Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1

    The cleverest ?

    This time there might be nothing wrong with the multiple choice questions, but I am hard put to it anyway.

    The answer choices are :

    "Of their two sons, John was ... clever... .

    A) ... the ...est
    B) ... (nothing) ... est
    C) ... the most ... (nothing)
    D) ... the ... er"

    My first reaction was to hesitate between A) and C) (seeing both "most clever" and "cleverest" are heard in English.) But then I discovered quite a few occurrences of "the cleverer of the two" (or something like that) on Google - even on uk sites.

    I am at a loss what to think. Once again, only one answer is supposed to be acceptable.

    May I ask for your help once more ?

    With many thanks in advance.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: May 2005
    • Posts: 2,045
    #2

    Re: The cleverest ?

    I like: "Of their two sons, John was the more clever."

    I don't agree with chooices A, B, and C because I would never use the superlative (most or ...est) when comparing only two items.

    I wouldn't choose choice D because I don't like to write words that are difficult to say, such as cleverer; they interrupt the smooth flow of words that should be in the reader's ear.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: May 2005
    • Posts: 2,045
    #3

    Re: The cleverest ?

    If one of the choices given has to be correct, then it is choice D. D uses the comparative form rather than the superlative which is the correct form to use when comparing two things.

  2. #4

    Re: The cleverest ?

    But I think there would be no "the" there?


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 1,335
    #5

    Re: The cleverest ?

    Hi,
    I think it's the one who is more clever.
    And you can do without the article. As to me, I like cleverer more and as easy as explorer, murderer.

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #6

    Re: The cleverest ?

    I'm the odd one out.

    Of their two sons, John was __________.
    A) the cleverest <superlative>
    B) cleverest <needs "the">
    C) the most clever <at doing what? Means, very clever>
    D) the cleverer <not a superlative>

  4. #7

    Re: The cleverest ?

    Hello,

    And thanks to all of you for your help.

    I eventually managed to find the answer in a grammar book (D is expected here). (I should have looked it up from the beginning. Shame on me.)

    What I had been taught is that the comparative is used when you want to compare two elements and the superlative when you want to single out one element of a group, which is not very helpful in the present case because a group may be a group of two.

    But the subrule I found is this : when the group is reduced to two elements, the comparative is used : I'll buy the cheaper book.

    Thanks for your help. Your reactions are very useful to me, for they highlight the difference between prescriptive grammar and language in use.

  5. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #8

    Re: The cleverest ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephan Wilhelm View Post
    But the subrule I found is this : when the group is reduced to two elements, the comparative is used : I'll buy the cheaper book.
    Very clever.

    Thanks, Stephen.

  6. #9

    Re: The cleverest ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    I'm the odd one out.

    Of their two sons, John was __________.
    A) the cleverest <superlative>
    B) cleverest <needs "the">
    C) the most clever <at doing what? Means, very clever>
    D) the cleverer <not a superlative>
    No, no, if you use between 2 people, you must you" the cleverer"


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 1,335
    #10

    Re: The cleverest ?

    I am happy to get some new info from M. Swan:

    "We use a superlative to compare sth/smb with the whole group it/he/she belongs to.
    When a group only has two members we sometimes use a comparative instead of a superlative.
    I like Betty and Maude, but Betty is the nicer/nicest of the two.

    Some people feel that a superlative is incorrect in this case."

    A very flexible approach…

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •