Judy Hagey

Nonfiction Editor ~ Freelance Writer

Let’s Compare

writingtipsTis the season…for comparison shopping. Thanks to the convenience of the Internet, we can still let our fingers do the walking and save ourselves from the crowds.

Adjectives are the vehicle of comparison in language. Most adjectives form the comparative by adding er or r when comparing two things, est for the superlative form—comparing more than two things.

                His car is  nicer than mine, but Jim’s is the nicest of all.

                Jennifer’s gift is bigger than George’s, but Amanda has the biggest package under the tree.

What would the English language be if there were no exceptions? Boring? Right. And right there you have a couple of exceptions to the rule of comparisons. Some single-syllable adjectives just don’t form their comparison in the normal way. Right, wrong, and real to be specific. I know I’m right more often than my husband, but I don’t say I’m righter. He, of course, will argue the point, but the fact is that I am more right on some things than he is…like whether it was Philadelphia or New York City where the cabbie grumbled, “What particular shade of green are you looking for?” as we waited at a red light.

These two-syllable words do not take a suffix to form their comparatives: eager, proper, and somber. You’ll have to use more or most, or less or least.

The most eager child in the class was Billy.

Felicity displayed more proper manners than Genevieve, but Heathrow was the most somber of the clan.

And to get more technical (yes more, not technicaler or even technicaller) participles used as adjectives require more or most before the participle, no suffix. (Participles are verbs used as adjectives.)

Heather’s party was the most boring party I’d ever been to. (In this sentence, boring is a verb used as an adjective—boring party.)

That was a more satisfying answer than the one you gave me at midnight.

And then, of course, there are the irregular adjectives. But they are so common, it’s easy to remember that they don’t follow the rules for comparatives and superlatives. Just remember this little ditty:    

Good, better, best. Never let it rest.
Till the good is better and the better is best.

Sorry, you’ll have to come up with your own ditty for the rest of the irregular adjectives:

bad-worse-worst

little-less-least

much (many)-more-most

well-better-best

far-further-furthest

Happy comparing!
 

 

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