By Mysterion


2010-08-30 01:11:17 8 Comments

Which one of these adjectives is correct? I can see that both of them are being used, I'm just not sure which one is grammatically correct.

Are there any general rules to follow as to the use of one against the use of the other?

4 comments

@delete 2010-08-30 02:19:45

The basic rules of forming comparatives:

One-syllable words take "er":

  • clear -> clearer
  • sweet -> sweeter

Multisyllable words take "more":

  • incredible -> more incredible (not "incredibler")
  • horrible -> more horrible (not "horribler")

Two-syllable words ending in consonant + "y" take "ier":

  • happy -> happier
  • pretty -> prettier

Both "more clear" and "clearer" are acceptable:

Your answer is more clear than mine.

Your answer is clearer than mine.

Frequency of use: clearer than is twice as common as more clear than, although both are common.

@ssakl 2010-09-04 03:44:53

It should be noted, as everything else in English (sigh), that there will almost always be an exception or two. The one that comes immediately to mind is fun -> more fun.

@Theta30 2012-02-14 06:22:20

@ssakl what about funnier?

@Charles 2012-03-27 17:51:56

@Theta30: That's a different word. fun -> more fun, but funny -> funnier.

@amcnabb 2012-03-27 19:34:08

It's not too surprising that "more clear" is more popular: "clearer" is a bit of a mouthful.

@abelito 2015-01-14 15:21:09

These rules are simpler than I thought.. wait.

@CryingCyclops 2016-01-26 01:06:01

More two-syllable exceptions: humble -> humbler; clever -> cleverest. Really, there are quite a few. I would think of this as more of a rule-of-thumb than a rule at all.

@Scott 2017-06-09 23:43:21

Regarding one-syllable words: I’m comfortable with “drier”, but not “slier” (as in “the older fox is slier than the younger one”).  I’m undecided about “wrier”.  Also, One-syllable adjectives with comparative ‘more’ instead of -er lists a few more.

@balu 2018-12-17 13:17:39

@ssakl In most sentences where "fun" is used in the way you described, "fun" can be considered a noun, not an adjective, as in "She is (more) fun". Hence "more" in "more fun" then becomes an adjective, not an adverb. The only exceptions I can come up with are ones where "fun" precedes another noun, like "She's a fun person." or "That's a fun game." …where, however, you would never say "She's a more fun person" as you would if "fun" were an adjective.

@squidbe 2019-10-07 22:50:36

@balu, Whether one says "more fun" or "funner", either is a comparative which is, by definition, an adjective. And it isn't really logical to say that "fun" is a noun in "She is fun" because, if "fun" were a noun, the usage would be, e.g., "She is a fun" as in "She is a person" -- using a noun in the predicate doesn't make sense without an article. The only way "fun" makes sense as a noun there is in the unusual case where you mean she is literally the concept of fun; however, you're implicitly saying she has a fun personality, so "fun" functions as an adjective.

@balu 2019-10-08 00:27:06

@squidbe I disagree, there are plenty of nouns that are usually not preceded by an article – uncountable nouns, for instance. From my point of view, "fun" – as a noun – would fall right into this category.

@squidbe 2019-10-15 21:34:02

@balu, The point isn't merely about whether an article is required. As I said, there's an unusual case where one might mean that she is equivalent to the concept of fun, and in that case, no article would be required. E.g., one might be making a rhetorical point about how rich a woman is and say, "She is money!" But that's not really relevant to the question of which comparative form to use. Whether using "more fun" or "funner", either is a comparative. When you say, "She is more fun", fun does not function as a noun because she is more fun than something else, hence the comparative.

@O. P. 2012-03-27 17:48:48

I was taught as far back as elementary to never use clearer because it is not proper English. It is not a word and therefore should not be used. "More clear" should be the correct term to show the advancing superlative of the word "clear."

@Peter Shor 2012-03-27 18:23:20

Where was this school that said clearer is not a word? Google Ngrams seems to show "clearer" has been more common than "more clear" since the 17th century.

@Robusto 2012-04-08 13:21:24

I agree with @PeterShor. Not only is "clearer" listed in every dictionary I own as a comparative form of "clear," but great writers have used it down the ages. Here's George Bernard Shaw for you: "Nothing in the score is clearer than that Don Juan is discomfited, confused, and at a loss.." Good enough for Shaw, good enough for me.

@Jon Hanna 2013-11-21 13:00:40

@Robusto Shaw was often quite deliberate in his attempts to go against the rules of English, for example in dropping apostrophes from most uses. While I agree with this example, in general he isn't one we can turn to with the "good enough for..." argument.

@David 2012-03-07 20:58:06

The question really ought to be whether to say "clearer" or "more clearly." That's the confusing one. I believe it is correct to say that "I see more clearly now that I've wiped my windshield", and incorrect to say "I see clearer now that I've wiped my windshield."

The problem is that comparative adverbs like "better" make you think that "clearer" is the correct comparative adverbial form. But you don't "see clear," you "see clearly."

@FumbleFingers 2012-03-07 22:40:12

Perhaps a judicious edit would make your position more clear to me. Surely I'm not asking for a clearly answer!

@David 2012-03-22 16:01:42

Not sure what you are trying to say here.

@FumbleFingers 2012-03-22 16:28:35

It's just that OP never mentioned adverbial use in the first place (as in I can see {more} clearly now, where it modifies the verb "to see"). Not that anything you say is untrue, so far as I can see, but we could reasonably assume OP was only asking about adjectival usage. Where an answer, for example, for can be either clearer or more clear than other answers. And to be honest, where I don't think it makes much difference which you use - they're effectively just alternative stylistic choices.

@FumbleFingers 2012-04-11 21:15:11

Well okay, maybe my comment wasn't the funniest I've ever come up with. All I meant, as I explained afterwards, was that I didn't see why you brought up the adverbial form in the first place. Anyway, whatever dictionary.com says, I wouldn't use "words" like stupider. And I'd tend to be suspicious of the linguistic competence of anyone who did, in anything other than a facetious manner. Whatever - my apologies if you perceived an element of "vitriolic invective". I assure you I intended nothing like that.

@Seppo Enarvi 2013-09-27 13:09:42

The answer above said that two-syllable words ending in consonant + y take "ier", so shouldn't the comparative of clearly be clearlier then?

@RegDwigнt 2010-08-30 01:35:08

Both are grammatically correct. ("More clearer", however, would be wrong.)

@delete 2010-08-30 02:23:43

A person who does tidying jobs for Thomas More might be a "More clearer".

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