Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

share|improve this question

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."

share|improve this answer

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) :

enter image description here

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

share|improve this answer

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).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.