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My teacher taught me that to form the comparative and superlative degrees of a mono- or di- or tri-syllabic word, I should add 'more' and 'most', e.g.:

lively -more lively-most lively

I know it is correct, but today I saw these words in these forms:

lively -livelier-liveliest

Which way is correct? Or are both of them correct? Why?

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Two-syllable words ending with 'y' are usually exceptions to this rule: friendlier, friendliest, happier, happiest, earlier, earliest, livelier, liveliest, funnier, funniest, wearier, weariest, sunnier, sunniest, rainer, rainiest, etc. –  Peter Shor May 25 '13 at 15:29
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Both forms are used and both are accepted. I think it is a matter of style which one you prefer to use. –  Irene May 25 '13 at 15:34
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Yup. There's an overlap between the monosyllable rule and the polysyllable rule in bisyllabic words ending in /i/ or /o/, and that naturally produces a lot of individual variation. This, as usual, can lead to peevery among people who believe (a) That there hasta be only one correct way to say something; and (b) that it's the way they say it. –  John Lawler May 25 '13 at 15:41
    
@JohnLawler: What is this "hasta" of which you speak? :^) –  Mark Bannister May 25 '13 at 18:55
    
@MarkBannister: I believe the word of which you speak came from comedian Bill Saluga (aka Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.), who was fond of saying "Oh . . . You can call me Ray, you can call me R.J., you can call me Johnnie, you can call me Junior, you can call me R.J.J., you can call me R. J. Junior, but ya doesn't hasta call me Johnson!" –  rhetorician May 29 '13 at 0:34
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1 Answer 1

Both are common as Irene mentioned in her comment but most dictionaries only list livelier and liveliest as the standard comparative and superlative forms of the word lively. Examples:

  1. Oxford Dictionary:

    lively /ˈlʌɪvli/ adjective (livelier, liveliest)

  2. Meriam-Webster:

    live·ly adjective \ˈlīv-lē\ live·li·er | live·li·est

  3. Longman:

    live‧ly adjective - comparative livelier, superlative liveliest

  4. TheFreeDictionary:

    live·ly (līv'lē) adj. live·li·er, live·li·est

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