I'm kinda ok with basic "The more..., the less..." type of sentences, like

The more you think about it, the less likely you are to take action,

but what if I want to say next:

The more repetitive this action becomes, the less sincere it... er... becomes?

Something is wrong here. Replacing "becomes" with "is" in any or both parts doesn't make it better I think. Or should I give up on this and paraphrase it as "Repetitiveness of this action makes it less sincere"?

This particular sentence is not very important but I would come up to this question anyway sooner or later because I often say things in that way in my native language.

  • 1
    There's nothing grammatically wrong with repeating a verb with this sort of contrast (or comparison). It's just considered to be better style not to repeat the same word too soon. Some people are happy with 'The older you get, the wiser you get' while some prefer 'The older you get, the wiser you become'. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 13:59
  • 3
    Yes. Get is what I'd use. Become is longer and falutes higher, and two syllables spoils the parallel effect. That's the reason for get. It's a "small verb", an auxiliary, a generalized change-of-state marker, a pro-verb. It gets used a lot. It's a busy verb. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 14:04
  • @JohnLawler wow, that was a very helpful comment, especially the point about the parallel effect, even if I don't know a thing in linguistics yet and didn't understand some words as falute. Your comment made me love the word "get"! I habitually translate a word from my language to English "become", but now I see that I should think about alternative "get" more often.
    – Antonina
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:08
  • When I learned Spanish the thing that bothered me most was that there was no single word or construction with a general inchoative sense, like get. To talk about getting tired, getting angry, getting up, getting arrested, getting to the end, you have to use a lot of different constructions or words. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:44
  • @JohnLawler, yes, that's one of the good sides of English. My native language belongs to Slavonic group and the situation is pretty same here. All of your examples are just different verbs in our language. I think that a person that doesn't know English wouldn't even imagine that all these things may be said in ways that use the same verb.
    – Antonina
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 22:07

3 Answers 3


The sentences with is and becomes have different connotations. Becomes suggests a continuum with numerous possible points of moreness along it. Is suggests taking a measure at a single point of reference.

Obviously, since the term more and less (or any other comparatives) are used, there have to be at least two points of reference for each criterion. But becoming, as well as the suggested alternative, getting, give a greater sense of a continuous progression in both directions.

  • It was a bit hard for a sixteen-year-old non-native speaker to fully understand your comment, but I hope that I've still dealed with it as it sounds very interesting. As I've understood, it's always better to use different words, as you say - points of reference in this type of sentences. Moreover, become is quite better in this situation because the word "is" doesn't show the possibility of change, this word is, like, takes a photo of something and shows its state at this very moment, when "become" shows how one quality depends on changes of another one, like variables in mathematics, right?
    – Antonina
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:49
  • The is forms are not incorrect or even illogical. But some other verbs convey the increasing or decreasing values a little more clearly. Get and become suggest change. Is and other verb like seem don't mean there is no change, but they do not emphasize it.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 10:52
  • now I certainly got it, thank you so much for clarifying!
    – Antonina
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 7:35

Although grammatically (I think) it's correct, personally I might change it.

The more repetitive this action becomes, the less sincere it is.

But you could very well say, "The smaller an object gets, the denser the object gets", though again it would sound better as "...the denser it becomes."


The "becomes" in the second clause could be implied - "The more repetitive this action becomes, the less sincere."

I'm a fan of using the least amount of words possible. This way seems more elegant.

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