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Since one is either pregnant or not, I am wondering if it is grammatically correct to say "A is more pregnant than B". For example, in one of the following two scenarios, can one correctly say "A is more pregnant than B"?

  1. A is 7 months pregnant while B is 3 months pregnant;
  2. A is pregnant with twins while B is pregnant with one child.
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  • Well, these are not sentences in English, since A and B are not female English names. And more pregnant is undefined, since pregnant is not a gradable adjective. Therefore this would have to be a metaphor, and time is only one possibility. Another is weight gain, or extension of the abdomen, or pain, or other complication. Syntax doesn't care what you mean, so yes this is grammatically correct, but it's hardly a useful sentence, since it's unclear and potentially insulting. – John Lawler May 22 '20 at 21:03
  • @JohnLawler Is gradability truly a syntactic restriction or just a semantic one like 'green ideas'? Also, 'more pregnant' for scenario 1 sounds fine to me, but not scenario 2. – Mitch May 22 '20 at 21:12
  • It's a requirement for some phenomena, just like countability or activeness is a requirement for others. – John Lawler May 22 '20 at 21:16
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    It's very, very common to hear someone say, "Wow, she is VERY pregnant!" Or , "She couldn't be any more pregnant." And when there are two pregnant women, and one has been pregnant much longer than the other, hearing, "X is a lot more pregnant than Y" would not strike anyone as strange. These expressions do not come across as "incorrect". They come across as slightly funny, as though the speakers know that they're saying something that is slightly "incorrect". With the word "pregnant", this happens all the time. Occasionally it's offensive, but most often it's not. – Isabel Archer May 22 '20 at 21:17
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    @IsabelArcher You also sometimes hear people being described as being "very married" which is also not truly grammatical as marital status, like pregnancy, is a binary condition. It is, however, usually understood to mean that their spouse is more than usually dominant in the relationship and is also said with rather humourous intent. – BoldBen May 22 '20 at 22:29

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