French Grammar Explained /

The comparative II

Ton gâteau est bon.
Your cake is good.
Ma soeur chante bien.
My sister sings well.
Look at the highlighted words here, do you understand them?
Yes, the first one is good and the second one is well.
That's correct! In grammar terms, we call bon an adjective, and bien an adverb.
Now, have a look at those examples:
Ton gâteau est bon, mon gâteau est meilleur.
Your cake is good, my cake is better.
Ma soeur chante bien, Sia chante mieux.
My sister sings well, Sia sings better.
Can you tell me what's going on here?
Hm... I guess we're comparing two things: a cake and the ability to sing between two people.
Exactement ! Annnnd... what do you notice?
We cannot say plus bon and plus bien!
Parfait !
When bon and bien are used in the comparative, they become irregular:
plus bon(s)
plus bonne(s)
plus bien
But wait a minute! They both mean better in English, so how can I know which one to use?
Remember when I said one was an adjective and the other an adverb?
Well, this is how you'd know. Adjectives and adverbs do not have the same function:
- an adjective (like bon) is used to give more details on a noun or another adjective:
How is my cake? Better!
- an adverb (like bien) is used to give more information on a verb or another adverb:
How does she sing? Better!
And what if I want to say that my French is worse than yours?
Then you can use one of these:
plus mauvais
Mon français est plus mauvais que le tien.
My French is worse than yours.
Mon français est pire que le tien.
My French is worse than yours.
Is that the same thing?
It sure is! Easy, n'est-ce pas ?
We'll see about that, let's practice now!