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I received a letter today from my opticians and my roommate claims a sentence of it is grammatically incorrect.

When you collect your spectacles, an Optical Advisor will check their fit and comfort, and show you how to care for them.

He says that the word comfort doesn't belong, as something can be comfortable, but it cannot have comfort. Is this true?

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition 6a of comfort is

A state of physical and material well-being, with freedom from pain and trouble, and satisfaction of bodily needs

Definition 6b is

The conditions which produce or promote such a state

That would seem to cover the use in the letter you received.

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I agree with Mr. England. Your roommate may think comfortableness is the more appropriate word, but it is not as commonly used as "comfort" and tends to be used in terms of financial security and relationships with situations or other people.

From the blog "Literal-Minded"

"If a word can be derived by regular morphological processes (affixes, compounding, etc.), but a word with the same root with the desired meaning already exists, then the derivation is blocked. For example, even though comfortable could in theory give rise to comfortability or comfortableness, it doesn’t, because the noun comfort already exists."

(As dictionaries show, comfortableness is actually a word, but comfort is the more commonly used word with respect to fit of clothing or other apparel.)

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