J'ai rencontré la phrase :

Moins que jamais ces pays ne sont prêts à renoncer à une intégration nucléaire.

Pourquoi moins que et pas plus que ? Est-ce une faute ?

  • 1
    In languages other than English the negative alignment of a phrase is much stronger without incurring problems like the double negative. Hence "il n'y a ni rien ni personne qui ..." My reading is thus that as they are not ready, the preferred comparative is the negative one.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:32
  • @LukeSawczak Merci pour le commentaire. Je comprends mieux maintenant:-)!
    – Dimitris
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


Not a mistake!

It is a case of expletive ne that non native French speakers often confuse with a double negative.

A real double negative would have been:

Moins que jamais, ces pays ne sont pas prêts...

Moins que jamais (less than any other circumstance) is the negation of the adverbial expression plus que jamais (more than any other circumstance, i.e. more than ever). There is no less than ever in English though.

The ne in ne sont prêts has no strong negative meaning. The sentence might have been written:

Moins que jamais, ces pays sont prêts...

but that would have been less elegant. Moins que jamais is kind of a shortcut of aujourd'hui moins que jamais so another way to write the sentence that provides an explanation to the ne presence can be:

Aujourd'hui, ces pays ne sont pas prêts à renoncer à une intégration nucléaire, et c'est encore plus le cas que ça ne l'a jamais été.

Should have the sentence started with plus que jamais, it would have read:

Plus que jamais, ces pays sont prêts à renoncer à...

the opposite of the original meaning.


"moins que jamais" is clearly not a common use for "jamais". it might not be a mistake on the grammatical side, but it sounds terrible.

  • Sounds terrible? Racine, Boileau, La Bruyère, Mirabeau, Voltaire and others would turn in their grave...
    – jlliagre
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 9:55
  • this sounds terrible in the current usage of French, very old fashioned. But yes, it depends if the OP is looking for this kind of dated style
    – Ty Kayn
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 9:29
  • @TyKayn You are right insofar as this form is used very little in comparison. D'ailleurs, cette différence est bizarre, plutôt arbitraire ; quel critère existe pour trouver cette forme désagréable ? Il faut avoir l'esprit assez « flexible ».
    – LPH
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 14:06

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