Di più/ Più di
Why is the word "di" placed in front of, or after, the word più, sometimes, while other times it is not required (at all)?
It seems to me that I've had a sentence in Duolingo lessons that asks to translate along the lines of, "He wants more" and the answer was "Lui vuole di più." (I could be mistaken about this.)
Then with "He wants more space", the answer is "Lui vuole più spazio."
And I'm fairly sure I've seen other sentences that needed "più di " in front of a noun.
I've managed to memorize that you need the word di in front of sì or no, whereas you eliminate it in all other cases:
Lei dice di sì.
Lei dice ciao.
Lui non dice di no.
Lui non dice niente.
I don't understand why I need to use it (di), with yes and no, but I've accepted that it is simply a rule that needs to be memorized.
Can di più be explained in the same manner, or is there a more apparent reason that I'm just not seeing?
Perhaps di only happens in front of più when used with a verb (or between verbs)?
One question that I know that I've heard is, "Cosa ti piace di più mangiare?" which means, "What do you like to eat the most?", as in, "What is your favorite thing to eat?"
(I imagine that the same rules would apply for meno ; less/ least)
Hopefully someone here can enlighten me (us).
When the words più ('more') and its antonym meno ('less') stand before an adjective, they act as adverbs:
Un libro più interessante. = A more interesting book.
Un attrezzo meno utile. = A less useful tool.
If they stand before a noun, they act as adjectives, but they remain invariable (unlike most other adjectives):
Oggi (io) ho più tempo. = Today I have more time.
Fate meno rumore! = Make less noise!
Qui c'è più scelta. = Here there is more choice.
In neither case they require the additional preposition di.
After a verb, by adding the preposition di before the two adverbs, they act as an intensifier (di più) or as a downtoner (di meno) of the action:
Oggi (io) ho lavorato di più. = Today I worked more.
Questa marca costa di meno. = This brand costs less.
Quell'orologio vale di più. = That watch / clock is worth more.
In this case, the preposition di can be dropped before meno (but not before più):
Questa marca costa meno. = This brand costs less.
Questa marca costa di meno. = (same)
La tua valigia pesa meno. = Your suitcase weighs less.
La tua valigia pesa di meno. = (same)
When using the verb piacere followed by another verb, in a question di più or di meno should stand after piacere, i.e. between the two verbs:
La mattina cosa ti piace di più bere? = In the morning, what do you prefer to drink? (literally, 'what do you like to drink best?')
Cosa ti piace di meno fare? = What do you like to do least?
However, you will also hear them after both verbs (more colloquial / informal):
La mattina cosa ti piace bere di più?
Cosa ti piace fare di meno?
Instead, in affirmative (positive) sentences only the first position sounds correct:
La mattina mi piace di più bere il caffè. = In the morning I prefer to drink coffee.
But rather than using piacere di più, the verb preferire would sound more proper:
La mattina cosa preferisci bere?
La mattina preferisco bere il caffè.
If the sentence expresses a comparison between two elements (A and B), the preposition di introduces the second element, and is always used after più or meno:
Oggi (A) ho lavorato più di ieri (B). = Today I worked more than yesterday.
Questa marca (A) costa meno di quella (B). = This brand costs less than that one.
Quell'orologio (A) vale più del tuo (B). = That watch / clock is worth more than yours.
Depending on the type of comparison and on the sentence, di (or its articulated forms del, dello, della, etc., if required) can follow directly più or meno, as in the previous examples (whose verbs do not have a direct object), or something else can stand between them:
Oggi (A) ho mangiato meno dolci di ieri (B). = Today I ate less sweets than yesterday.
Gianni (A) va al cinema più spesso di noi (B). = John goes to the cinema more often than us.
Paolo (A) è più alto di me (B). = Paul is taller than me.
- Paolo è alto più di me. = Paul is taller than me.
I don't understand why I need to use it (di), with yes and no...
- Lei dice sì. = She says yes.
in the spoken language is perceived as a direct speech: 'she says: "Yes"'.
- Lei dice di sì.
is perceived as 'she says yes' = 'she replies affirmatively'.
Thank you CivisRomanus. I have woken up to another wonderful explanation from you, not only adding to my understanding, but also giving me that positive feeling of 'yes, I can succeed with Italian'. You are a great teacher.
The explanation for di sì is particularly enlightening. It makes a lot of sense now.
Grazie mille! Thanks so much for the explanation and these examples. Very helpful.
I found another example. The Duolingo sentence (from Sports) is:
Gli atleti hanno bisogno di più acqua.
In this case, though, the di "belongs to" bisogno. You always use the phrasing "avere bisongo di" (to have need of).
Are there other common verbs that would always use di and could also be used with più or meno? L'ho paura di più? (I am more afraid of it?)
Avere bisogno is always followed by di, so in this case its use depends on the verb, rather than on the following più.
I am more afraid of it?
- I am more afraid of it. = Io ne ho più paura.
In this case più stands after the verb alone, not after the combination avere paura (di).
- Io ho paura di più cose. = I am afraid of several things.
Here più does not mean 'more', but 'several'. So the same sentence could also be spoken as:
- Io ho paura di diverse cose. = I am afraid of several things.
I can't think of any verb else than avere bisogno that requires di and that could be sensibly followed by più ('more') or meno.
Many other verbs require di, such as:
avere necessità di... = to have necessity of...
avere voglia di... = to feel like...
avere nostalgia di... = to miss (feel nostalgia of)...
avere consapevolezza di... = to be aware of...
but più / meno would be rarely used after them.
I think you are on the right track. "Più" is used when it is right before a noun. When there is no noun, "più" turns into "di più", as in: Q: Vuoi più pane? A: Sì, grazie. Ne vorrei di più. However, it goes back to "più" in a negative sentence like this: A: No, grazie. Non ne vorrei più.
As for your other questions, "Più di" is used to mean "more than". It is not the same più as in the other sentences. "Dice di si', dice di no" are just set phrases and must be learned by heart, same as "dare del tu, dare del lei".