4

(Originally posted in Linguistics but I was told here is more appropriate)

When talking about a door, for example, we usually say:

"the door is open" and "the door is closed"

why don't we say:

"the door is opened" and "the door is closed" ?

6
  • Dunno if it's directly relevant, but it's interesting to consider the "comparitive adjective" forms opener and closer (in the context of comparing two doors, say, one of which is "more ajar" than the other). It's at the margins of "credible usage", but I'm more or less okay with saying one door is opener than the other. I'd find it a bit harder to say the other's closer, but consider (among) different RP speakers, closer and opener varieties (of this sound are) quite common. Jul 31, 2018 at 13:39
  • (And would that be an s or a z phonetically? How about closeder?) Jul 31, 2018 at 13:42
  • Comparatives of participles are usually not morphological. There's already a word opener, for instance; it's a noun. And open doesn't end in /i/ or /o/, so more open is what the rule produces. Closeder is very odd -- the /zd/ right before the suffix feels wrong, like the syllable's too heavy. Jul 31, 2018 at 13:55
  • @FumbleFingers Both "opener" and "closeder" would violate the rule that only monosyllabic comparatives can take the "-er" suffix. I've found this to be a pretty robust rule in AmE. Is BrE more flexible with regards to this? Aug 30, 2018 at 19:04
  • @AzorAhai: That's a reasonable "rule of thumb", but there are quite a few exceptions, and a lot of "marginal" cases (nobody would argue with easier, narrower, unhappier, for example). Not to mention which closed is monosyllabic anyway. I doubt there's any significant US/UK split though. Aug 31, 2018 at 11:54

1 Answer 1

3

The principal answer to almost all "why" questions about language is "because that's the way it is".

Sometimes, though, you can find a historical explanation of how things came to be - which does not answer the question "why", but can give some understanding.

In this case, the historical reason seems to be that the verb open comes from the adjective open (probably not in English, but in a prior state of the language). So open has had the adjectival meaning longer than it has been used as a verb.

In the case of close, though it seems to come ultimately from a Latin adjective (past participle clausum), within English (and the French we got it from) it was primarily a verb, and so the derived closed came into use. There is another reason as well: There is an adjective close in English - from the same root - and it has retained a few special uses with the meaning closed, as in close season; but in general it has taken the different meaning (and pronunciation) close = "near"), and the meaning shut is no longer available for the word.

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.