My teacher taught me that to form the comparative and superlative degrees of a mono- or di- or tri-syllabic word, I should add 'more' and 'most', e.g.:

lively -more lively-most lively

I know it is correct, but today I saw these words in these forms:

lively -livelier-liveliest

Which way is correct? Or are both of them correct? Why?

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  • 3
    Two-syllable words ending with 'y' are usually exceptions to this rule: friendlier, friendliest, happier, happiest, earlier, earliest, livelier, liveliest, funnier, funniest, wearier, weariest, sunnier, sunniest, rainer, rainiest, etc. – Peter Shor May 25 '13 at 15:29
  • 2
    Both forms are used and both are accepted. I think it is a matter of style which one you prefer to use. – Irene May 25 '13 at 15:34
  • 7
    Yup. There's an overlap between the monosyllable rule and the polysyllable rule in bisyllabic words ending in /i/ or /o/, and that naturally produces a lot of individual variation. This, as usual, can lead to peevery among people who believe (a) That there hasta be only one correct way to say something; and (b) that it's the way they say it. – John Lawler May 25 '13 at 15:41
  • @JohnLawler: What is this "hasta" of which you speak? :^) – user11752 May 25 '13 at 18:55
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of "More clear" vs "Clearer": when to use "more" instead of "-er"? – Mari-Lou A Jul 9 '16 at 20:13

Both are common as Irene mentioned in her comment but most dictionaries only list livelier and liveliest as the standard comparative and superlative forms of the word lively. Examples:

  1. Oxford Dictionary:

    lively /ˈlʌɪvli/ adjective (livelier, liveliest)

  2. Meriam-Webster:

    live·ly adjective \ˈlīv-lē\ live·li·er | live·li·est

  3. Longman:

    live‧ly adjective - comparative livelier, superlative liveliest

  4. TheFreeDictionary:

    live·ly (līv'lē) adj. live·li·er, live·li·est

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