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Could the following sentence be considered correct when comparing two or more subjects?

It's visually more distinct.

I'm aware that you can rewrite the sentence like this:

It's, visually, more distinct.

But, the pauses feel unnatural.

There's also:

It's more visually distinct.

This just feels wrong, even if it's technically not.

And lastly:

It's more distinct, visually.

However, 'distinct' can be ambiguous; so, I'd rather have the adjective 'visually' come before it.

I'd also be interested in if there's a particular rule I can read more about that determines whether the first use ('visually more distinct') is correct or not.

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    @tchrist Was that meant to be as condescending as it seems to be?
    – Maybe
    Sep 27, 2023 at 22:55
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    @tchrist That answer doesn't really clarify whether you're intentionally being rude or not. In any case, when I said the name of the rule, I didn't mean in a literal sense like The Golden Rule (one must wonder how that example came to mind). I meant it more as something vaguer like search terms that would help me find more material on the subject.
    – Maybe
    Sep 27, 2023 at 23:12
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    @tchrist Surely you know that many rules of grammar have names. Even linguists have terms for them--usually long, complicated ones.
    – alphabet
    Sep 27, 2023 at 23:18
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    @tchrist You can boil down it down to to "Is this first example sentence correct? Where can I learn more about the rules that shed light on why it is or isn't correct?"
    – Maybe
    Sep 28, 2023 at 2:14
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    I wonder if the reason it feels wrong is that visually is the usual way of judging distinctiveness, and that word is likely to be redundant. If it's a sound, one is likely to say "It's more audibly distinct" (which is subtly different to "It's audibly more distinct") or possibly simply "You can hear the difference".
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 28, 2023 at 10:52

1 Answer 1

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Both "visually more distinct" and "more visually distinct" are acceptable and in normal usage. Your other two examples are also correct and have the same meaning.

It is true that grammatically "visually more distinct" and "more visually distinct" are different, but with the word choices "visually" and "distinct" the difference in meaning is negligible if it exists.

With other word choices there might be an actually difference in meaning. For example

  • visibly more useful

means that the object is more useful, and that the difference is visible: while

  • more visibly useful

means either that the object is more useful in a visible way, or that its usefulness is more visible.

But in your case these is no difference in meaning.

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  • Thank you. Do you know of an authoritative resource that goes over why? It's okay if you don't. To be honest, I'm not sure what the most authoritative resources for English grammar are in the first place. (Lord knows search engines are so bogged up with bot-created websites these days that it's hard to figure out anything.)
    – Maybe
    Sep 28, 2023 at 18:18
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    It's basically about the chain of modification. In "visually more distinct" "visually" modifies "more distinct" whereas in "more visually distinct" "more" modifies "visually distinct". Often it makes no difference. Sometimes it does. Sep 28, 2023 at 21:25
  • I see. Thank you for the help. I do agree that my example had no difference in meaning, I just think more visibly useful sounds a bit awkward.
    – Maybe
    Sep 28, 2023 at 21:58

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