I have used the sentence ‘In general, the doctors weren’t all the much better.’ in an article I’m writing; to me it sounds perfectly well, but to my advisor, it didn’t. Is it grammatically and idiomatically correct, and if so, how can I explain the grammar behind it?

  • You're close. It should be the doctors weren't all that much better. – deadrat Jan 13 '17 at 9:14
  • all the much better is definitely not idiomatic. Anything that wants to modify an "article + comparative" will have to come before the article. E.g. so much the better, any the less. If the thing you are writing is scholarly (i.e. formal), were not much better should do. – Catomic Jan 13 '17 at 9:26

The following idiomatic expression is used to convey a different meaning from what you are probably suggesting. You should probably say...."In general the doctors were not (so) much better"

All the better/so much the better:

  • used to say that something makes a situation, experience, etc., even better than it was:
    • My daughter loves taking care of children. If she can earn money by doing it, so much the better!

(M-W) (Cambridge Dictionary)

Note: in your sentence "better" is an adjective, while in the idiomatic expressions "the better" is a noun.

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  • Thank you for your answers. It would seem I wrongly assumed you could add modifiers between the article and noun, but that obviously made the expression sound strange. As I understand you, the expressions are either ‘all the better’ or ‘so much the better’; one cannot use ‘much’ with ‘all the better’. – Canned Man Jan 13 '17 at 10:02

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