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  1. #1
    wace is offline Member
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    Default Redder.. or more red?

    I was reading an article the other day and came across two forms of comparative with the word 'red'.
    How to make apples redder
    and How to make your lips more red

    Funny, I thought. Doesn't the rule of one-syllable adjective apply to colours? I would have used 'redder' in the second sentence, too.

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Quote Originally Posted by wace View Post
    I was reading an article the other day and came across two forms of comparative with the word 'red'.
    How to make apples redder
    and How to make your lips more red

    Funny, I thought. Doesn't the rule of one-syllable adjective apply to colours? I would have used 'redder' in the second sentence, too.

    Thanks
    Yes, it's correct to say or write "redder", and the rule applies to colors as well. However, this "rule" is based on common usage by native speakers. In other words, first the pattern was observed and then it was decided that this pattern is a "rule". However, we do hear and read, though I wouldn't say too often, that speakers and writers deviate from the common pattern or "rule" when it comes to comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.

    Exceptions to the "rule" could seem arbitrary. For example, we say "more fun", and it is incorrect to say "funner". So what's to stop someone from feeling more comfortable saying "more red" than saying "redder"?

    There are times when rules are better called "guidelines" than "rules". So while it's correct to say "redder", I would not necessarily say that a native speaker of English who says or writes "more red" has poor language skills or that breaking this "rule" is representative of uneducated language, necessarily.

    Some of the more intelligent people in the world often speak on National Public Radio, and I hear that some of these speakers sometimes don't follow all the "rules" as codified in English grammar books and references and as taught, perhaps in a very rigid way, to English language learners.
    Last edited by PROESL; 01-Sep-2009 at 15:34. Reason: typo extra letter

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    wace is offline Member
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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    PROESL, your explanations are delightfully convincing (though they sometimes shake the 'castle of certitudes' I have patiently built over the years as a diligent rule-abiding teacher...)
    Just kidding, thank you so much for your contributions.

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    orangutan is offline Member
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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post

    Exceptions to the "rule" could seem arbitrary. For example, we say "more fun", and it is incorrect to say "funner". So what's to stop someone from feeling more comfortable saying "more red" than saying "redder"?
    Is "fun" really an adjective? I would have thought that at least etymologically it isn't, which would explain why it doesn't have a comparative form like a normal adjective.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Is "fun" really an adjective? I would have thought that at least etymologically it isn't, which would explain why it doesn't have a comparative form like a normal adjective.
    No, fun isn't an adjective, and the comparative for "red" is "redder". It would be a mistake for any student to go away with the idea that the rules about comparatives are somehow "optional".
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 01-Sep-2009 at 17:18. Reason: correction.

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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Is "fun" really an adjective? I would have thought that at least etymologically it isn't, which would explain why it doesn't have a comparative form like a normal adjective.
    We had a fun time at the park.

    Yes, "fun" is an adjective. We can call it "informal", just as the dictionary does. However, "fun" used as an adjective is so widespread that it is impractical to say that it is not, and it is impractical to tell English language learners that a sentence such as "we had a fun time at the park" is wrong. It is correct.

    The use of "fun" as an adjective is well into the millions, as we can see in these quick sample searches from Google.

    fun: Definition, Synonyms from Answers.com


    "a fun time" - Google Search

    They're fun to be around. - This is correct, and it's just the sort of thing that people say every day.

    "fun to be around" - Google Search


    fun: Definition, Synonyms from Answers.com

    USAGE NOTE The use of fun as an attributive adjective, as in a fun time, a fun place, probably originated in a playful reanalysis of the use of the word in sentences such as It is fun to ski, where fun has the syntactic function of adjectives such as amusing or enjoyable. The usage became popular in the 1950s and 1960s, though there is some evidence to suggest that it has 19th-century antecedents, but it can still raise eyebrows among traditionalists. The day may come when this usage is entirely unremarkable, but writers may want to avoid it in more formal contexts.

    For me and many others, that day has arrived.
    Last edited by PROESL; 01-Sep-2009 at 20:18.

  7. #7
    orangutan is offline Member
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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Which is why I was careful to say "etymologically".

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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Michael Swan, Practical Engish Usage

    Page 185 Section 210

    Fun is normally an uncountable noun. It can be used after be to say that things or people are enjoyable or entertaining.

    The party was fun, wasn't it.
    Anne and Eric are a lot of fun.
    So Michael has no problem using "fun" as a predicate adjective.

    Here's the next part of his usage note on "fun"


    In informal English, fun can also be used as an adjective before a noun.

    That was a real fun party.
    It's not practical to hold ELLs to a particular standard while native speakers don't even give this "standard" a thought. Native speakers use "fun" as an adjective every day.
    Last edited by PROESL; 01-Sep-2009 at 18:46.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Additional note:
    .
    The use of "funner" has apparently caught on amongst younger folk. (We old fogies will, no doubt, stick to "more fun".)
    .

    As for "more red", most native speakers would find that usage unremarkable.


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    Default Re: Redder.. or more red?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Which is why I was careful to say "etymologically".
    That's quite understandable, and I admit I overlooked that part of your post. However, ESL speakers, or ELLs, want to know what they can say.

    Can-I-say questions do not mean "tell me the most traditionalist and conservative point of view regarding my question". Can-I-say questions are practical inquiries into what one is able to say and be correct among native speakers who don't think about disputed usage or etymology. I do not in any way mean to say that your point about etymology is not valid. It certainly is. However, I think we should agree that practical guidance for ELLs is important.

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