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?


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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    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 Sep 4 '10 at 3:44
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    @ssakl what about funnier? – Theta30 Feb 14 '12 at 6:22
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    @Theta30: That's a different word. fun -> more fun, but funny -> funnier. – Charles Mar 27 '12 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 Mar 27 '12 at 19:34
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    These rules are simpler than I thought.. wait. – abelito Jan 14 '15 at 15:21

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 Aug 30 '10 at 2:23

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! – FumbleFingers Mar 7 '12 at 22:40
  • Not sure what you are trying to say here. – David Mar 22 '12 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. – FumbleFingers Mar 22 '12 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. – FumbleFingers Apr 11 '12 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? – Seppo Enarvi Sep 27 '13 at 13:09

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. – Peter Shor Mar 27 '12 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 Apr 8 '12 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 Nov 21 '13 at 13:00

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