Italian Language/use of "o"

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Question
Dear Maria,

My question is about the use of the conjunction “o”  in the following sentence:

Ami di più il mare o la montagna?
(Do you love the sea more than the mountains?)

Can you please explain why the conjunction “o” is used to make the comparison in this sentence instead of using the preposition “di” as in:

Ami di più il mare della montagna?
(Do you love the sea more than the mountains?)

Can you also please tell me if there are any guidelines for using the conjunction “o”  (instead of  “di” or “che”) in a comparison.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

in the sentence “Ami di più il mare o la montagna?” the  disjunctive conjunction “o” (= or), whose synonym is “oppure”,  is used not so much for a comparison, but for an alternative  as in “Preferisci il mare o la montagna?”

As for “Do you love the sea more than the mountains?, it corresponds exactly to:”Ami il mare più della montagna?” or “Preferisci il mare alla montagna?”, whereas “Ami di più il mare della montagna?” is not so correct in Italian.

To conclude, there is no guideline for using the disjunctive conjunction “o” (instead of  “di” or “che”) in a comparison simply because the disjunctive conjunction “o”  is used to express an alternative rather than a comparison, though it can be sometimes used in sentences like “Ti piace di più andare al cinema o a teatro?” (would you rather go to the cinema or the theatre?) ,  “Ami di più il mare o la montagna?”, “Hai parlato di più con suo fratello o con sua sorella?”, where there is the comparative “di più” in an interrogative clause expressing a question that  denotes an alternative choice, rather than a comparison.

Best regards,
Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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