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  1. #1
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    Question Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Hello, I have a few questions about comparative grammar.
    When I want to use comparative phrases to describe one's behavior, what is the correct way to change its form?
    For instance, should I say "Hold the rail tighter for your safety. " or "Hold the rail more tightly for your safety."?
    And how about multisyllabic adjectives ,such as "beautiful"? "More beautifully or more beautiful" ?
    As for superlative ones, when people use superlative adjectives to describe things, "the" must be added. How about when used as a verb?
    Should I say "Among all the festivals, I like Christmas the best." or "Among all the festivals, I like Christmas best." Which is right?
    By the way, I'm curious why the words of almost every topic are bold while mine are not. How to set up to make the change? Thx a lot.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by terrenziqq View Post
    Hello, I have a few questions about comparative grammar.
    Just a small quibble - you want to know about the grammar of comparatives. Comparative grammar is a technical term for comparing the grammar of two languages, say English and Cantonese.


    When I want to use comparative phrases to describe one's behavior, what is the correct way to change its form?
    For instance, should I say "Hold the rail tighter for your safety. " or "Hold the rail more tightly for your safety."?
    You can use either in this case.

    And how about multisyllabic adjectives ,such as "beautiful"? "More beautifully or more beautiful" ?
    The choice of comparatives is 'more beautiful' or 'beautifuller'. The latter does not exist. You have to use 'more beautiful'.
    Your use of the adverb 'beautifully' is a different point. The choices here are 'more beautifully' or 'beautifullier". The latter does not exist.
    You are confusing two grammar principles - comparison of adjectives and comparison of adverbs. Changing an adjective to an adverb is never a solution to this problem.

    Another example
    loud (adjective); loudly (adverb)
    His voice is 'more loud' / 'louder' than mine. ('Louder' is better).
    Can you speak 'more loudly' / loudlier? (Only 'more loudly' is right).

    As for superlative ones, when people use superlative adjectives to describe things, "the" must be added. How about when used as a verb?
    Should I say "Among all the festivals, I like Christmas the best." or "Among all the festivals, I like Christmas best." Which is right?
    Either is possible, but generally speaking, using 'the' is more common with the superlative.
    Note also, that you have the same problem of choices with the superlatives:
    She is the most beautiful / the beautifullest woman in the room. (Only 'most beautiful' is right).

    With multisyllablic words, you use 'more <adjective>' or 'more <adverb>' for the comparative, and 'the most
    <adjective>' or 'the most <adverb>' for superlatives.
    R.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    R.
    Thank you, Raymott. But I just wonder what it might be if a single syllabic word (an adjective) of which people aren't used to adding "er" to the end is turned into an adverb? Because I just couldn't think of any, I typed "tight". However, "tight" can be used as an verb based on a dictionary, so it's not a good example. What if I say "sad"? For example, "You should act more sadly." or "You should act sadder." Which of the above is right? I hope you know what I mean.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by terrenziqq View Post
    Thank you, Raymott. But I just wonder what it might be if a single syllabic word (an adjective) of which people aren't used to adding "er" to the end is turned into an adverb? Because I just couldn't think of any, I typed "tight".
    The only single syllable adjectives which we don't add 'er' to to form the comparative (that I can think of) are the irregular ones like good/better/best.

    However, "tight" can be used as an verb based on a dictionary, so it's not a good example.
    Do you mean it can be used as an adverb?

    What if I say "sad"? For example, "You should act more sadly." or "You should act sadder." Which of the above is right? I hope you know what I mean.
    I think you are referring to adjectives that can be used as adverbs.
    The comparative of "You should act sad" is "You should act sadder".
    The comparative of "You should act sadly" is "You should act more sadly".
    So, the correct comparative depends on the base form.

    The comparative of "Hold on tight!" is "Hold on tighter!".
    The comparative of "Hold on tightly!" is "Hold on more tightly!".

    Even if you are using an adjective as an adverb where you shouldn't, such as:
    * "You dance beautiful" The corresponding incorrect comparative would be:
    * "You dance more beautiful than she does".

  5. #5
    terrenziqq's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I think you are referring to adjectives that can be used as adverbs.
    The comparative of "You should act sad" is "You should act sadder".
    The comparative of "You should act sadly" is "You should act more sadly".
    So, the correct comparative depends on the base form.

    The comparative of "Hold on tight!" is "Hold on tighter!".
    The comparative of "Hold on tightly!" is "Hold on more tightly!".

    Even if you are using an adjective as an adverb where you shouldn't, such as:
    * "You dance beautiful" The corresponding incorrect comparative would be:
    * "You dance more beautiful than she does".
    Sorry, there are always some wrong spellings making you confused. Hope you don't mind.
    I think I've understood how to use comparative phrases correctly based on what you taught me.
    If an adverb is a single syllabic word, in comparative situations "more Adj+ly" and "Adj+er" are both acceptable.
    If an adverb is a multisyllabic word, only the form ,"more Adj+ly", is right.
    Are the two statements above right? The usages can be simply categorized like what is mentioned above ,right?
    As for the adjective "sad", I mean since "tight" (single syllabic word) can meanwhile be used as adverb or adjective, it's not a good example. (Using "more tightly or tighter" are both ok isn't that strange because the word has two syntactical funtions.) Nevertheless, the word "sad" (single syllabic word)in normal situations only is used as an adjective. (It doesn't fuction as an adverb.I've looked it up in a dictionary.) So, that's why I'm curious I should say "You should act sadder" or "You should act more sadly" or both forms are okay. According to what you say, I think and assume both forms are okay. (The "sad" case.)
    All in all, thank you for your patient and detailed responses.
    Last edited by terrenziqq; 27-Jul-2009 at 03:38.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Correct usage of "comparative and superlative phrases" when used as adverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by terrenziqq View Post
    If an adverb is a single syllabic word, in comparative situations "more Adj+ly" and "Adj+er" are both acceptable.
    Yes, generally, as long as it's not irregular like good/better/best.

    If an adverb is a multisyllabic word, only the form ,"more Adj+ly", is right.
    No, there's no necessary correlation between a multisyllable adverb, and the form of the adjective.
    "Tightly" is a multisyllable adverb, but "tighter" is the comparative adjective.

    Are the two statements above right? The first is
    The usages can be simply categorized like what is mentioned above ,right?
    No, you have to base the comparative and superlative on the base word. If you want comparative adjective, you can't base it on the form of the adverb.


    As for the adjective "sad", I mean since "tight" (single syllabic word) can meanwhile be used as adverb or adjective, it's not a good example. (Using "more tightly or tighter" are both ok isn't that strange because the word has two syntactical funtions.)
    Yes, it's strange, I guess - like a lot of things in language.

    Nevertheless, the word "sad" (single syllabic word)in normal situations only is used as an adjective. (It doesn't fuction as an adverb.I've looked it up in a dictionary.)
    Don't believe everything you read. One of the advantages of being able to ask questions here is that you can get a perspective that a single non-interactive, non-interrogatable dictionary entry won't give you.
    In colloquial speech, 'sad' can function as an adverb, although 'sadly' is the proper adverb.


    So, that's why I'm curious I should say "You should act sadder" or "You should act more sadly" or both forms are okay. According to what you say, I think and assume both forms are okay. (The "sad" case.)
    One's an adjective, the other's and adverb. The verb 'act' is difficult.
    There's a fine line between acting sadder and acting more sadly.
    Let's consider 'bad'.
    "You should act bad". You are playing a criminal. This means you should act as if you are bad.
    "You should act badly". This is different; it's bad advice to an actor.
    The same distinction applies to acting sad/sadly. But acting sadly is not necessarily a bad thing if you are trying to act sad.
    R.

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