Research Paper

Multi-headed comparatives in Portuguese


This paper aims at offering a global picture of the subtype of comparative constructions known as ‘multi-headed comparatives’ (from the fact that they exhibit more than one comparative operator in semantic interdependence). As a prerequisite to the fulfilment of his goal, an attempt will be made to clarify the scope of the notion ‘comparative construction’ and to draw a general typology of such constructions. The boundaries of the notion ‘comparative construction’ are defined by contrasting a “genuine” class of comparative constructions with others that hold some syntactic or semantic resemblance to them. Different typologies will be taken into consideration. As for multi-headed comparatives, even though different examples of these constructions have been identified in the scarce literature on the matter, the discussion on their syntactic patterns and meaning is still embryonic. This paper suggests that the expressive power of these comparatives, which seem to provide a particular strategy of information compression, is higher than has been assumed. Four sub-kinds of multi-headed comparatives are identified, based on meaning differences, namely: multi-headed comparatives with a distributive reading, multi-headed comparatives with a cumulative reading, multi-headed comparatives with a comparison of ‘ratios’ reading, and multi-headed comparatives with a comparison of differences reading. While resorting to some classic English examples, the object language will predominantly be Portuguese.

How to Cite

Marques, R., (2005) “Multi-headed comparatives in Portuguese”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 5(1), p.5-35. doi:







Rui Marques (Faculdade de Letras da, Universidade de Lisboa – Onset-CEL, Alameda da Universidade, 1600-214 Lisboa, Portugal)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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