Related link: My answer to One answer to a Q. is suited to ELL, but the other answer is suited to EL&U on ELU Meta.

In the course of an argument, Rathony said the following:

I would answer, if you ask me, that ELU is closer to a little more smart and sophisticated question forum and ELL is a little less sophisticated question forum. The difference is not so big.--Rathony

I then corrected him:

'ELU is closer to a little more smart and sophisticated question forum and ELL is a little less sophisticated question forum. The difference is not so big.' Correct usage would be "ELU is a slightly smarter (note correct comparative) and more sophisticated question forum, and ELL is a slightly less sophisticated question forum. The difference is not very big OR the difference is not so great." Even this could be bettered by "ELU is a forum for slightly smarter and more sophisticated questions" etc. You have some work to do on comparatives and so forth before you offer advice to native speakers.--Me.

He replied:

A native would never be confused between more smart and smarter and insist on using "is a slightly smarter and more sophisticated". That proves you are not a native.--Rathony AND: At least I know how to use the comparative when two adjectives are used at the same time. You don't.--Rathony

I said:

Give me a reference that justifies your usage.--Me.

He said:

No. I don't want to help you. You find it yourself.--Rathony.

I've tried. I can't. So can someone find a reference that justifies his idea that the construction 'more smart' can be used instead of 'smarter' where more than one adjective is involved?

  • Comments are not usually proofread to check grammar and stuff. Why bother correcting someone's comments?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 7:12
  • englishpractice.com/grammar/…
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 7:15
  • 1
    @NVZ Your cite isn't much help. For one, it doesn't address the OP's question about more than one adjective, although I suspect he means when there's an adverbial modifier to the comparative. Secondly, their advice is nonsense: The comparative in –er is not used to compare two qualities of the same person. [Thus] *John is more smart than prudent. (NOT John is smarter than prudent.) [con't]->
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 7:24
  • <-[con't] But this has nothing to do with dual qualities in one person. It's fine to say John is smarter than he is prudent. The reason to prefer more smart is to avoid the garden parth John is smarter than Prudence. That's the thing about advice from the interwebs: you never know where it's been.
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 7:27
  • 'John is more smart than prudent' means that John is smart (not smarter), John is also prudent, but he is more one thing than the other--more smart than prudent.
    – Dunsanist
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


Perhaps it would be a more smart idea if we didn't lecture about proofs of other's native linguistic abilities, but in any case, I think you both may be considering the wrong question. The crux of the matter isn't that there are two adjectives involved (here smart and sophisticated); it's that Rathony wants the single adverbial comparator little more to apply to both adjectives, a rhetorical device sometimes classified as zeugma, the combination of parallelism and ellipsis. What's meant is

[1a] a little more smart and a little more sophisticated

and that cannot be accomplished with the inflected comparative:

* [1b] a little smarter and sophisticated

  • 1
    You can't say 'A little more realistic and sophisticated movie'. The problem is not the comparatives. "A little more realistic movie" still doesn't work. 'Little' is the problem. You should say 'a slightly more realistic movie' or 'a somewhat more realistic movie'. OR 'the movie is a little more realistic'.
    – Dunsanist
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 8:04
  • Oh, and deadrat, please point out that your use of 'more smart' here is ironic.
    – Dunsanist
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 8:12
  • 1
    @Dunsanist I am not sure whether only "slightly" is used in your dialect which I assume is non-standard English, look at this Ngram Viewer and see how they are used. What is the problem of using "a little" before a comparative? I am at a loss. Read the dictionary definition yourself. thefreedictionary.com/a+little
    – user140086
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 8:30
  • 1
    >>'somewhat' or 'slightly' or some other construction that doesn't already use 'a'. 'somewhat more sophisticated', 'slightly more sophisticated', 'a little more sophisticated'. Only 'a little' requires 'a'. Oh, and if you say 'it is little more sophisticated (than)', that means 'it is NOT MORE sophisticated (than)' which is an entirely different meaning. 'It is little more sophisticated than the technology of last century."
    – Dunsanist
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 9:40
  • 1
    Is anyone here seriously asserting that "He is a little more sophisticated man" is grammatical? "He is a little more sophisticated man THAN…" is slightly better, but still marginal. "He is a slightly more sophisticated man" is fine, though there is still an implied comparison required.
    – Dunsanist
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 10:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.