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Someone asked about using "enough" in front of a comparative adjective e.g. "he felt enough better to go back to work." A lively discussion ensued between the BrE and AmE contingents about whether a) enough can ever be used with a comparative and b) if it can, whether it ever appears in front of the adjective. Once it became clear that BrE speakers do not use such constructions at all, a heated discussion followed among AmE speakers about whether such constructions are a perfectly normal, even sophisticated, part of standard (is there such a thing?) AmE or instead represent colloquialisms confined to some geographic region or social niche. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has a small number of hits, mostly in fiction, which seems to support some level of use, albeit limited.

So now to a concrete question:

Which of the following, if any, sound correct to AmE speakers in a written, but not necessarily formal, context?

A. Art felt enough better to go back to work.
B. Bart felt better enough to go back to work.
C. Curt felt sufficiently better to go back to work.
D. Dirk felt sufficiently well to go back to work.
E. Erik felt well enough to go back to work.
F. Fred felt improved enough to go back to work.
G. Or some other way to express the idea?

BTW, I looked at prior questions in this forum. One, which I'd hoped would provide some insight, used the term "enough better" as part of a larger example but didn't ask for or receive any comments on that particular point: Q: How much not better than average is enough?

Another, Too X, X enough, enough X didn't address the use of enough in front of a comparative.

  • "Sound correct" to whom? In what context? You already cite discussions that apparently go into depth about what is acceptable to whom in various contexts. This question "sounds" too broad or opinion-based. – Drew Apr 29 '17 at 20:45
  • I modified my question to be: sound correct to AmE speakers in a written, but not necessarily formal, context. The previous discussion was with a limited number of participants. My hope is to get more opinions here and come up with my own conclusions. – Qwerty Apr 29 '17 at 21:01
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I'm Canadian, so I'm pretty familiar with both American and British English. To my ear, none of the enough X constructions sound right. Your A. example sounds flat out wrong.

Example B. sounds just fine.

Examples C. and D. are little stilted, but not necessarily wrong.

Examples E. and F. also sound fine, although I would say E. is conventional and F. is less so.

I'm not sure what conclusions you might draw from this. It seems to me in English it's all fine and well to say there are rules and exceptions to rules, but in the end it seems to come down very often to what just sounds right to a native English speaker.

  • Your A. example sounds flat out wrong Would it make a difference if it were worded like this: Art felt just enough better to go back to work? – Qwerty Apr 29 '17 at 21:07
  • (Still trying to get the hang of the markup language and wasn't able to get the comment edited in the requisite 5 minutes) What about this case: Art felt better, just enough better to go back to work. – Qwerty Apr 29 '17 at 21:14
  • @Qwerty that sounds a little less jarring, but I wouldn't expect a sophisticated speaker of English to say it that way. Rather: just better enough – Joel Brown Apr 30 '17 at 13:29
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Well, you appear to be asking simply for opinions without any need to defend those opinions, so I'll add my own: I distinctly prefer E ("he felt well enough") above all the other options, although I might add "sufficiently improved" to the list. I have no particular rules or precedents to offer in defense of either of these opinions, however.

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In your context of physical health, the correct English is "he felt well enough".

When someone is recovering from illness we do say they are "feeling better", but when we need to compare it we say "well enough".

(That's well as in "feeling well", not the water source)

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Option "e" provides a simple and conventional method of stating the aforementioned.

  • define or cite 'well enough' and elaborate your support for 'E'. – lbf Mar 11 '18 at 16:22

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