1

The following is taken from (non-auto-generated) subtitles of a documentary. The woman is talking about her worsening eye condition:

Donc, mon médecin a dû opérer plusieurs fois, et sans succès. Mon médecin s'est retrouvé comme à court de solutions. Puis moi, je me suis retrouvée avec... plus beaucoup de vision.

DeepL gives:

So, my doctor had to operate several times, and without success. My doctor ran out of solutions. Then I found myself with... not much vision.


At first, I thought "Je me suis retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision" might mean "I found myself with much more vision". This probably comes from my understanding of the following sentences:

  • Je me suis retrouvée avec plus de vision.
    I found myself with more vision.

  • Je me suis retrouvée avec beaucoup de vision.
    I found myself with a lot of vision.

I'm having trouble understanding how "plus" and "beacoup" (in "plus beaucoup de [qqch]") combine to mean "not much of [something]". "plus beaucoup de" is not an entry in WordReference nor on Wiktionnaire. So, I'm guessing it's not just an expression, but that some other (grammatical?) rules are involved.

Questions:

  1. Are my guesses about that "plus de vision" (= "more vision") and "beaucoup de vision" (= "a lot of vision") correct?

  2. How does "plus beaucoup de [qqch]" mean "not much"? Is it merely an expression that I have to memorize? Or are there other rules involved, here, that might (for example) produce other related "expressions"?

  3. Could the Wiktionnaire page help me realize that "plus beaucoup" means "not much any longer"? (I don't see an entry that seems to suggest this?)


EDIT: MORE QUESTIONS (to help clear up my confusion around "plus beaucoup").

  1. A commenter suggested that, in "plus beaucoup", the word "beaucoup" is modifying "plus"; and that when beaucoup is used as a modifier in this way, the meaning is that it is implying that the negation isn't complete (there is some left, instead of there is none left any longer).

    If I continue this logic, then I want to compare the following two sentences:

     i) Je me suis retrouvée avec plus de vision.
     ii) Je me suis retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision.
    

    4a) If (ii) really is "beaucoup" modifying "plus", then how come (i) means "I found myself with more vision" instead of "I found myself now without vision" (or, equally, "I found myself no longer with vision") ?
    4b) .. and how does "beaucoup" (usually meaning "a lot") take on the meaning of "nearly/almost" (as in "I found myself now nearly without vision", or "I found myself almost no longer with vision") ?

  2. Can you give me other example sentences where "plus" is modified by an adverb, in a similar way as "plus beaucoup de"? e.g. is "plus un peu de" possible?


  1. Does "beaucoup plus de" mean anything? (ie, switching the locations of the two words beaucoup and plus)

  1. A different commentator suggested that "plus beaucoup de" means "not much any longer". I notice that this is similar to the ne.. plus negation used around a verb: "Je mange de la viande" = "I eat meat". "Je ne mange plus de la viande" = "I don't eat meat any longer".

    In this view, it sounds like plus is modifying beaucoup:

    • "Je me suis retrouvée avec beaucoup de vision" = "I found myself with a lot of vision"
    • "Je me suis retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision" = "I found myself with not any longer a lot of vision".

    It is admittedly confusing to me that there is no "ne" in "plus beaucoup", and it is surprising to me that "plus" (meaning not .. any longer) can be applied to adverbs, when I've only seen it (as a beginner) being applied to verbs.

    7a) Can "plus" be inserted in front of any adverb of quantity to make that adverb mean not [adverb] any longer? Can you give me examples of this? Or, can you show me other examples where plus (meaning not .. any longer) is applied to things that aren't verbs?

    7b) And would it be incorrect to add the ne, as in "Je me suis retrouvée avec ne plus beaucoup de vision"?

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  • 1
    Plus is a tricky word indeed. I'd translate your bolded words as "not much vision left". What about reading those two qeustions/ answers about plus "Plus" vs "un peu plus"? and When does one pronounce the 's' in plus?, although the last one might not seem related to you the accepted answer will tell you a lot about plus.
    – None
    Sep 4 at 11:06
  • This one as well, plenty of questions around plus, it is tricky for a learner!
    – None
    Sep 4 at 11:13
  • @None thanks for curating these "plus" questions. sometimes it's difficult for me, when i'm in the middle of my confusion, to think of searching for the obvious. (i searched for "beaucoup" in WR and Wiktionaire and French.SE .. but not "plus"!)
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 11:15
  • It can't be obvious, it's not something that will come easily to mind until you have encountered the problem at least once. This answer to a specific concrete question will probably give you a good insight on the subject, and I'm sure it took a lot of thought and time to organise and write.
    – None
    Sep 4 at 11:23
  • 1
    "par ellipse" means some words are not expressed. You can read the original sentence as je me suis retrouvée à n'avoir plus beaucoup de vision (il ne me restait plus beaucoup de vision). The plus here is part of ne... plus. Je n'ai plus de XXX → "I have no XXX left". I personally would no go with "no longer" here. It is not a question of time here but of quantity. Je ne mange plus de viande → I no longer eat meat. Je n'ai plus de viande → I have no meat left.
    – None
    Sep 4 at 17:50
2

Considering there is already an exhaustive answer going through the various meanings of plus on this site I will only try to clarify the meaning of the sentence in OP's question:

Puis moi, je me suis retrouvée avec... plus beaucoup de vision.

I Plus de...

First let's point out this is spoken language, it is correct but colloquial, other ways to express the sentence could be:

  • Puis moi, je me suis retrouvée à n'avoir plus beaucoup de vision.
  • À la fin il ne me restait plus beaucoup de vision.

So plus here is part of the negation ne...plus. As such it can be used in a colloquial way on its own, part of the sentence being omitted.

  • Je voulais me faire un sandwich mais... plus de pain!

In this last sentence we can consider that il n'y a (or je n'ai plus) has been omitted (je n'ai plus de pain/il n'y a plus de pain1).

In order to further clarify the matter let's compare this plus in a different example.

  • a) Je ne mange plus de pain parce que je suis allergique au gluten.

  • b) Je n'ai pas eu le temps de faire les courses et je n'ai plus de pain.

    a) is about a similar action compared then and now.
    b) compares quantities, a certain quantity of something vs the absence/disappearance of this something.

II The role of beaucoup in OP's sentence.

Here beaucoup is an adverb that modifies plus. Instead of it having completely disappeared, there's still some left but not much. So the lady who is speaking has lost some of her vision but still has some left. And I think DeepL's translation would have been clearer as: "Then I found myself with... not much vision left"2.

III Additional comments

1. When one reads plus de pain it is impossible to know what is meant without context ("more bread" or "no more bread"?). It isn't a problem when speaking since it is pronounced differently: [plys] (as in Je veux plus de pain) vs [ply] (as in je me suis retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision).

2. Where beaucoup is placed changes the meaning of the sentence. Let's consider :

  • a) Je me suis retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision.

  • b) Je me suis retrouvée avec beaucoup plus de vision.

    a) [ply] She's lost a certain amount of vision.
    b) [plys] She's gained a certain amount of vision.


1 I have/there's no bread left.
2 I suggest another translation: "I ended up having not much vision left".

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  • this clarified things a great deal... but not completely -- sorry for continuing to ask for clarification! but you really did try to identify the different areas that were confusing me, and i appreciated that you wrote carefully about them.
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 22:22
  • my qstns: 1) how do the words "retrouvée à n'avoir plus beaucoup .." get shorted into "retrouvée avec plus beaucoup"? as user LPH observes, i would expect "à n'avoir" ("to not have") to be replaced with sans ("without"), instead of avec! 2) can you think of one more example sentence, that uses ellipses of ne..plus, that deletes the ne but replaces it with a preposition (like "sans" or "avec" or maybe a different preposition)? this will help me feel more familiar with the ellipses that happened with "avec plus beaucoup...". (i really appreciated you "plus de pain!" example, though)
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 22:25
  • @silph retrouvée à n'avoir plus beaucoup means the same as "retrouvée avec plus beaucoup* avec is induced by the use of retrouvée, having a different verb (avoir) the construction is different. Avec plus beaucoup de vision: comparing quantities à n'avoir plus beaucoup de vision: comparing a state (I would not say an action here as in my "pain" example). It's spoken language, notice the "...." after avec, avec is linked to the preceding verb, and we're left to look at "plus (beaucoup) de".
    – None
    Sep 5 at 6:43
  • @silph Wanted to add that although it is colloquial "avec plus beaucoup de" has plenty of hits in a search engine. Something else: ne is not replaced by a preposition, I'll try to see how you got there (what I said to take you there) avec (or sans) is a consequence of using se retrouver. It's not avec plus beaucoup de it's just plus beaucoup de.
    – None
    Sep 5 at 6:58
  • for some reason, i understand how to go from "je n'ai plus de pain" to just "..plus de pain!", but the ellipses from "retrouvée à n'avoir plus beaucoup de vision" to "retrouveé avec plus beaucoup de vision" is confusing to me. it could just be my lack of familiarity with the verb se retrouver, or with the usage of avec, etc. i'll mark your answer as accepted because it clarifies a great deal for me; and might help me the next time i might see ne .. plus in a shortened form that deletes ne.
    – silph
    Sep 5 at 7:04
1

"Plus beaucoup" means "not much any more", or "not any longer" (Macmillan).

In the present usage, the Wiktionnaire calls this word an adverb, but the TLFi calls it just a particle.

"Plus" is a tricky word as it can be an adverb of quantity, a preposition that has the meaning of addition, and finally a negative particle ((TLFi) I. − Adv. de quantité — II. − Prép. ou subst. masc. marquant l'addition — III. − Particule négative.). The second and the third can be confused with one another.

(TLFi)
III . − Particule négative. Pas/non/ne... plus
B . − [Valeur négative, servant à marquer la cessation d'une action, d'un état]
Anton. encore, toujours. Ne... plus; ne... presque plus; ne... plus guère*; ne... plus du tout*, ne... plus longtemps*, ne... plus rien.
1 . [Par rapport à l'avenir, sert à marquer la cessation de ce qui est] Désormais... ne pas. Ne plus savoir que faire; ne... presque plus, ne... plus guère*, ne... plus du tout
♦ Finis-la, ton histoire, et qu'on n'en parle plus (Péguy, Myst. charité, 1910

The given definition is given as a general guide towards the sense because the particular particular construction involved is missing in the dictionary. It is not mentioned in the Wiktionnaire either.

  • I don't have the time any more.
    Je n'ai plus le temps. (À un certain moment dans le passé, alors que jusque là j'avais le temps, cela a changé, et depuis je n'ai jamais le temps.)

  • I don't have much money any more.
    Je n'ai plus beaucoup d'argent. (Par le passé j'avais de l'argent mais maintenant j'en ai peu.)

With exactly the same meaning, "plus" is used in a noun group without the particle "ne", and beginning with "sans plus de". You will notice that the phrase "avec plus beaucoup de… " is not found. Is only found "sans plus beaucoup de…".

The point here is that colloquially people will use "avec" whereas the standard word is "sans", without the least bit of a change in meaning; the word is exactly the contrary, which is a staggering fact. This shows that the trickiness of the word is not the sole problem of foreign learners. I have no reference for that, it is just a fact that I realize now, but of which I feel quite certain. Here are a few cases of use of the "right" form. (It is literary form and it is somewhat rare.)

(ref. 1991) Dès lors on peut bien lui expliquer, dans son entourage, qu'Antenne 2 est « une télévision arriérée, sans équilibre , sans vrais projets et sans plus beaucoup de talents » , ou que l'expérience Hachette sur la Cinq était perdue d'avance

(ref. 1971) J'ai lutté , je me suis défendu , je suis un vieux lion sans plus beaucoup de dents , mais mes rugissements , il a bien fallu qu'ils les entendent !

(ref. 1935) e serai quelque part , « sous les ombres myrteux » , comme dit notre grand ami immortel qu'Albert relit en ce moment , et sans plus beaucoup de substance sur mes os bien nettoyés.

(ref. 1981) …une certaine simplification dans la théorie orthodoxe moderne, sans plus beaucoup de sensibilité aux antinomies qui sont ici en cause ( et que respectait Serge Bulgakov , par exemple).

(ref. 1990) De ceux qui, les plus sévères, jugent Ventadour comme un nouveau Palais idéal du Facteur Cheval, sans plus beaucoup de vérité patrimoniale , ou des autres , les plus conciliants , qui jugent essentiellement le dynamisme et la réussite d'une action sociale, qui a tort, qui a raison ?

The translation "not much vision" is essentially correct; the comparison with the past (any more) is missing but it is evident that what is meant is that the level of the vision is low in comparison to what it used to be.

Note Although this form would seem to elicit such forms as "sans plus trop de…" and "sans plus assez de…", they are not found. I, myself, would find them natural.

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  • a) i notice that in each of the three bolded lines in the TLFi quote, plus your two examples, each use "ne". but there isn't a "ne" in "Je me retrouvée avec plus beaucoup de vision", so i'm a little unsure on how to apply your answer to that sentence? b) is "plus" in "plus beaucoup de" an adverb of quantity, a preposition with the meaning of addition, or a negative particle?
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 15:01
  • maybe another clue to my confusion: i'm surprised that "plus beaucoup" means "not much any more ". I understand that "Je ne mange plus de la viande" to mean "I don't eat meat any longer", but I understand that because a) there is a ne..plus, and b) it is surrounding a verb. Here we have "not" and "any longer" applying to .. beaucoup (not a verb!), and .. without a "ne". i don't think i've ever seen this before! what are the rules for "plus" modifying another adverb like "beaucoup"? are there other examples; can "plus" modify any adverb in this way?
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 15:47
  • would it be incorrect to say "Je me suis retrouvée avec ne beaucoup plus de vision" or "Je me suis retrouvée avec ne plus beaucoup de vision"?
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 15:48
  • or indeed, if "plus beaucoup" means "not much any longer", am i allowed to say "Je mange plus de la viande" (leaving out the ne), or "Je plus mange de la viande" (placing the plus before the verb, the same way that ne is before beaucoup in plus beaucoup)?
    – silph
    Sep 4 at 15:50
  • 1
    @silph Many of the sentences you submit in previous comments are impossible: Je me suis retrouvée avec ne beaucoup plus de vision, Je me suis retrouvée avec ne plus beaucoup de vision, Je plus mange de la viande. One is possible but has a meaning which is probably not the one you expect: Je mange plus de la viande. You likely want: Je mange plus de viande.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 4 at 21:45

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