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  1. #1
    Will17 is offline Senior Member
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    Cool the youngest/younger

    Hello!

    I understand the comparative et superlative structures. However, I don't understand why sometimes we see a comparative phrase instead of a superlative one:

    - The bigger wheel of this tractor is flat.

    -I have three children. The older is more sensitive that the two others.

    THank you for your help

    Will

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: the youngest/younger

    Tractors usually have two sizes of wheels. You can't have a "biggest" wheel unless there are at least three.

    In the second sentence, a comparison is being made between child A and child B, and child A and child C. A is more sensitive than either of them.

    You could write that A is the most sensitive of the three children, but it doesn't seem as natural as the original.

  3. #3
    Will17 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the youngest/younger

    Thank you Soothing Dave. My first example doesn't make any sense, indeed.


    what about :

    -The bigger wheels of the tractor are flat. (why not "the biggest"? )

    -I have three children. The older (why not "the oldest") is more sensitive that the two others.

    Thank you
    Will

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: the youngest/younger

    Quote Originally Posted by Will17 View Post
    Thank you Soothing Dave. My first example doesn't make any sense, indeed.


    what about :

    -The bigger wheels of the tractor are flat. (why not "the biggest"? )

    -I have three children. The older (why not "the oldest") is more sensitive that the two others.

    Thank you
    Will
    How many sizes of wheels does the tractor have? If there are only two, then use the comparative.

    I think that "oldest' should be used in your second example. It is not uncommon to see this done wrong in normal speech.

  5. #5
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    nyota is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the youngest/younger

    The older one is more sensitive than the two others (separately, as it were, more sensitive than B and more sensitive than C, as SoothingDave wrote).

    Mary's taller than her three sisters.

    Mary's the tallest of the four girls (you compare her to the whole group).

    Sometimes, you use a comparative instead of a superlative when the whole group has two memebers (How English Works by M. Swan, C. Walter) e.g. I like them both but Kate's the nicer/nicest of the two.

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