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Would "cheaper and more efficient" be ever so slightly preferred over "more efficient and cheaper"? The same goes with "more", and any other pair/group of comparatives, of which one uses "more" or "less" while the other doesn't.

My intuition favours the former to totally eliminate any possibility or relation made between "less" or "more" and the other comparative it is not meant to describe, although I acknowledge that ambiguity is not a concern, and even in my daily life I use both naturally. How much preference do you think should be given to the former, if it should be given any at all?

In addition, what would be the appropriate term for this? My first guess was "order of comparatives", but that didn't yield any results on Google.

(Some other examples: "Slower and less alert" instead of "less alert and slower" and "Chaster/holier and less sinful" instead of "less sinful and chaster/holier") Thanks for reading this! :)

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    I share your preference for putting the -er word in front of the "more x" phrase in a parallel construction, but I've never seen a style guide present that preference as a rule or even as a recommended practice. Not only does calling someone "more temperate and lovelier" leave a faint shadow of "more temperate and more lovelier" on the page, but also, even freed of that reading, the "lovelier" falls a bit flat as a standalone second element. To my ear, "lovelier and more temperate" sounds significantly better—although "more lovely and more temperate" might be better still. – Sven Yargs Oct 29 '17 at 7:30
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    The only way it might work in the intended sense is by adding a comma for semantic separation: "more temperate, and lovelier" @Sven Yargs! – English Student Oct 29 '17 at 7:49
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While choosing between 'cheaper and more efficient' and 'more efficient and cheaper' you are basically right to "favour the former to totally eliminate any possibility or relation made between 'less' or 'more' and the other comparative it is not meant to describe".

It is generally understood that in a sentence such as

they were more enthusiastic and helpful after they heard the details of the project

the 'more' is supposed by most readers to apply to both 'enthusiastic' and 'helpful.' If for some reason you intend 'more' to apply only to 'enthusiastic' then for perfect clarity you would have to rewrite it as

they were helpful and more enthusiastic after they heard the details of the project

But in your example, the 'more' or 'less' could not apply to words like 'cheaper' or 'slower' because they are already in the comparative form and 'more cheaper' is usually ungrammatical. (Debatable example of possible exception: "Site A quoted a high price for this product. Prices on Sites B and C are cheaper, of which the prices on Site C are more cheaper! I need to look at Site D to know which site is quoting the cheapest price." Note: As pointed out by OP in comments, "even cheaper" is the accepted usage rather than the debatable 'more cheaper.' Further, 'lowest price' may be the more typical expression but 'cheapest price' is commonly used here in Indian English.)

I cannot think of any rule, however, that insists 'cheaper' should always come before 'more efficient' -- but that's the way it is usually found written, and it does sound much better: therefore I suppose it's a matter of style!

Which led me to this very similar question and some very interesting responses that perceptively discuss both the grammar and the style of your matter:

https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/english-grammar-help-comparative-adjectives.46364/

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  • Thank you for your wonderful answer sir/maam! And thanks for sharing about Indian English too, I've always kept an interest in different English dialects/styles. As for your example above though, wouldn't "even cheaper" sound better than "more cheaper", or is it commonly used in India? (I will tend towards descriptivism and enforcing grammar less strictly especially if it is a gradual and natural evolution in a whole community) – Anonymous Oct 29 '17 at 7:37
  • (continued from previous comment due to character limit) I don't see using cheaper price as the main point of contention as to your example though; anyway you could always remove "price" altogether and use "goods" instead hahaha :) Thanks for the link at the end too, it's a pretty interesting discussion! – Anonymous Oct 29 '17 at 7:38
  • You are most welcome. I used 'more cheaper' experimentally to compare two 'cheaper' prices as the only possible exception to the rule that says 'don't use more/less + comparative form.' You are right that 'even cheaper' is indeed the best choice but it's basically a contraction of 'even more cheap' and so it's not debatable: the expression 'even cheaper' is very much accepted usage. I conducted an exhaustive google search and found that no grammar pages have addressed the point of your question except that very interesting linked discussion on style.Very glad to be of help to you @Anonymous! – English Student Oct 29 '17 at 7:51

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