The higher is the ratio of the current debt to total debt, the lower is your utilization rate, and consequently the fewer are the financial options available to you and vice-versa.

Is there any rule for such constructions? If this is correct, why is there 'the' before adjectives, higher, lower, fewer.

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Erik Kowal, FumbleFingers, Hellion, ScotM Mar 28 '15 at 18:58

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  • 1
    "the higher" in constructions like this doesn't fit in well with other uses of "the" in English grammar, but it's an old construction that receives much use. See this question. – Peter Shor Mar 27 '15 at 12:35
  • It would be correct if you took out all the "is"s. As for the definite articles, well, that's just a structure we commonly use to state correlative comparisons. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 28 '15 at 10:01

The finite verb "is" is many times ellided (though not necessarily) in such constructs:

Active Grammar Level 3 Without Answers and CD-ROM - Page 99 Mark Lloyd, ‎Jeremy Day - 2011

9 We use two comparatives with the, if one change causes another.

The higher the number of trips made by its staff', the greater its 'carbon footprint'.

See many exercises with solutions here:

English for Academic Research: Grammar Exercises By Adrian Wallwork


Comparatives can either be adjectives or adverbs.

  • Adverb: Please walk faster.
  • Adjective: I bought a faster car.

You have the choice to use either the definite article the, or the particularizing article a.

It is not the English language but common sense and logic that should tell you when to use definite articles and when to use particularizing articles.

  • The man came to my house.
  • A man came to the house.
  • The higher power has spoken.
  • A higher power has spoken.
  • I am a girl asking you to marry me.
  • I am the girl asking him to buzz off.

Which would sound more logical to you?

  1. A cheaper car you buy, a dearer cost you pay for maintenance.
  2. The cheaper a car you buy, the dearer the cost you pay for maintenance.

Sentence 1 is acceptable, when the salesperson presents you with a list of cars and their relative cost of maintenance. By using that sentence, the salesperson is referring to a particular item in the list.

Would you, as the speaker, choose to exaggerate or at least accentuate that there is one and only one way everybody goes up and comes down?

  • The higher you go, the faster you fall.

Or, are you liberal and forgiving and given to your audience that they have a choice of whichever way they could choose to be higher, lower, or faster?

  • A higher status you attain, a faster route will be available for your descent. You can choose any status. A higher status would have more choices available for you to fall. A faster route of descent would certainly be more available than if you were in a lower status.

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