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Because of this recent question I was wondering whether there are differences when it comes to using ~ば ~ほど when it comes to change-in-state and action verbs in ~ている. Here is an example of what I am talking about:

患者になればなるほど自尊心を失う。
The more you become a patient, the more self worth you lose.(?)

患者になっていればいるほど自尊心を失う。
The longer you are a patient, the the more you lose self worth.(?)

These are just sentences I came up with, and maybe the translations are not accurate. But assuming they are, the first sentence doesn't make much sense. It's not possible to do something "more" when something is instantaneous. なっている refers to a state, not an actual event or action. The moment you become a patient doesn't really have a defined time frame.

On the other hand, I feel like verbs with duration are difficult to use with ~ていれば ~いるほど. For example:

食べていればいるほどご飯が寒くなる。
The longer you eat, the colder your food gets. (?)

Does this sentence work? If it does, can ~ていれば ~いるほど mean something like "the longer you are performing X, the more Y" when used with action verbs?

So can instantaneous verbs never be used in the ~ば ~ほど construction? Or does it depend on context? Can action verbs/ verbs with a duration be used with ~ていれば ~いるほど?

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When you say 患者になればなるほど, the number of times you "become a patient" is important. When you say 患者になっていればいるほど, the time you spend as a patient is important (you can also say 患者でいればいるほど).

How about this example? Imagine an RPG where the player character is a werewolf:

  • 狼になればなるほど最大HPが減る。
    The more you become a wolf, the more you lose your maximum health. (The number of shapeshifting is important)
  • 狼になっていればいるほど最大HPが減る。
    狼でいればいるほど最大HPが減る。
    The longer you are in wolf form, the more you lose your maximum health. (The time you spend in the wolf form is important)

However, なればなるほど behaves differently when it's used with a word that can be modified by もっと/より ("more"). For example, 金持ちになればなるほど simply means "the richer one becomes". See this answer, too.

食べていればいるほどご飯が冷たくなる makes perfect sense to me because the passage of time is more important than the amount of food you eat in this context. (寒い is not a suitable adjective.)

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  • That RPG example really put it into context for me. Also thanks for correcting me on 寒い, I didn't know that either! – Shurim Jan 13 at 15:52

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