"It is important that they become better."
Translation:Il est important qu'ils deviennent meilleurs.
Woulnd't 'il est important qu'ils deviennent mieux' also work? Not sure about the difference between 'mieux' and 'meilleurs'
"mieux" is a comparative adverb: tu te sens mieux ? = are you feeling better?
"meilleur" is a comparative adjective: il est meilleur, elle est meilleure, ils sont meilleurs, elles sont meilleures, to be used with "state" verbs: être, paraître, devenir, demeurer, rester (be, seem/look, become, remain, stay)
Both are the comparative form of "bien/bon" and the superlative forms are: "le mieux", "le/la/les meilleur/e/s/es"
I answered "mieux" because I read the sentence in the sense of, for example, two coaches watching their team practice and one saying to the other "they have to get better" with "at playing" being implied. To me, at least, using the adjectival form to say that they just have to "become better" doesn't make sense. Am I missing something?
yes, it is, I edited my previous comment to add the missing word "bon":
bon, meilleur, le meilleur (+ feminine + plurals) = adjective
bien, mieux, le mieux (invariable) = adverb.
According to http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/dictionary/mieux.html, "mieux" can be used either as an adverb or an adjective. Could you please clarify that?
Une question: is 'devenir mieux' definitely wrong in French (meaning begin to feel better, rather than begin to become a better person)? Merci
Yes it is not correct and the solution is related to the verb:
State verbs (paraître, sembler, devenir, demeurer, rester) all work the same way as "être", ie with adjectives:
"good / better / the best" translate to:
-je suis bon/ne, je deviens meilleur/e, je reste le/la meilleur/e
With other verbs "better" cannot be translated by the adjective "meilleur(e)(s)" but by the adverb "mieux" (comparative of "bien")
"good / better / the best" then translate to:
-je vais bien, je me sens mieux, je danse le mieux
There must be a little more to it, judging by these Duolingo sentences that I've commented on in the past as if I know something:
Can you comment on the difference between those sentences and this one?
My suspicion is that for an impersonal expression (il est bien de...) or a generalized expression (c'est bien) "bien" and "mieux" are more commonly used than "bon" and "meilleur", but in such cases "bien" and "mieux" are still adjectives.
I have never considered "bien" as an adjective outside:
- "C'est un homme bien" (he is a decent man)
- "Ton discours est bien" (your speech is well written/well thought out).
- "Ton discours est mieux" (your speech is better written/better thought out).
"Bon" and "bien" are not often interchangeable (they are with things, not with people) and each has its range of meanings:
- "C'est un homme bon" (a generous man),
- "C'est un homme meilleur" (a better man)
- "Ton discours est bon" (convincing/moving).
- "Ton discours est meilleur" (more convincing/moving)
Actually, there is not much difference between "ton discours est bien/mieux" and "ton discours est bon/meilleur". Either is anyway a poor description of the thing's positive aspects (loads of more relevant adjectives are available).
However, whatever its grammatical nature is, "bien" is very versatile and can be used in all possible constructions with "c'est", whether "c'" is personal or impersonal:
- c'est bien (it/this is good), c'est bien de parler (it is good to talk), c'est mieux de se taire (it is better to keep quiet, c'est mieux que rien (it is better than nothing), c'est mieux que de se taire (it is better than keeping quiet)...
"Bon" is definitely an adjective in this area, and the above examples are not all possible with "c'est":
- c'est bon (it is fine/OK or it is tasty depending on context), (il est bon de parler (it is good to talk), il est meilleur de se taire (it is better to keep quiet).
When you construct an impersonal sentence, that is when you add "de + infinitive" or "que + clause", you should use the impersonal pronoun "il". You are already aware that the French use "ce/c'" in such constructions, but we should not.
Maybe you can feel what's wrong with "c'est bon de/que" if you replace it with "this is".
- Il est important qu'ils deviennent meilleurs = It is important that they become better
- C'est important qu'ils deviennent meilleurs = This is important that they become better.
In any event, "qu'ils deviennent meilleurs" would definitely feel better as "qu'ils s'améliorent" (people) or "qu'ils soient améliorés" (things).
The academic rule about "il" to be preferred to "c'" may be easier to describe and substantiate with other adjectives like "facile/difficile, possible/impossible, évident, triste, utile/inutile, simple/compliqué, and important".
The "it is"/"this is" approach is a helpful way to think about "il est" versus "c'est". I think I do understand that issue to a large extent, in part as a result of your comments elsewhere.
As for the various differences in meaning between "bon" and "bien" in the same sentence position, it seems like an area obviously worthy of further study. I appreciate the examples.
Interestingly, I've just noticed, reading a bit more thoroughly, that both Larousse and Collins call "bien" an invariable adjective when used with "se sentir", e.g. "je me sens bien", which is a commonplace notion in English grammar ("I feel good" and "I feel well" both have adjectives as complements), and it's always tripped me up to have to think of "bien" as an adverb in such a case.
I'll have to keep thinking about "bon" and "bien".
You're right, my angle was limited to the verb "être" and noun descriptors. By the way, "bon" can be considered as an adverb or an invariable adjective in "sentir bon", and as an adverb in interjections (Bon !) so we may not crack this nut today.