Plus on achète, plus on vend, plus on règle de problèmes, et plus notre cité sera florissante !

I just came across this colloquial sentence that deviates from the usual "plus ..., plus ..." construction. Here, the three-tiered "plus"s as a whole make up the first {cause} part, and the "et plus" forms the second {effect} part.

The way the four "plus"s are connected stands in stark contrast to how it works with the equivalent English construction where "and" is used to connect the 2nd and the 3rd "plus"s.

I think that the cause/effect break is between the 3rd and the 4th clauses, especially given how the present tense is consistently used for the first three clauses ("achète", "vend", "règle") while only the 4th clause has the future tense "sera".

If I'm on the right track with my assumptions, I wonder if this is really how French speakers commonly arrange this multi-layered construction?

  • I don't think it's in contrast to the English. "The more we buy, the more we sell, the more problems we solve, and the more our city will flourish!" – Luke Sawczak Dec 27 '17 at 12:59
  • @LukeSawczak I have a different construction in mind: "The more we buy, the more we sell, and the more problems we solve, {pause} the more our city will flourish!". I don't think you can place "and" between the first and the second part of this construction, just as "the sooner, and the better" never works. Instead: "The more we sell, and the sooner we get it done, {pause} the better." – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 27 '17 at 13:16
  • Indeed — in my version the cause/effect break is between the first and second elements, or between the second and third with some stylistic licence, and the remaining 2–3 are a coordinated result, which works fine with "and". How do we know the original sentence in French doesn't work like that? (The chain of results seems breakable at more than one point to me.) We'd need to find an et plus between just two items. – Luke Sawczak Dec 27 '17 at 13:54
  • @LukeSawczak Do you think that "the cause/effect break" is actually between the 2nd and the 3rd? I myself thought of that possibility, too, but in that case, I think another "break" is needed between the 1st and the 2nd: "Plus on achète, et plus on vend, plus on règle de problèmes, et plus notre cité sera florissante !" – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 27 '17 at 14:05
  • Hence the "stylistic licence" I referred to; you could certainly skip that "and" in English if the break were between 2/3, but it would be ellipsis. – Luke Sawczak Dec 27 '17 at 14:18

Yes, this construction is idiomatic French to describe a causal chain of events.

It is one of the few cases where a comma can be used before et :

Plus on sait, plus on est persuadé qu'on ne sait rien, et plus on est indigné d'avoir pris en vain tant de peine. Augustin Calmet, 1713

Et should only appear before the last statement if the goal is to chain all of them. Otherwise, that would break the chain.

  • At first, I thought: the first three "plus"s are the cause parts: "Plus on achète, plus on vend, plus on règle de problèmes". And only the fourth part "et plus notre cité sera florissante" is the effect part. Paraphrase for the sake of clarity: "As we buy more, as we sell more, and as we solve more problems, {break} our city wil flourish more". Or should it be more like: "As we buy more, as we sell more, {break} we solve more problems, and our city wil flourish more"? What do you think? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 27 '17 at 14:25
  • The main reason I think the "cause/effect break" is between the 3rd and the 4th parts is because for the first three parts, the present tense is consistently used: "achète", "vend", "règle". And only the 4th part has the future tense "sera". This corresponds to the conditional construction "If we do X, Y will happen". Which is why I think the "cause/effect break" at any other position is unlikely. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 27 '17 at 14:32
  • Yes, your first interpretation is very possible here. I overlook the future tense. The second one is not because of the comma before et. – jlliagre Dec 27 '17 at 14:33
  • In my example, if the 1st/2nd clauses were the cause part and the 3rd/4th were the effect part, then how would you rephrase the entire sentence? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 27 '17 at 14:48
  • 2
    Plus on achète et plus on vend, plus on réglera de problèmes et plus notre cité sera florissante ! – jlliagre Dec 27 '17 at 16:05

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