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Does the adjective "different" have a comparative form? If so what is it?

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I think the general rule is that only words of one syllable, and some two-syllable words, can form superlatives by appending -er and -est. Arguably, "different" is two-and-a-half syllables, so it doesn't meet the requirement. The superlatives are therefore more different, and most different, to the extent that such terms can meaningfully be used as adjectival phrases. –  FumbleFingers Dec 9 '11 at 18:58
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Voting to reopen. I'm not sure how much can be added to John's answer, though I'd like to know if there's any more on the guiding principle as to which two-syllable words can take -er, -est. But just because Wiktionary happens to define the comparative doesn't mean this Q is trivial. –  FumbleFingers Dec 9 '11 at 20:44
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closed as general reference by RegDwigнt Dec 9 '11 at 20:15

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

There's no single word, no.

Different has three syllables, and English adjectives of three or more syllables (as pronounced, not spelled) must use the periphrastic more or most to form a comparative or superlative phrase. The comparative suffix -er and superlative suffix -est can only inflect adjectives of one syllable, with a few -- mostly ones ending in /i/ or /o/ -- of two syllables swinging both ways.

  • big: bigger, biggest, *more big, *most big
  • easy: easier, easiest, ?more easy, ??most easy
  • narrow: narrower, narrowest, more narrow, ?most narrow
  • helpful: *helpfuller, *helpfullest, more helpful, most helpful
  • interesting: *interestinger, *interestingest, more interesting, most interesting

Just one more example of dying inflections in English. There are only 9 inflectional suffixes in English, and this is two of them, both hanging on only in common monosyllables.

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Reference that there are no three-syllable cases? –  GEdgar Dec 9 '11 at 20:10
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Check any ESL textbook. Non-native speakers have to be taught the actual grammar of the language, instead of the catechism of shibboleths that native speakers are taught in Anglophone schools. –  John Lawler Dec 9 '11 at 20:14
    
Your reply makes me unhappier than most. –  GEdgar Dec 9 '11 at 21:00
    
@GEdgar: unfriendliest. I'm cheating a little by adding the 'un', but just wanted to highlight that there is at least one exception to the rule. –  Lynn Dec 10 '11 at 3:46
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It’s more different, but it’s normally only used in negative sentences, as in, for example, Nothing could be more different than chalk and cheese.

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