In general, it appears monosyllabic adjectives in English form the comparative by the -er suffix. Are there any cases where a monosyllabic adjective can be preceded by more but still be grammatical (it might be an adverbial use possibly?)?

Edit: I've thought of some cases where the adjective is modifying something, for example:

  1. There are more fast cars today than ever.
  2. More big companies are choosing Verizon as their phone carrier.

Still, are there any other cases?

  • Note that in your examples, we are not dealing with a comparative of the adjective. More is here a determiner meaning 'an amount or number that is larger than another' (Macmillan online dictionary)
    – tunny
    Nov 16, 2014 at 6:27
  • In your examples, more modifies cars and companies, respectively, not fast and big. They aren't necessarily faster or bigger than before — just more of them. Nov 16, 2014 at 6:28
  • This is what was meant by "the adjective is modified something", which meant to mean "the adjective is modifying something." Nov 16, 2014 at 8:32
  • Adjectives aren’t special in this way. The very same question applies to adverbs as well, which not only inflect into the comparative degree faster than you can shake a stick, but sooner, too.
    – tchrist
    Nov 16, 2014 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


In your example sentences more is being used as a determiner not as a comparative. The meaning is: Today there are more cars that are fast, and not Today there are faster cars.

There is in fact one context in which more is sometimes used in the comparative of single-syllable adjectives, namely as an alternative to the repetition of the adjective in sentences such as:

It's becoming more and more clear to me that I may be in trouble one day. (clearer and clearer)

Why is it that the rich are getting more and more rich, and the poor getting more and more poor? (richer and richer / poorer and poorer)

And there is another context in which it is mandatory to use more, such as in the following:

She was more dead than alive. (*She was deader than alive.)

Germany's grey manifesto is more old than bold. (*Germany's grey manifesto is older than bold.)


IN the 100 most common more + adjective citations in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, there is only one single-syllable adjective, real, and that has two syllables for many speakers. More fun appears in the list, but many of the citations are for the noun.

So, the construction is not common, but Quirk et al note in their Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language that it's possible. They specifically mention some adjectives for which it is rare: bad, big, black, clean, fair [colour], far, fast, good, great, hard, high, low, old, quick, small, thick, thin, tight, wide, young.

  • if dipthongs are allowed, then I wouuld add the tripyhongs "royal" and "loyal". There is also the case of past participles used as adjectives, e.g, "my shoes are more worn than his".
    – Martin
    Nov 16, 2014 at 7:28
  • @Martin Royal and loyal have no triphthong: they both have two syllables, and to be a triphthong you need three vowel sounds in a single syllable. So things like why, weigh, wow, yay.
    – tchrist
    Nov 16, 2014 at 15:36
  • @tchrist Who says they've got two syllables? Nov 16, 2014 at 16:08
  • 1
    @tchrist The last element used in the representation of fire is represented with a schwa, that does not prevent it from being a thriphthong for the majority of speakers in normal speech. Strictly speaking a thriphthong is one single glide with a changing target, in other words it changes direction half way through. We can't really view it as two glides just like we can't view a diphthong as being two vowels. If fire's a triphthong for some speakers, the same's going to be true at least for some speakers for 'loyal' it seems. Nov 16, 2014 at 16:34
  • @tchrist Don't worry I'll leave it here: If you want to contradict a British English speaking poster about their post, your comments need to hold water for British English speakers - it would seem. Nov 16, 2014 at 16:50

A different and probably better example could be

This is a car more fast than fast-selling.

(Made for speed but few people want to buy.)

The benefit of more rather than the comparative form faster is too obvious here.

There are contexts where more and most are useful irrespective of whether the word itself has its own comparative and superlative forms because the semantic is different.

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