I've been looking for this answer a lot and people say diferent things are true. Is it shyer and the shyest, shier and shiest or more shy and the most shy? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary it's shyer and the shyest, shier and shiest. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shyer) The same goes to Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shy). So does this mean both are right?

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    Related question, “shyer” or “shier”.
    – user140086
    Jan 1, 2016 at 10:46
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online has them as shyer and shyest, which interestingly does not follow the pattern of dry, drier, driest. Personally I think I would tend to use more shy, most shy.
    – WS2
    Jan 1, 2016 at 12:17
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    A comparative of the form "word-er"/"word-est" can always be replaced with the form "more word"/"most word" if one wishes. There is thus no need to list the "more"/"most" forms in the word's dictionary entry.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 1, 2016 at 13:59
  • @HotLicks The most large state in the USA is Alaska. Sounds a bit odd, don't you think? Charles is more tall than his cousin. It doesn't really work for me.
    – WS2
    Jan 1, 2016 at 16:24
  • @WS2 - Yep, it's odd, but theoretically legitimate.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 1, 2016 at 19:37

2 Answers 2


What Merriam-Webster is saying by including the comparatives shyer, shyest, shier and shiest is simply that these are words; it's not implying that more shy and most shy are ungrammatical. If you look at their definition of polite, it gives politer and politest and makes no mention of more polite and most polite, even though these latter forms are used quite a bit more often. (See Google Ngram.)

The same is true with shy; more shy and most shy are used fairly frequently and are not ungrammatical. Similarly, Merriam-Webster includes both the shyer and shier spellings because they are both fairly common, and neither can be said to be wrong.

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    I think that the "more-" & "most-" forms dominate in writing while the "-er" & "-est" forms are quite common in speech. This could be due to such more often being informal, or could be simply that people unsure of the correct spelling use an alternative form.
    – Chris H
    Jan 1, 2016 at 15:11

Both are correct, yes. It is never ungrammatical to add "more" before an adjective, unless it is already in comparative form.

The dictionaries you mentioned are just noting that superlative and comparative forms of the adjectives do exist, as that is not always the case.

  • It may not be ungrammatical, but for some adjectives it's definitely unidiomatic. See Google Ngram for much more dark/much darker. Jan 1, 2016 at 17:55

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