Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

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Woods
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Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-09, 8:33

What is the correct way to build a phrase with two adjectives if one of them has a comparative form with -er and the other one doesn't?

They will make your situation a lot more messy and complicated.

or

They will make your situation a lot messier and complicated.

I would go for the first one but I'm not quite sure. Also, I want to make sure the second adjective is also defined by the adverb "a lot".

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-10-09, 13:04

The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative. With words that don't allow the analytic comparative so easily, you'll need to do something different from both your examples. For example, if you replace "messy", with "big", it sounds best to say, "a lot bigger and more complicated".
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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-09, 13:31

Dormouse559 wrote:The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative. With words that don't allow the analytic comparative so easily, you'll need to do something different from both your examples. For example, if you replace "messy", with "big", it sounds best to say, "a lot bigger and more complicated".

The reverse, "a lot more complicated and bigger", is grammatically acceptable but considered bad style.
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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Ciarán12 » 2018-10-09, 15:19

I'd say "a lot messier and more complicated".

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-10, 5:32

Dormouse559 wrote:The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative.

Either or?

I would never think that "more messy" sounds correct. Really?

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-10, 5:33

linguoboy wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative.

The reverse, "a lot more complicated and bigger", is grammatically acceptable but considered bad style.

Hey all of you, I'm not asking about changing the words here, but about the right way to make the chosen ones fit!

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-10, 5:35

Ciarán12 wrote:I'd say "a lot messier and more complicated".

Yeah, that sounds fine. Except that it kind of gets the focus on the two adjectives one by one, whereas the effect will be a little bit different if the two adjectives are defined as one - I kind of think of it like the two adjectives together have a common meaning if they're defined by the same adverb, while it feels like a list of separate things in the other case (maybe this is not the perfect example, but it's the one I had at hand.)

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Ciarán12 » 2018-10-10, 8:12

Woods wrote:Yeah, that sounds fine. Except that it kind of gets the focus on the two adjectives one by one, whereas the effect will be a little bit different if the two adjectives are defined as one - I kind of think of it like the two adjectives together have a common meaning if they're defined by the same adverb, while it feels like a list of separate things in the other case (maybe this is not the perfect example, but it's the one I had at hand.)


For me, as the difference in meaning is so little and there is no graceful alternative, I'd use "a lot messier and more complicated", as I said.
If I needed to make it 100% clear, I'd just repeat the adverb: "a lot messier and a lot more complicated".

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-10-10, 12:50

Ciarán12 wrote:I'd say "a lot messier and more complicated".

That also sounds fine to me. The treatment of some adjectives seems to be dependent on dialect. There's at least one adjective that I prefer in the synthetic comparative but which I've heard many people use in the analytic one. "Happy", I think.

Woods wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative.

Either or?

I would never think that "more messy" sounds correct. Really?

It sounds correct to me. Why would I suggest something that sounded wrong to me?

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:The first sentence is correct. That's partly because "messy" can take either the synthetic or the analytic comparative.

The reverse, "a lot more complicated and bigger", is grammatically acceptable but considered bad style.

Hey all of you, I'm not asking about changing the words here, but about the right way to make the chosen ones fit!

We know, but the underlying principle is important. I didn't want you to think that just any synthetic comparative could be replaced, so I gave a hypothetical example. And linguoboy used the example to show that word order matters, too.
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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-10, 15:56

Disyllabic adjectives ending in -y can take either the analytic or synthetic comparative. Offhand, I can't think of any exceptions.

This is also true of a number of other disyllabic adjectives including simple, clever, common, quiet, narrow, and stupid. Others with a similar phonetic shape take only the analytic (at least I've never heard ?certainer or ?vapider in my life even though Wiktionary has entries for them).

Most monosyllabic adjectives allow only the synthetic form, but even here there are exceptions, e.g. more loath, more worth, more chic, . (Again, Wiktionary lists ?chicer but I've never encountred this IRL.)

For a fairly comprehensive analysis: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:6690/FULLTEXT01.pdf.
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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-11, 8:07

Dormouse wrote:
Woods wrote:I would never think that "more messy" sounds correct. Really?

It sounds correct to me. Why would I suggest something that sounded wrong to me?

Just pointing it out :)


Indeed I found this article which suggests there are many adjectives where which type of comparative will be used is a matter of preference:

https://web.stanford.edu/dept/linguisti ... stract.pdf

I used to think that for most adjectives there's a correct way to form the comparative - wasn't aware it was due to the length of the word etc. - and the alternative would be rather bad English.


Thinking of my second suggestion:

They will make your situation a lot messier and complicated.

If you look at that, do you get the feeling that 'complicated' is also defined by the adverb or rather not?


linguoboy wrote:This is also true of a number of other disyllabic adjectives including simple, clever, common, quiet, narrow, and stupid.

I would never think of saying 'cleverer,' 'commoner,' 'stupider' or 'more narrow' - these ones sound very wrong to me.


linguoboy wrote:For a fairly comprehensive analysis: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/di ... TEXT01.pdf.

I'll check it out :)

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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby linguoboy » 2018-10-11, 14:27

Woods wrote:Thinking of my second suggestion:

They will make your situation a lot messier and complicated.

If you look at that, do you get the feeling that 'complicated' is also defined by the adverb or rather not?

I do, and it ends up sounding awkward as a result because "a lot complicated" is not something I would ordinarily say.

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:This is also true of a number of other disyllabic adjectives including simple, clever, common, quiet, narrow, and stupid.

I would never think of saying 'cleverer,' 'commoner,' 'stupider' or 'more narrow' - these ones sound very wrong to me.

All things being equal, I have a preference for "cleverer", "more common", "stupider", and "narrower". But the alternatives don't sound wrong and there are contexts in which I would prefer them, e.g.: "He's more clever than wise." "The commoner the better."
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Re: Comparative with the two different types of adjectives

Postby Woods » 2018-10-12, 12:56

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:This is also true of a number of other disyllabic adjectives including simple, clever, common, quiet, narrow, and stupid.

I would never think of saying 'cleverer,' 'commoner,' 'stupider' or 'more narrow' - these ones sound very wrong to me.

All things being equal, I have a preference for "cleverer", "more common", "stupider", and "narrower". But the alternatives don't sound wrong and there are contexts in which I would prefer them, e.g.: "He's more clever than wise." "The commoner the better."

Interesting :)


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