Bathed in the moonlight, her skin looked even whiter than before.

Bathed in the moonlight, her skin looked even more white than before.

Are both forms allowed? Which one is more common and why?

  • 1
    White is an adjective, it has one syllable therefore, the comparative form is whiter. – Mari-Lou A Nov 13 '13 at 12:09
  • 2
    I would probably choose to use some form of "pale" - perhaps "her skin looked paler in the moonlight". Looking "even whiter" sounds odd to me. I've never heard anyone say that. Maybe applied to teeth - "Her teeth, already a radiant white, looked even whiter in the black light." But not skin. – LindaCamillo Nov 13 '13 at 13:28
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    Adding to what LindaBrammer said, "whiter" and "paler" have slightly different connotations, with "pale" being a little more positive due the fact that it is often associated with beauty (can't even count how many times I've seen in my studies of ancient East Asian mythology the exact phrase "considered beautiful for her pale skin and long black hair") while "white" is most frequently used in the expression "white as a sheet," which is not particularly flattering. Of course, "pale" can be used in negative contexts as well, such as "Aren't you a little pale these days?" Also consider "fair." – dead Nov 13 '13 at 15:37
  • 1
    "Bathed in the moonlight, her milk-white skin shone like never before" – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '13 at 0:35

The comparative form of this word is "Whiter."

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Both forms are grammatically acceptable, with the first used far more frequently (according to ngrams for even whiter,even more white).

Note, some of the instances of even more white linked to at ngrams refer to quantity of white, instead of color saturation or value. For example, in Crows and Jays the P. p. Leucoptera entry says “like last but larger and with even more white in the wing.” This slight difference in meaning and the slight increase in length perhaps account for even whiter occurring more often than even more white.

It is famously easy to write clunky sentences containing the word even, and as mentioned in comments paler or lighter might be better choices than whiter. Perhaps consider

Bathed in the moonlight, her skin looked still more pale.

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