7

もっと本を読みなさい
Read more books
もっと対策をだれか考えてよ
Someone think of some more countermeasures

When I first learnt もっと it was in the context of modifying a predicate e.g. もっと速く = faster. So in the example sentences above I'm unsure whether もっと modifies the noun or the verb. Is it 'read (more books)' or (do more reading) of books.

Can もっと mean 'additional' e.g.

ここにはもっと本がある
There are more books here (compared to elsewhere)

I feel this is wrong. I want to write もっと多くの本 or something like that.

But I also saw this sentence:

もっとお茶はいかがですか

and I can't see what もっと could be modifying here except 'tea'.

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    What do you suppose もっと is doing in 「お茶はもっといかがですか」? – snailboat Dec 27 '16 at 11:28
  • @snailplane I'm not sure, since I only know いかが to mean 'how about?' and I don't see how you can modify that with 'more'. – user3856370 Dec 27 '16 at 11:31
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「もっと」 certainly can modify nouns, but not the nouns used in your examples like 「本{ほん}」、「対策{たいさく}」 or 「お茶{ちゃ}」. You are indeed letting the English translations get in your way of understanding Japanese on a deeper level. (You are not the only one who does this, I assure you. I myself did the same when studying English.)

While "Read more books." may be a valid translation of 「もっと本を読みなさい。」, it is not what the Japanese sentence means to us Japanese-speakers. It means "Read books more." to us. In other words, 「もっと」 modifies the verb 「読みなさい」, not the noun 「本」.

The exact same thing can be said about your other sentences. What word is modifying what word can and should only be determined from the Japanese original, not from the English translations.

"Think of countermeasures more." > "Think of more countermeasures."

"There are books more." > "There are more books"

, etc.

Which one of the pair sounds better and/or more natural in English is completely irrelevant in the discussion of Japanese grammar and vice versa. Some things are always lost in translation.

What nouns can 「もっと」 modify, then? Those are the nouns that can be discussed in terms of degrees, not in terms of quantities. Those nouns include 「右{みぎ}」、「左{ひだり}」、「上{うえ}」、「下{した}」、any one of 「東西南北」, etc. 「もっと右」 = "further right", 「もっと南」 = "further south", etc.

Hope you can see the difference between those nouns above and nouns such as 「本」、「お茶」, etc.

Can もっと mean 'additional'?

No, it can't for the reasons I just explained.

「ここにはもっと本がある。」

"There are more books here (compared to elsewhere)." is just someone's translation. (Yours?) In the Japanese original, 「もっと」 modifies 「ある」, not 「本」.

Finally, a brief talk on what other things 「もっと」 can modify...

・ i-adjectives: 「もっとかわいい子」 ("a cuter girl")

・ na-adjectives: 「もっときれいな子」 ("a prettier girl")

・ verbs: 「もっと食{た}べたい」 ("I want to eat more.")

・ adverbs: 「もっとしっかり勉強{べんきょう}しなさい。」 ("Study harder!")

「もっとお茶はいかがですか。」

In this sentence, 「もっと」 modifies 「いかが」. It can because 「いかが」 is an adverb.

  • For ここにはもっと本がある that was my own sentence and translation. I understand everything you say apart from this. I can't make sense of もっと modifying ある. Is my sentence correct? Existence doesn't come in degrees. It either exists or it does not. Is my sentence wrong or should I just accept that this is a niche case? – user3856370 Dec 27 '16 at 13:54
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    "Existence doesn't come in degrees." ⇒ But ある is a verb. I said, regarding nouns, only the nouns that can be discussed in terms of degrees can be modified by もっと. If you went to a place with 50 books and then went to another place that has 200 books, you can say ここにはもっと本がある. もっと modifies ある, not 本. もっと本 is possible here because it is only part of a sentence. もっと本, however, is not possible as a stand-alone phrase the way "more books" is possible in English. Forget the phrase "more books" for now as it is not found in the sentence ここにはもっと本がある. It is only found in its/your TRANSLATION. – l'électeur Dec 27 '16 at 14:55
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    A phrase that works as a stand-alone would be より多くの本 or もっと多くの本. Those mean "more books". もっと本 does not. I am not talking about a niche case here at all. – l'électeur Dec 27 '16 at 14:55
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    大変いい答えだとは思いますが、「もっと→いかが」は少し厳しいのではないかと思います(「いかが」単体に「もっと」をつけても意味が通らないはず)。解釈が難しいですが、文副詞とするか、「いかがですか」の句が述語相当としてそれにかかっているとした方が説明しやすいかと思います。 – broccoli forest Dec 27 '16 at 15:46
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    @user3856370 Thank you for reading it while I wrote it primarily to the answerer. I said that: his answer is excellent but "もっと modifies いかが" part is hard to accept, as もっと + いかが alone wouldn't make sense. It's still better if he said it is a sentence adverb or いかがですか is a quasi-predicate. Anyway it's hard to parse. – broccoli forest Dec 28 '16 at 3:20

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