The form of an adjective or adverb used to compare two or more things. English comparatives are formed with the suffixes -er/-est or the words more/most.

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“More clear” vs “Clearer”: when to use “more” instead of “-er”?

Which one of these adjectives is correct? I can see that both of them are being used, I'm just not sure which one is grammatically correct. Are there any general rules to follow as to the use of one ...
22
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6answers
2k views

Phrase: “Colder than a witch’s kiss!”

The following was used in a radio broadcast (The Adventures of Harry Lime, 14th December 1951, episode 20 “An Old Moorish Custom”) as Harry was hit on the back of his head with a rifle butt by a giant ...
21
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7answers
2k views

Why “Greater Toronto” rather than “Great Toronto”

Many big cities have their names preceded by Greater. Why not just Great? Does Greater indicate that the city is ambitious to expand itself? Why is Greater not used for country names such as Great ...
18
votes
6answers
2k views

Are the rules regarding absolute modifiers too absolute?

A common grammar lesson that was taught to me in the US and that I've had to teach abroad in EFL classrooms is that we're not to use adverbs of emphasis with absolute modifiers, just as we're not ...
16
votes
16answers
9k views

A word that means 'most important'?

I tried to find a single word that means "most important", but I couldn't. I want it to be able to express what's missing below: If you get hurt, the _ thing to do is to stay calm. It would ...
14
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12answers
14k views

What is the difference between “quicker” and “faster”?

What is the correct word to use here and why: I will get there quicker [than you] vs. I will get there faster [than you] There must be similar adverbs for "slower".
14
votes
6answers
16k views

“Like something more” or “like something better”

When people like something more than something else, it's common for me to hear them say they like it better than something else. Is this proper English? I've always thought the word more fits better, ...
12
votes
2answers
667 views

Does English have half-graded antonyms?

In a recent question about comparatives, a dispute arose in the comments about gradable antonyms like useful/useless where English speakers strongly prefer to use comparative forms only for half of ...
11
votes
5answers
4k views

Morbid curiosity about “more better”

I have a grammatical question regarding one of the worst pieces of grammar imaginable. One of my students made the argument that better things could be considered a single item. Is it possible for the ...
11
votes
1answer
420 views

“not as” versus “less”

English speakers seem to prefer "less powerful" over "not as powerful", and "not as big" over "less big". There's at least a ten-to-one ratio in both cases—See this Google Ngram. There also seems to ...
10
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5answers
1k views

Are there any “-nk-” or “-nc-” words in English where there isn't a “ng” before the “k” sound?

In words like think and lank, we actually seem to be saying "thing-k" and "lang-k." Can anyone thing-k of any words or rules for sound use where this doesn't happen?
10
votes
3answers
6k views

Speak Slower or Speak Slowlier?

AFAIK the correct grammar for "speak slow" is "speak slowly" (slowly being an adverb). Please correct me if I am mistaken. But in daily life I have not heard anyone saying "Speak slowlier". I think ...
10
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2answers
13k views

What are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?

What is the type of sentence exemplified below called? Is it appropriate to use it in a scientific paper and formal written English in general? 1. The more pronounced the variation, the more the ...
10
votes
4answers
25k views

“Much more easy” versus “much easier”

My mom and I are having a dispute on much more easy versus much easier. For example, consider the sentence: It's [much more easy]/[much easier] to do action X than action Y. I say that much ...
10
votes
1answer
339 views

Why is my English “worlds better” than yours but never “the best by worlds”?

In speech when making comparisons we can say: It is far better than It's way better than It's miles better than It's worlds better than For instance, British restaurant food is ...
8
votes
5answers
887 views

Use of “The better”?

Disclamer: English isn't my first language. I learned during my English courses (a few years ago), that there is, as in French (which is my first language), a comparative and superlative version for ...
8
votes
4answers
7k views

“Lower number” vs. “smaller number”

Is −9 a smaller number than −8? And is −9 a lower number than −8? What is the difference between lower and smaller here?
8
votes
2answers
249 views

Is 'worse' the only comparative that has neither -er nor more?

There was a question recently about comparatives and it got me thinking about how comparatives are formed. There are those that take -er and those that use more to indicate comparison, but is worse ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

Is “very less” correct English?

Is using very less correct English? My friend suggests it should be very little. Are they both correct, or is there a difference?
7
votes
2answers
8k views

Is there a comparative form of “well”?

Is there a word that means "more well", in the same way that "better" means "more good"? In common parlance most people just use "better" for this purpose, but this seems incorrect and is a nagging ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Increasingly + positive or increasingly + comparative?

For instance, would you rather say "It became increasingly hard" or "It became increasingly harder"? From my understanding, both are possible, but their meaning is slightly different. The first ...
7
votes
3answers
19k views

Conundrum: “cleverer” or “more clever”, “simpler” or “more simple” etc

I know the rule for making the comparative and superlative form for two-syllable words ending in y, replace the -y with i and use -er and -est : hap.py → happier → (the) happiest ti.dy → tidier → ...
6
votes
7answers
5k views

Use of the superlative when only two items are present

When speaking with my mother a couple of days ago, I read to her a message I was sending to my cousin on her behalf ending with: "... the birthday of your youngest." [implying her child] She ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “such a cooler” proper English?

I'm trying to say something like "that's such a cooler design". Is there more valid expression that expresses the same thing? Or is this okay English? I guess "that design is so much cooler" would ...
6
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5answers
1k views

The comparative of “environmentally friendly”

When using the comparative with environmentally friendly would it be correct to say environmentally friendlier, or more environmentally friendly?
5
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4answers
2k views

Is 'uniquer' a word?

My spellcheck doesn't complain about 'uniquer'. Is it a valid word? Since unique means "one of a kind", 'uniquer' has no valid definition, but that doesn't prevent it from being a valid dictionary ...
5
votes
5answers
345 views

formation of comparisons

Is it incorrect to phrase a comparison in the following way: Men are prone more than women to depression. Or must the adjective always follow more? Men are more prone than women to ...
5
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3answers
566 views

Is it incorrect to use non-comparative adjectives while comparing two things?

Is it required to use comparative adjectives while comparing two things like this? Wireless networks, compared to wired networks, suffer from slow(er) connection speed, long(er) delay, and (more) ...
5
votes
2answers
700 views

Comparative adverbs

"Officially" (or so I believe) English doesn't have comparative adverbs (a single word rather than "more" + an adverb), but faster is in common usage as one, for example: Do it faster When ...
5
votes
0answers
190 views

“Prefer tea to/over coffee” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which is correct: “prefer X to Y” or “prefer X over Y”? Which is correct? I prefer tea to coffee. I prefer tea over coffee.
4
votes
6answers
701 views

Mass nouns and counts nouns. Does getting it wrong ever matter?

Less/fewer, too much/too many, amount/number... When people get these things wrong, it bugs me. But I cannot think of a situation where mistaking a mass noun for a count noun (or vice versa) would ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

Differences between “audio” and “sound”?

What is the difference between "audio" and "sound"? Is it possible that a beeping noise could be considered one but not the other?
4
votes
3answers
603 views

Comparative or superlative to describe a quality of a member of a set of two things?

For example, 'he's the bigger of the two guards' or 'he's the biggest of the two guards'? The comparative indicates that something is bigger/more difficult than another member. If there's only two ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

comparative construction used with pronouns, especially 'her'

I was recently pulled up by a colleague when I made a statement along the lines of I am a better player than her. My colleague suggested the correct statement should be better player than she is ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Smaller vs. less vs. lesser

I am confused as to some of the vocabulary that can be used to compare numbers and quantities, and would very much appreciate some clarification. I suppose it is safe to say that 1 is smaller than ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

“more” is to “less” as “er” is to what?

Excerpt from Cambridge Dictionary of American English: If you want to use an adjective or adverb to say that a quality is of a higher degree, you can usually add -er (one-syllable adjectives) to ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

two times or twice

In the 1980’s the rate of increase of the minority population of the United States was nearly twice as fast as it was in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s the rate of increase of the minority population of ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

Comparative or superlative use of the word “far”

Which sentence is correct? The quarterback threw the ball farthest than anyone else on the team. The quarterback threw the ball farther than anyone else on the team. The quarterback threw the ball ...
4
votes
0answers
242 views

Etymology Moderne of … “sick”, “bad”, and words we hardly consider being the opposite any more [closed]

Somewhat prosaically, it was stated that the origin (or at least the coining practice likely used) of the word "sick" to mean "awesome", or "cool", or "astounding" ... itself used the word "cool", ...
3
votes
2answers
665 views

An adjective to describe a substance consisting of smaller-size grains

What adjective you would use to describe a substance consisting of grains of smaller size compared to those of another substance? For example, "Milk powder is ______er than sugar". Addition: And if ...
3
votes
6answers
889 views

“More perfect” versus “less imperfect”

"More perfect" is presumably bad English (Preamble to the US Constitution notwithstanding), since something is either perfect (and thus can't be improved) or not. "Less imperfect", however, seems ...
3
votes
3answers
19k views

Is there a difference between “quicker” and “more quickly”

This is a follow up to this question: What is the difference between "quicker" and "faster"? "Quicker" is an adverb, as are "more" (in this context) and "quickly". So is there a ...
3
votes
3answers
136 views

Is “more mainstream” a valid thing to write?

I'm writing a report talking about how a certain technique in my field has become 'more mainstream', but that phrase looks rather wrong. Is it a valid thing to say? Can something become "more ...
3
votes
3answers
350 views

Is there a difference between “less ambiguous” and “more unambiguous”?

Relevant examples: If you make the following changes your sentence will be less ambiguous. If you make the following changes your sentence will be more unambiguous. Do these sentences have ...
3
votes
1answer
631 views

Comparative, superlative using “one of”

Which is correct: Today is one of the warmer days this month. Today is one of the warmest days this month. I hear the first used almost exclusively on television news.
3
votes
4answers
1k views

“Younger” or “youngest”

I came across an odd-looking usage in the paper today... The wife of President Assad listens to her husband yesterday with her two younger children The sentence suggests that she has some other ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

The meaning of “no more … than”

These two attitudes are no more contradictory than those two. Which of the following interpretations is right (or give me a better one if possible): Relatively, these two attitudes are not ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Comparative and superlative adverbs?

I'm a native speaker of English, and I don't know how many times I've wanted to say "happilier" instead of "more happily", or "happiliest" instead of "most happily". Is there any record of such ...
3
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6answers
1k views

In mathematics, when referring to pure numbers is largest or biggest correct?

When referring to a list of number is largest or biggest correct? For example, I want to find the biggest number in an array. Or should it be the largest number. Finally, would either biggest or ...
3
votes
4answers
475 views

Describing event with “greatest” date value

I'm struggling with a way to describe one of a series of datetime values that has the greatest value. My first thought would be to call it the "latest", but the suggests that the event is in the ...