Reading the sentence beginning

Je pris ce rôle d’autant au sérieux que …

I understood its meaning, but couldn’t really make sense of the phrase d’autant in terms of de and autant.

Must we English speakers simply accept d’autant as a locution or does it illustrate some general principle of French grammar?

  • Ceci est d'autant plus vrai que "d'autant" ne se trouve de nos nos jours que dans la littérature. Pour autant que je sache. – AlainD May 27 '18 at 10:46

I suspect d'autant in particular is a locution and not internally analyzed, but it probably originated from a rule that still sometimes rears its head.

That rule is to insert de before qualifying the degree or number of something. One word in which this has become lexicalized is davantage, derived from avantage and also not internally analyzed:

J'en aimerais davantage. I'd like some more.

You can also see this rule in active use when stating the numeric value of a noun:

L'augmentation est de 150 %. The increase is 150%.
But compare: It's an increase of 150%.

I suppose this rule is an extension of using de to link a qualifier to its noun, as in la Fête des mères, understanding the number or degree to be a quality.

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  • Note that this answer, particularly the last part, must be "qualified" as speculative. More insight is always welcome. – Luke Sawczak May 25 '18 at 12:30
  • Thanks for that suggestion, however speculative. I'll look out for that use of de. – justerman May 28 '18 at 12:41

Most of the time there's an origin where it made sense for the word to be used that way, but after a couple centuries of semantic shifts it comes at a little too far-fetched and I think it's easier to just accept them.

Do look into it if you're interested, but there's little chance it will make your learning easier.

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À part des réponses que tu as reçues tu peux consulter le lemme dans Le Littré (en ligne, gratuit) :


Il est vraiment exhaustif:-)!

En particulier, voir (6) et les exemples donnés.

D'autant, de cette quantité, dans la même proportion.

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