns
Comparatives with verb