The dictionary says the word "former" and its adverb "formerly" are not gradable. According to the dictionary, a gradable adjective or adverb is one which can be used in the comparative or superlative, or which can be qualified by words such as 'very' or 'quite'.
What does that mean? Could anyone please give me some examples so that I can grasp the meaning?
There are five (I think) former presidents of the US alive. You don't say that Carter is 'more former' than Clinton, even though he was president earlier.
So when we say a former (position), that means the previous person has already passed away?
Originally Posted by tdol
It doesn't mean they have passed away (died) but that they no longer do that job. It's like 'ex-'.
To add to what Tdol said, if a former president dies he is no longer a former president but a dead president. Once a person stops doing something then use the word "former" until that person either starts doing it again or dies.
I am sorry.... :( I am still a bit confused...
Originally Posted by RonBee
I don't get what "not gradable" means...
could anyone please give me more examples..
Most adjectives can be used in a comparative way, and therefore you can make them gradable. For example Tall, Taller, Tallest. Beautiful, more beautiful, the most beautiful. This would be in a positive way, but we can also do it in a negative way, for example tall, less tall, the least tall. Beautiful, less beautiful, the least beautiful.
Originally Posted by bread
This adjective, former, cannot be used in the way. You cannot say "the most former president", or "a less former president".