Translating 'More'

'Más' Can Usually Be Used

Mexican restaurant for Spanish grammar lesson
Cuanto más viajo, más como. (The more I travel, the more I eat.). Jimmy Thomas/Creative Commons.

The English "more" can usually be translated as más in Spanish regardless of whether it is functioning as an adverb, adjective, or pronoun.

Three examples of each of those parts of speech, respectively, can be seen in these sentences:

  • Hay más agua en Europa, una luna de Júpiter, que en toda la Tierra. (There is more water on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, than on all of Earth.)
  • Hay más felicidad en dar que en recibir. (There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.)
  • Debes leer más libros. (You should read more books.)
  • Este test es el más difícil de todos los tiempos. (This test is the most difficult of all time.)
  • Nuestra cultura se ha vuelto más comercializada. (Our culture has become more commercialized.)
  • Después de leer esto, seleccionarás más cuidadosamente tu ropa. (After reading this, you will pick out your clothing more carefully.)
  • ¿Quiénes compran más: hombres o mujeres? (Who buys more: men or women?)
  • Quiero un poco más. (I want a little more.)
  • No hay mucho más que hacer. (There is not much more to do.)

Note that when translating from Spanish to English, "más + adjective" or "más + adverb" often is rendered as a word ending in "-er" rather than using "more." For example, más fácil is "easier."

Translating 'More Than'

When "more than" is used in making a comparison between two actions, it is typically translated as más que.

  • Nadie te ama más que yo. (Nobody loves you more than I do.)
  • Las tortugas marinas comen más que las terrestres. (Marine turtles eat more than the ones on land.)
  • Una acción habla mas que mil palabras. (An action speaks more than 1,000 words.)

However, "more than" becomes más de when it is followed by a number:

  • Más de cien perros murieron por la enfermedad. (More than 100 dogs died from the illness.)
  • Detienen a sujeto con más de un kilogramo de marihuana. (They arrested a suspect with more than a kilogram of marijuana.)
  • Si dices más de dos mentiras al día, tienes un problema. (If you tell more than two lies a day, you have a problem.)

Translating 'The More'

The usual way of expressing the phrase "the more" as the subject of a sentence in Spanish is cuanto más:

  • Cuantos más, mejor. (The more the better.)
  • Cuanto más tiene un hombre, más quiere. (The more a man has, the more he wants.)
  • Cuanto más comía, más crecía. (The more I ate the bigger I got.)
  • 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.)

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. Following the typical rules of mood, the indicative is used to refer to what's real, the subjunctive to 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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Erichsen, Gerald. "Translating 'More'." ThoughtCo, Mar. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-more-and-the-less-cuanto-3078175. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, March 29). Translating 'More'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-more-and-the-less-cuanto-3078175 Erichsen, Gerald. "Translating 'More'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-more-and-the-less-cuanto-3078175 (accessed May 27, 2018).