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I thought "commoner" is 'a person not of royal birth', but saw "commoner" used instead of "more common". Is this correct?

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3 Answers 3

It can be used that way and understood, because of the general pattern of adding -er to adjectives to form comparatives. However, commoner as a comparative is not standard.

The Oxford English Dictionary's entry for commoner only lists it as a noun. Wiktionary's entry does include an adjectival form, and it is defined as "more common," but calls this usage "less desirable" and "much less commonly used" than "more common."

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It seems that it is allowed:

As a general rule, most other two syllable adjectives also form comparatives and superlatives with more and most, apart from those ending in -y (see (iii) above). However a few two-syllable adjectives can take either -er/-est or more/most. Here are five of the most common examples:

 common          commoner/more common    the commonest/most common      
 narrow      narrower/more narrow        the narrowest/most narrow

Checking up Google Ngrams, using "commonest" and "most common" (not using "commoner" as Google Ngrams will show results of "commoner" as a noun) :

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"Most common"(and deductively "more common") is more used.

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Saying "a commoner ball" in stead of "a more common ball" does sound extremely odd.

Even if it's grammatically accepted, the listener will think that it's wrong usage (he will still be able to understand what you mean though).

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