Friday, March 14, 2008

And Now: Back to Topic. Comparatives

Comparatives in English have taken a beating over the last few decades. You probably remember comparatives from school: big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest. Nowadays, however, even in print, it seems as though anything goes.
We've seen in print lately:

  • ...more angry...

  • ...littler...

  • ...less small...

In honor of all our beloved English teachers, who have had a lot to bear from the entropy of English in the last few decades, here's a list of some common comparatives.

  • good, better, best (not "more good" or "gooder"; exception: "Put that money where it will do the most good." This isn't really a comparison at all, but could be confused for one.)

  • angry, angrier, angriest

  • little, smaller, smallest (or tinier, tiniest; never "littler, littlest;" exception: when the person speaking in dialogue is either uneducated or a child; and you won't want to use it in prose or narrative.

  • tired, tireder, tiredest

  • fast, faster, fastest

  • slow, slower, slowest

  • nitpicking, more nitpicking, most nitpicking (yep, applies to me and grammar, and, see, there are times when "more" and "most" are used with an adjective! More examples include "monumental," "phenomenal," "fabulous," etc.)

  • able, abler, ablest (yes, really; the antonyms are "less able" and "least able")

If you have any questions about a particular comparative not listed here, please feel free to inquire!

1 comment:

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