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Is it more/most or -er/-est?

tall, taller, tallestIs it correct to say “more pretty” or “prettier”.  Are there some concrete rules to help students modify a noun?

There are, but as is the case with English, there are some exceptions to the rule.


Adjectives and adverbs describe nouns. So when we make comparisons we make a change to the adjective or adverb. For example:


That cat is prettier than my dog.
The bird sings louder than my sister.
You have to be more careful when crossing a busy road.


Let’s start with the rules for comparisons involving adjectives.

One-syllable adjectives

One-syllable adjectives use the suffixes –er and –est.

This is the tallest building in the world.
Sam is shorter than Ben.

Irregular one-syllable adjectives

There are some exceptions for irregular one-syllable adjectives. Here are some of the most common irregular adjectives:

Good becomes better.
The dessert was better than the main course.

Well becomes better.
I’m feeling much better today.

Bad becomes worse.
I performed worse at my piano recital than last time.

Far becomes farther.
She ran farther than the rest of the students.

Far becomes further.
I want to further my understanding of zoology.

Little becomes less.
I have less time to play now that I’m in grade 7.

Three-syllable adjectives

Adjectives with three or more syllables use ‘more’ or ‘most’ in front of the adjective.

These slippers are more comfortable than the last pair I had.
That is the most extraordinary juggling act I have ever seen.

Two-syllable adjectives

Two-syllable adjectives are a bit more complicated.

There is one rule that will help: two-syllable adjectives that end in –y, -ow and –le take the suffixes – er and –est.

The clown is funnier and funnier every time I see him.
Green is a mellower color than red.

 

The rest of the two-syllable adjectives use more and most.

I am more careful on my bike since I fell off it.
It is more peaceful in the countryside than in the city.
Sophia is the most thoughtful of all my friends.

Comparing adverbs

Adverbs follow the same rules as adjectives:


One-syllable adverbs use the suffixes –er and –est.

The skier who arrives soonest will win the race.


Three-syllable adverbs use ‘more’ or ‘most’ in front of the adjective.

These shoes fit more comfortably than the last pair I tried on.


Two-syllable words take the suffixes and others take ‘more’ and most.
Early becomes earlier.
Sadly becomes more/most sadly.