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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Forming the Comparative of One-syllable Adjectives

Forming the Comparative of One-syllable Adjectives

I was only half-listening to an economic analyst being interviewed on NPR, but shot to attention when he said that some economic event was “a more strong indicator” of something or other.
Knowing that being interviewed and talking off the cuff can be stressful for people not used to it, I turned to the web to see if I could find written examples of more being used to compare single-syllable adjectives.
Confining my search to the adjective strong, I found these examples:
• Why para nitro benzoic acid is more stronger acid than meta nitro benzoic acid
• Which would be a more strong magnet?
• Is “certainly” a more strong adverb than “definitely”? “certainly” is more stronger.
• Merge data fields in a more strong way
• Which is a more strong and just relation, friendship or love?
Note: The positive, comparative, and superlative forms of strong are strong, stronger, strongest. I was looking for examples of “more strong.” I never expected to find “more stronger.”
Here are the conventional rules for forming the comparative form of a one-syllable adjective in English.
To compare a one-syllable adjective ending with a consonant, add -er.
small, smaller
sweet, sweeter
long, longer
strong, stronger
If the one-syllable adjective already ends with the letter e, form the comparative by adding -r:
nice, nicer
wise, wiser
If the one-syllable adjective ends with a single consonant preceded by a vowel, double the consonant and add -er:
big, bigger
thin, thinner
rich, richer
Now for the exceptions to the rule.
Sometimes using more instead of -er with a one-syllable adjective is an acceptable stylistic choice:
1. The writer wishes to emphasize the comparison. “He promised to paint the chair pink, but when the paint dried, it was more red than pink.”
2. The one-syllable adjective occurs with an adjective of two or more syllables. “The lecture was more dull and lengthy than the previous one.”
3. It is easier for the speaker to say. “Both views may be right, but mine is more right than yours.” (Other one-syllable words that compare with more are real and wrong.)

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