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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 against the use of the other?

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4 Answers 4

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The basic rules of forming comparatives:

One-syllable words take "er":

  • clear -> clearer
  • sweet -> sweeter

Multisyllable words take "more":

  • incredible -> more incredible (not "incredibler")
  • horrible -> more horrible (not "horribler")

Two-syllable words ending in consonant + "y" take "ier":

  • happy -> happier
  • pretty -> prettier

Both "more clear" and "clearer" are acceptable:

Your answer is more clear than mine.

Your answer is clearer than mine.

Frequency of use: clearer than is twice as common as more clear than, although both are common.

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  • 45
    It should be noted, as everything else in English (sigh), that there will almost always be an exception or two. The one that comes immediately to mind is fun -> more fun.
    – ssakl
    Commented Sep 4, 2010 at 3:44
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    @ssakl what about funnier? Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 6:22
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    @Theta30: That's a different word. fun -> more fun, but funny -> funnier.
    – Charles
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 17:51
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    It's not too surprising that "more clear" is more popular: "clearer" is a bit of a mouthful.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 19:34
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    These rules are simpler than I thought.. wait.
    – abelito
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 15:21
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Both are grammatically correct. ("More clearer", however, would be wrong.)

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    A person who does tidying jobs for Thomas More might be a "More clearer".
    – delete
    Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 2:23
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The question really ought to be whether to say "clearer" or "more clearly." That's the confusing one. I believe it is correct to say that "I see more clearly now that I've wiped my windshield", and incorrect to say "I see clearer now that I've wiped my windshield."

The problem is that comparative adverbs like "better" make you think that "clearer" is the correct comparative adverbial form. But you don't "see clear," you "see clearly."

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    Perhaps a judicious edit would make your position more clear to me. Surely I'm not asking for a clearly answer! Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 22:40
  • Not sure what you are trying to say here.
    – David
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:01
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    It's just that OP never mentioned adverbial use in the first place (as in I can see {more} clearly now, where it modifies the verb "to see"). Not that anything you say is untrue, so far as I can see, but we could reasonably assume OP was only asking about adjectival usage. Where an answer, for example, for can be either clearer or more clear than other answers. And to be honest, where I don't think it makes much difference which you use - they're effectively just alternative stylistic choices. Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:28
  • Well okay, maybe my comment wasn't the funniest I've ever come up with. All I meant, as I explained afterwards, was that I didn't see why you brought up the adverbial form in the first place. Anyway, whatever dictionary.com says, I wouldn't use "words" like stupider. And I'd tend to be suspicious of the linguistic competence of anyone who did, in anything other than a facetious manner. Whatever - my apologies if you perceived an element of "vitriolic invective". I assure you I intended nothing like that. Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 21:15
  • The answer above said that two-syllable words ending in consonant + y take "ier", so shouldn't the comparative of clearly be clearlier then? Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 13:09
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I was taught as far back as elementary to never use clearer because it is not proper English. It is not a word and therefore should not be used. "More clear" should be the correct term to show the advancing superlative of the word "clear."

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    Where was this school that said clearer is not a word? Google Ngrams seems to show "clearer" has been more common than "more clear" since the 17th century. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 18:23
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    I agree with @PeterShor. Not only is "clearer" listed in every dictionary I own as a comparative form of "clear," but great writers have used it down the ages. Here's George Bernard Shaw for you: "Nothing in the score is clearer than that Don Juan is discomfited, confused, and at a loss.." Good enough for Shaw, good enough for me.
    – Robusto
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 13:21
  • @Robusto Shaw was often quite deliberate in his attempts to go against the rules of English, for example in dropping apostrophes from most uses. While I agree with this example, in general he isn't one we can turn to with the "good enough for..." argument.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 13:00

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