Is "I am extremely smarter than you." a grammatically OK sentence?

It sounds awkward, but is there a grammatical issue?

Please note that I am not asking if it could sound better, nor am I asking for suggestions on an equivalent but better written phrase. Is this statement grammatically acceptable?

  • It does seem that only a restricted set of adverbs can modify comparatives. The tricky part is deciding if this set is grammatically restricted, or partially restricted by non-grammatical factors. Mention of this is made here (apparently it is much the same for adverbs modifying "too"): "too and too much", which lists much, a lot, far, a little, a bit, rather. Apparently, this class of adverbs may be called "adverbs of degree" (although I'm not sure; that might include other things too). – sumelic Oct 16 '15 at 3:39
  • Yeah, apparently "adverbs of degree" does include various words, including according to some "extremely." So it doesn't seem to be a helpful classification here. – sumelic Oct 16 '15 at 4:08
  • Another adverb that is acceptable modifying "too" or comparatives is almost. – sumelic Oct 16 '15 at 4:35

The statement is grammatically acceptable. (You can change "extremely"for "much" or "slightly"and see how it works ).It's the choice of an adverb that makes the sentence strange.

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    Are you sure? I would tend to think that one cannot modify a comparative adjective (probably not the technical term; I mean 'smarter' as opposed to 'smart') using the adverb 'extremely'. I agree that one could use 'much' or 'slightly', but I'm not sure that's conclusive; it is clear that one can say immodestly that "I am extremely smart", but I think that one cannot say "I am much smart." – LSpice Oct 16 '15 at 3:27
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    On the other hand, I've just checked and the OED does list 'very much' as one of the meanings of 'extremely' (oed.com/view/Entry/67170#eid4882154 ), so maybe I'm just overreacting to the awkward sound and making up rules that don't exist. – LSpice Oct 16 '15 at 3:29
  • @LSpice: I would say the sentence is more that just awkward; for me it's barely acceptable at the most. The tricky part is explaining this, and figuring out how the explanation relates to grammar (if it does). – sumelic Oct 16 '15 at 3:58
  • @sumelic Exactly, that's precisely why I asked the question. It just doesn't seem quite right, but it's hard to tell if it's actually wrong. – Jonathan Hebert Oct 16 '15 at 4:01

It would sound absurd when you modify superlatives with adverbs such as very/extremely/much, etc.

I am the extremely smartest guy in the world.

It doesn't work as superlative means:

The highest extent or degree of something.

I think the same way of thinking should be applied to comparatives. When you use comparatives, you have a certain extent or degree in your mind higher or lower, albeit abstract, and you want to express it.

Comparitive is defined in Merriam-Webster as:

of or relating to the form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate more of a particular quality

You want to express "more of a particular quality" and adding an adverb such as extremely can be a duplicate of comparatives.

That's why you don't use the adverb very to modify comparatives.

There are exceptional adverbs that are allowed by definition to modify comparatives such as:

Still, even, much, far, a lot, a way (colloquial)

Still has the following definition in Wiktionary:

(degree) To an even greater degree. Used to modify comparative adjectives or adverbs.

Those other examples have the same definition and usage examples as still. Extremely doesn't.

Note: You can google extremely + comparative and get some hits. I don't think people would be unable to understand when they are uttered. .

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