14.8.2.4.2 worse = pire & plus mauvais (adjective); pis (adverb)

Bad (mauvais) is a word that seems to cause some trouble, when coming to the comparative. Already in English we have an irregular form. However, the French are even a bit more creative. They have two forms for comparative adjective (pire and plus mauvais) and one form for comparative adverb (pis). Let's have a look at the differences.

Plus mauvais is more often used as pire. While plus mauvais has the more objective meaning of worse, has pire more the meaning of morally bad. Let's have a look at the examples to get things straight.

Examples pire
  C' est encore pire ce qu' il a fait, il l' a vraiment détruite.
C' est encore plus mauvais ce qu' il a fait, il l' a vraiment détruite.
    This is even worse, what he did, he has truely destroyed it.
  C' était pire qu' un crime, c' était un acte barbare.
C' était plus mauvais qu' un crime, c' était un acte barbare.
    This was worse than a crime, it was an act of barbarity.
  Le remède est pire que le mal.
    The medecine is worse than the illness.

Pire is used to describe the judgement of the speaker in a moral manner.

worse in a more objective way
  Il est plus mauvais au tennis qu' elle.
    He is worse in (playing) tennis than she (is).
  Celle-là est plus mauvaise que celle-ci.
    This one over there is worse than the one here.

The same distinction we have with the adverb of bad (mal). In a meaning of morally bad (respectively worse) the comparative is pis. However, pis is not used so often anmore, mostly in some fixed phrases as the following.

Morally worse
  Ça va de mal en pis.
    This is going from bad to worse.
  tant pis
    what a pity
  Tant pis pour vous.
    Tough luck for you.

For all the other cases, when we need a comparative of the adverb mal, we use the regular form.

worse in a more objective way
  Il joue plus mal qu' elle.
  He plays worse than she (does).






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