2

Ok, I often hear my American teacher says "I am more than happy to help you".

I am not sure it is grammatically correct.

Ok, there is no problem to say "I am happy to help you" or "I am very happy to help you"

But "I am more than happy to help you" sounds quite naturally but does not adhere to the comparative structure.

Why not "I am more happy than many others to help you" which can be explained as:

-I am happy to help you

-Many others are happy to help you

-I am more happy than many others to help you

  • It's kind of a colloquial superlative. It can also be rephrased as: "I'd be more than happy to help!" As if you would not only be happy to help, but that helping out would make you happier than happy. So, a more intense emotion than happiness. Not necessarily more happy than others. – Wordxperts Sep 24 '15 at 9:14
  • It means that your teacher is claiming that her feeling about helping you exceeds happiness, so much so that the feeling can't be called mere happiness. It must be akin to ecstasy. The comparison isn't between helpers but between feelings. Don't take her literally: it's a formulaic offering meaning that she's willing to help you. – deadrat Sep 24 '15 at 9:17
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Yes it is. The comparison here is not that your teacher is happier than others to help you, but that they are happier than "happy".

If we list a number of words that relate to happiness/sadness in order from sadness (a low "happiness" score) upwards, we might get something like this:

  • inconsolable
  • miserable
  • sad
  • okay
  • glad
  • happy
  • overjoyed
  • ecstatic

By saying "I am more than happy" your teacher means their level of happiness is above "happy" on that scale. Perhaps a more precise way of saying it would be "I am happier than happy to help you", but "more than happy" is a very well established and frequently used turn of phrase.

  • but "happy" is adjective, so why not "I am happier than happiness to help you"? – Tom Sep 24 '15 at 9:27
  • @Tom: Because they are not happier than happiness. They are not happier than anything. Read the answer again. They are not happier at all. What they are is more. They are more. That's a comparative of an entirely different word. More does not mean happier. – RegDwigнt Sep 24 '15 at 11:36

protected by Community Jan 16 '16 at 11:33

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