I've just read this quotation here at StackExchange: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." I've checked a few online dictionaries and there seems to be nothing wrong with the sentence. However, if we say "more acrid than" and "more valid than"; why not say "more stupid than" ?

  • 3
    Because language is not maths or logic. No really, that's the honest answer. – RegDwigнt Jun 23 '14 at 18:08
  • 1
    Related: Conundrum: “cleverer” or “more clever”, “simpler” or “more simple” etc ; also of interest will be other questions tagged with comparative. – choster Jun 23 '14 at 18:13
  • 2
    The question marked as a possible duplicate is a lot broader than this, but it answers the question and more besides. – TRiG Jun 23 '14 at 18:15
  • 2
    You generally don't say "more acid than", because "acid" as an adjective is boolean, it either is acid or it is not. Perhaps "more acidic than" or "a stronger acid than", because these describe the degree of acidity. – Ben Voigt Jun 23 '14 at 18:34
  • 1
    @Luis: not in English, but the German "Psychologie" qualifies. Words starting with ps are virtually always Greek in origin, the Greek originals beginning with ψ. My teachers would have been right in saying English words with this beginning are not pronounced as written by most English speakers, but wrong in saying that the thing is a phonological impossibility. – Brian Donovan Jun 23 '14 at 19:26

stupid -> stupider -> stupidest

is equivalent to

stupid -> more stupid -> most stupid

You can choose which version you would like, they mean the same thing.

  • The fact that the meaning is the same does not address usage. Unless you think it's fine if I say "more long" and "most long" instead of "longer" and "longest". – Martin Argerami May 31 '16 at 7:23
  • You are correct; I did not address usage at all except to say that you are free to choose whichever you like. With specific consideration toward "more long", I doubt I would use it in conversation, but I might use it when speaking to a young child who has a limited vocabulary. This would be merely to convey an idea to a child and nothing more. I would guess that in such an interaction I would say something like "A is long, B is even more long than A. C is the most long of the three". Kind of silly, but it might make sense to a child. – KnightHawk May 31 '16 at 14:15
  • My point is that somewhere/somehow there are some rules. I'm not a native English speaker,, yet I know to say "longer" instead of "more long", and to say "more dangerous" instead of "dangerouser". It's mostly use, but there has to some kind of logic behind it. – Martin Argerami May 31 '16 at 15:36
  • I don't disagree. I don't know of any actual rule, but there is a general acceptance that certain words use "more" and certain words use "er". However, for many other words it makes little or no difference and it is the writer or speaker's preference. The OP's example of "stupid" is, I believe, an example where it is the author's choice to use whichever form fits better in the sentence structure or timing. Speaking of timing, poetry would be a good example where any rules need not always apply. – KnightHawk May 31 '16 at 15:45

The rule is typically that if an adjective is monosyllabic, you add -er to the end to make it comparative, but use the adverb more for a polysyllabic adjective. There are cases that flout the rule, however, mostly through common usage. They can be represented either way.

  • Adjective? Nothing here is peculiar to adjectives. It doesn’t matter what sort of modifier it is when forming comparative and superlative degrees. The faster you run, the likelier the goal. – tchrist Jun 23 '14 at 19:38
  • @tchrist I'll cite my source when I am able to later, this was taken from my textbook from the course Morphology & Syntax of the English Language. – Andy Jun 24 '14 at 14:32
  • 1
    The rule I know is for 1 syllable (~er) and for 3 syllables (more ~). On this subject, you may see my answer to come. [ Edit ] I was writing an answer, but the question has just been closed, so my answer will not come. – Nicolas Barbulesco Jun 24 '14 at 19:59
  • But for 2 syllables things get fuzzy. – Nicolas Barbulesco Jun 24 '14 at 20:54
  • 1
    @NicolasBarbulesco: that sounds right. – Mitch Jun 24 '14 at 21:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.