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I was taught that more beautiful is a comparative adjective. But when I think about it, wouldn't more be an adverb and beautiful be an adjective?

  • Yes, both are true. Compare more beautiful to the adjective prettier. – Yosef Baskin Mar 27 '17 at 16:00
  • So would you say more is an adverb? – Theresa Lauck Mar 27 '17 at 16:12
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    Absolutely true. Together with an adjective, more makes a comparative adjective phrase. We use it for longer words or any that don't sound nice when adding 'er' to the end: Hotter, nicer, lovelier, more righteous, more stupid, more evocative. – Yosef Baskin Mar 27 '17 at 16:30
  • More and most are adverbs when they are used to create comparative and superlative adjectives respectively. More beautiful is the comparative adjectival form of beautiful created with the help of more, the adverb. – mahmud koya Mar 27 '17 at 16:36
  • Not quite: "more beautiful" is an adjective phrase headed by the adjective "beautiful" with the comparative adverb "more" as modifier. – BillJ Mar 27 '17 at 17:34
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The simplest analysis is that, yes, more is functioning as an adverb in modifying the adjective beautiful:

more
ADVERB

Forming the comparative of adjectives and adverbs, especially those of more than one syllable.

Example: ‘for them enthusiasm is more important than talent’

Regarding how to describe the two words together, BillJ comments that "more beautiful is an adjective phrase headed by the adjective "beautiful" with the comparative adverb "more" as modifier."

However, in his comment John Lawler notes that "since more … than is part of the comparative construction (and only occurs there), more is not so much an intensifying adverb as an auxiliary, particle, or complementizer, like the words marking other constructions" [bold emphasis is mine].

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