So I was talking to my fiancee and she said "more sharp" to which I said "you mean sharper?". This is in context of talking about her current earrings being "more sharp" then her usual ones. She then insisted that "more sharp" is a proper phrase. I disagree.

So we come to you, oh interwebs, to determine whom is correct.

Is "more sharp" a proper phrase, especially in this context, or is it an improper phrase?

  • 3
    No. It should be sharper. Sharp is only one syllable, and one-syllable adjectives take -er for comparative and -est for superlative. Three-syllable adjectives take more and most. Two-syllable adjectives are the source of all the real problems; they can swing various ways. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 22:40
  • 1
    @JohnLawler: I sometimes make exceptions with single-syllable words that I find hard to enunciate to my satisfaction. Rarer comes to mind. I'll say "more rare" when I want to make sure the distinction between the positive and the comparative isn't lost.
    – Robusto
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:03
  • 4
    possible duplicate of "More clear" vs "Clearer": when to use "more" instead of "-er"?
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:16
  • 3
    @John Lawler I think that there are individual words that buck the trend. 'More drunk' sounds more natural to me than 'drunker', and these Google Ngrams seem to indicate that it's an at least equally acceptable form in British English. Also, 'more clear' may be preferred for emphasis in say 'I couldn't have made it more clear'. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:18
  • 2
    There is no hard-and-fast rule against using "more X" rather that "Xer", where "Xer" is a valid word. In some cases it's appropriate.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 1:21

3 Answers 3


I think this is more about the different definitions of sharp. Informally sharp can be used in relation to someone's style, clothing, or general appearance and in that context, I would say either could be used acceptably.

In this sentence, I think more sharp actually aides the clarification of the adjective used because saying "these earrings are sharper" could be relating to the needle (I don't know if the sharp part of the earring has a specific name) whereas "these earrings are more sharp" makes me think of the style specifically.

I am sure there will be some disagreement to this, and would like to just mention, this is only my opinion.

  • It was in reference to the needle portion. I should have been more clear on that note.
    – Patrick
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:23
  • 2
    "more clear"? Not "clearer"? Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 5:26
  • @curious-proofreader Lol
    – Patrick
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 14:11

It's "sharper." If an adjective has one syllable, you make comparative by adding "-er". Using "more + [a one-syllable adjective] is not an accepted alternative.

  • 4
    Sure. Like "funner."
    – user124384
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 0:36
  • @ user124384 - touché.
    – IanS
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 2:08
  • 1
    Context matters. "Is the pain sharp or dull?" "I'd say it's more sharp than dull." That is a correct use I hear all the time. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 5:37

In British English usage 'more clear' or 'clearer' strictly speaking mean the same. I agree with a previous answer - 'more clear' is used for emphasis, especially when negated. Often one form or the other seems more natural and also may help remove ambiguity ( see previous answers). For example, "the edge of that desk seems more curved than usual" versus "her figure is curvier than her sisters". It may seem more natural than "her figure is more curved than her sisters". To say "the edge of the desk is curvier" sounds strange. (although 'the edge of the desk seems more rounded than usual' might be more accurate and less ambiguous)

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