comparative x superlative

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AdeExpress

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Hi there,

I'd like to know which one is correct to say:

> Some people learn better by going to a class. :?:

> Some people learn best by going to a class. :?:

Or maybe both are corret?

Thanks a lot :lol:

Ademilson
 

TheParser

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Hi there,

I'd like to know which one is correct to say:

> Some people learn better by going to a class. :?:

> Some people learn best by going to a class. :?:

Or maybe both are corret?

Thanks a lot :lol:

Ademilson


***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good afternoon, Ademilson.

(1) Hopefully, one of the teachers will soon tell you and me the answer.

(2) May I just offer these ideas:

(a) Maybe many native speakers think both are "correct."

(b) Most books tell us that the comparative and superlative of adverbs are

used the same as the comparative and superlative of adverbs. That is,

use the comparative when two things are compared; use superlative when

three or more things are compared.

(i) Of course, there are many exceptions to the "rule."

(c) Here is a sentence from Mr. L. G. Alexander's very popular LONGMAN

ENGLISH GRAMMAR:

I work FASTEST when I'm under pressure.

(i) Mr. Alexander used the superlative. Many (maybe!) because of all the

different working conditions that are possible, the condition of my being

under pressure makes me work fastest.

(d) So let's look at your examples:

(i) Some people learn BETTER by going to class.

(a) Maybe (maybe) that means that they learn better by going to class THAN some other way (for example, taking classes on the Internet).

(ii) Some people learn BEST by going to class. Of the many ways to learn (going to class, taking classes on the Internet, hiring a tutor, being an apprentice, taking correspondence courses), going to class is how some people learn best of all.

Have a nice day!
 

sarat_106

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***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good afternoon, Ademilson.

(1) Hopefully, one of the teachers will soon tell you and me the answer.

(2) May I just offer these ideas:

(a) Maybe many native speakers think both are "correct."

(b) Most books tell us that the comparative and superlative of adverbs are

used the same as the comparative and superlative of adverbs. That is,

use the comparative when two things are compared; use superlative when

three or more things are compared.

(i) Of course, there are many exceptions to the "rule."

(c) Here is a sentence from Mr. L. G. Alexander's very popular LONGMAN

ENGLISH GRAMMAR:

I work FASTEST when I'm under pressure.

(i) Mr. Alexander used the superlative. Many (maybe!) because of all the

different working conditions that are possible, the condition of my being

under pressure makes me work fastest.

(d) So let's look at your examples:

(i) Some people learn BETTER by going to class.

(a) Maybe (maybe) that means that they learn better by going to class THAN some other way (for example, taking classes on the Internet).

(ii) Some people learn BEST by going to class. Of the many ways to learn (going to class, taking classes on the Internet, hiring a tutor, being an apprentice, taking correspondence courses), going to class is how some people learn best of all.

Have a nice day!

Nice explanations which make things clear. Like many different conditions of working, there can also be many ways of learning. So here both are possible. See this example:
Some people learn better in groups while others learn best by themselves,
 

2006

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Nice explanations which make things clear. Using capitalization and punctuation means that you think it is a complete sentence. It's not a sentence.

Some people learn better in groups while others learn best by themselves,
The above 'sentence' is not (internally consistent)(correct).
2006
 

sarat_106

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I am unable to find my mistakes. Will please correct them? I would still feel more happy if you contribute something to the subject in question.
 
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Raymott

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I am unable to find my mistakes. Will please correct them?
I think he's referring to your ellipted sentence: " [They are] Nice explanations, which make things clear." I don't consider this wrong, but it is not as clear as the more usual "Nice job!" or similar. I wonder if 2006 would object to "Nice work!"

Some people learn better in groups while others learn best by themselves.
This is wrong because you are comparing two incomparable things - groups who learn better with X and groups who learn best with Y. This could be the same group - the group who learns better with X than W, but best with Y.
" John learns better in groups than he does in a crowded lecture hall, but he learns best by himself."
 

sarat_106

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I think he's referring to your ellipted sentence: " [They are] Nice explanations, which make things clear." I don't consider this wrong, but it is not as clear as the more usual "Nice job!" or similar. I wonder if 2006 would object to "Nice work!"

Some people learn better in groups while others learn best by themselves.
This is wrong because you are comparing two incomparable things - groups who learn better with X and groups who learn best with Y. This could be the same group - the group who learns better with X than W, but best with Y.
" John learns better in groups than he does in a crowded lecture hall, but he learns best by himself."

I think this can be expreesd this way:
Some people learn better in groups but many prefer to learn best by themselves,
 

Raymott

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I think this can be expreesd this way:
Some people learn better in groups but many [STRIKE]prefer to[/STRIKE] learn best by themselves,
I don't think so. That still contains the same problem, as I demonstrated.
John can still learn best by himself and also learn better in groups than in a crowd.
You're still making wrong comparisons. If you left out "but" and started a new sentence, there'd be no grounds for objection. You could also change both to "best".
Some people learn best in groups but many learn best by themselves. That's a valid comparison.

Note that you can't "prefer to learn best" in either situation. That just adds another complication to your comparison.
John could still actually learn better in groups but prefer to learn better by himself (if he had a choice).
 

2006

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I think he's referring to your ellipted sentence: " [They are] Nice explanations, which make things clear." I don't consider this wrong,
I'm not sure I would call that an ellipsis. Both the subject and the main verb are missing. All we have left is a noun clause. It's meaning is understandable, but it's not a proper sentence, and in my opinion should not be marked as one.
Of course one problem is that some students could well think that the noun phrase is a proper complete English sentence..

but it is not as clear as the more usual "Nice job!" or similar. I wonder if 2006 would object to "Nice work!" again, not a sentence and shouldn't have the markings of one
I would write it as 'nice work!' (the bold just for clarity)

There is an extremely strong tendency here to capitalize and punctuate 'everything', seemingly often without much thought about the appropriateness or not of doing so.

My feeling is that if it's not a sentence don't punctuate it as one.

I Would just say 'nice explanations which make things clear', or even 'nice explanations, made things clear'.

And doing so would possibly have another benefit, which would be to introduce some 'oral language' to this site.

We would have capitalization and punctuation for proper sentences, and neither for 'oral' English. Of course there would be some examples that we might disagree about as to which category they belong to.

That's my opinion. :)
2006
 

TheParser

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I think this can be expreesd this way:
Some people learn better in groups but many prefer to learn best by themselves,

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good morning, Sarat.

(1) Like about 100 other people, I have been following this thread with especial interest.

(2) One of the best teachers at this site stated that your sentence ("Some people learn better in groups but many learn best by themselves" is problematic.

(3) He states, however, that it would be correct if it were changed to two sentences: Some people learn better in groups. Many learn best by themselves.

(4) I recently discussed this with an experienced teacher who grades ESL examination papers. She doesn't understand either why the sentence in No. 2 is rejected, but the sentence in No. 3 is accepted.

(5) I hope someone will use very simple baby steps to explain the problem to me. I am a very slow learner.

Have a nice day!
 

MASM

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Wow, what an interesting thread!. I posted something similar asking about "I like best or I like better" "You know better" and "You know best"

What I understood is that to use "better" in the original sentence in this thread you need something to compare it to "Some students work better in groups than in pairs" but "best" is the preferred option among all the possible options we may have "Some students work best on their own" The best way for them to work is alone.
 

Raymott

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I'd be interested in 2006's explication of the problem with this sentence, since he was the one who objected to it. I was only trying to explain why it was not good. Maybe 2006 has a completely different view of its deficiencies?
 

mayita1usa

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Responding as best I can to the last bit on this thread:

(2) One of the best teachers at this site stated that your sentence ("Some people learn better in groups but many learn best by themselves" is problematic.

(3) He states, however, that it would be correct if it were changed to two sentences: Some people learn better in groups. Many learn best by themselves.

(4) I recently discussed this with an experienced teacher who grades ESL examination papers. She doesn't understand either why the sentence in No. 2 is rejected, but the sentence in No. 3 is accepted.

Sentence (2) is problematic because the first clause contains the comparative better, while the second clause contains the superlative best - thus depriving the sentence of parallel construction.

Personally, I reject (3) as an acceptable alternative because it maintains the original inconsistencies.

My proposed reconstruction, if the intended meaning is just better, without implying a definitive "above all others" superlative:
(a) "Some people learn better in groups, but others learn better by themselves." (Note that in the 2nd clause, both many and best have been replaced for consistency/parallelism.)
A second version, if you really mean the best, above all others, of many alternatives:
(b) "Some people learn best in groups, but others learn best by themselves."

Clearer, or more confusing? :?: (I hope not most confusing! ;-) )
 

mayita1usa

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What I understood is that to use "better" in the original sentence in this thread you need something to compare it to "Some students work better in groups than in pairs" but "best" is the preferred option among all the possible options we may have "Some students work best on their own" The best way for them to work is alone.

Absolutely correct!
Note, however, that in the example from this thread, the object of comparison is stated in the second clause (groups vs. by themselves), so "than" isn't required.

Also, be aware that native speakers often use "better" without directly stating an object of comparison. For example, take the stand-alone sentence:
- "Some students learn better in groups."
This sentence implies the comparison "than they do by all the alternative methods we've tried so far, but we may not have discovered the best one yet!"
I hope that makes sense!
 

2006

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I'd be interested in 2006's explication of the problem with this sentence, since he was the one who objected to it. I was only trying to explain why it was not good. Maybe 2006 has a completely different view of its deficiencies?

"Some people learn better in groups while others learn best by themselves,"

No, I think my objection is very similar to yours.

There was no setup context that might have made the sentence correct. I think sarat_106 just made up that sentence in an attempt to show that both "better" and "best" could be correct.


2006
 

TheParser

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Responding as best I can to the last bit on this thread:



Sentence (2) is problematic because the first clause contains the comparative better, while the second clause contains the superlative best - thus depriving the sentence of parallel construction.

Personally, I reject (3) as an acceptable alternative because it maintains the original inconsistencies.

My proposed reconstruction, if the intended meaning is just better, without implying a definitive "above all others" superlative:
(a) "Some people learn better in groups, but others learn better by themselves." (Note that in the 2nd clause, both many and best have been replaced for consistency/parallelism.)
A second version, if you really mean the best, above all others, of many alternatives:
(b) "Some people learn best in groups, but others learn best by themselves."

Clearer, or more confusing? :?: (I hope not most confusing! ;-) )


***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Good morning, Mayita1usa.

(1) I, for one, thank you indeed for your clear explanation.

(2) It has really helped me a lot.

(3) By the way, one of the teachers did, indeed, suggest changing both adverbs to "best."

(4) It seems that parallelism is the keyword here.

(5) Nevertheless, I have no doubt that most native speakers would be very comfortable with something like:

I personally learn better in larger classes, but I know that some people claim that they learn best in smaller classes.

Who knows? Maybe even some (many?) university professors would not be overly critical of such a non-parallel sentence.

Thanks again and have a nice day.
 

2006

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(4) It seems that parallelism is the keyword here.

I don't think parallelism is the issue. The issue is having a good reason for using the words one does.

I would say 'I personally learn better in larger classes (than smaller ones), but I know that some people claim that they learn best of all in smaller classes.'
Adding "of all" legitimizes the use of "best", because it opens the comparison to all methods that "some people" have used. (not to just two methods)

I learn better in small classes than in large classes, but I learn best in a one-on-one situation.
Again "best" is correct because three methods are being compared.
2006
 

mayita1usa

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I think parallelism is one key - but the bigger key is understanding what we really mean to say, and then choosing the most accurate way of expressing it.

IMHO, that's the whole purpose of studying and using grammar rules! :cool: The beauty and frustration of language is that we can, if we know what we're doing, manipulate it to serve our individual purposes. In that sense, a huge variety of constructions could be "correct" (in spite of breaking so-called "rules") if they use grammar to accurately express our intended meanings.
N'est-ce pas?
 

Abstract Idea

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I may be wrong, but I'll write my opinion.

There is an extremely strong tendency here to capitalize and punctuate 'everything', seemingly often without much thought about the appropriateness or not of doing so.

My feeling is that if it's not a sentence don't punctuate it as one.

I Would just say 'nice explanations which make things clear', or even 'nice explanations, made things clear'.

And doing so would possibly have another benefit, which would be to introduce some 'oral language' to this site.

We would have capitalization and punctuation for proper sentences, and neither for 'oral' English. Of course there would be some examples that we might disagree about as to which category they belong to.

That's my opinion. :)


This is an interesting point. I have been reading this claim of 2006 here and in other threads. But personally I like to punctuate everything.

As a child I was firstly taught (in Portuguese) that punctuation was used in an attempt to "oralize" the writing, characterizing for instance intonation (!,?) and breath pauses (,). Of course that was just a technique to give a child a first glance on the much more complicated matter of punctuation. But it still comes to my mind whenever I write or read something.

From now on, whenever I punctuate something which is not a sentence
I will remember 2006 advices, even if I don't want to ("don't think of a white polar bear!") - but I will keep on doing it.

Finally I would like to add that previously I had never heard or read such recommendations of not punctuating what is not a sentence in any language at all. (But I have to say that although I am not a young teenager anymore I am not any kind of language professional.)


Nice explanations which make things clear.

I would have written (and punctuated) it the same way as sarat_106 above.

I may be wrong, and maybe in the future I may change my mind, but I guess I share the same "learning speed" as TheParser:
I am a very slow learner.
So am I !
 
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