Saturday, June 03, 2006

Attack your Grammar...

How many niggling little grammar rules is nipping at your toes at any giving moment? Perhaps, relieved of your work-a-day brain settings, your modifiers begin to dangle. Perfect grammar is something you need to work on. I urge you to not overlook this. We need to stop our putting of bad grammar into the environment, which kills the language.

OK, enough of that. I've been bothered by my comparatives and superlatives lately. How do you know if this ocean is "more blue" or "bluer" than that one? Is that cat the "finickiest" or the "most finicky"? The temptation is just to go by sound. "The beautifullest monkey in Spain" sounds wrong. But what's the rule?

Simple. Mostly. It comes down to syllables. One syllable words get the er/est treatment. Fat, fatter, fattest. Tame, tamer, tamest. (However, if you are right, wrong, or real, you are in need of more.) Three syllable words get the more/most ad-on: More glamorous than the most expensive jewels. That should get you through most of the day. But there are a few not so uncommon areas that are most irregular. Namely two syllable words... Is the water "shallower" here or "more shallow" over there? Well, technically both are right. Many two syllable words can go both ways. Two syllable words that end in "-ful, -less, -ing, -ed, or -ous" are going to take the more/most prefix. That's more useful to remember in the most pressing moments. On the other hand, two syllable words that end in a "y" almost always take the er/est endings.
It's prettier and tidier that way.

So that's all good when the values of things are increasing. But then there are times where the degree of comparison isn't always more more more... Sometimes we need to indicate that one thing is inferior to another. Lying about blow jobs? Excusable. Wars? Not so much. When we are making the not-so-much comparison, less and least are the only options open to us, unless we use the construction not I'm not as itchy today as I was yesterday. I am less itchy today than I was yesterday. This is the least uncomfortable of my wool sweaters. Often this less streamlined grammatical option can be replaced with sleeker adjectives. Is it less cool than yesterday? Yes, it is definitely warmer.


Blogger Alcuin Bramerton said...

Aim at concision. Prolixity sucks.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous hubs said...

Just tell me if I'm getting stupider.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Babycakes said...

I'm reading your blog on a PC. I usually read it on a Mac and it (the fontalismier) is so biggeresty than it usuallyest is.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How many little grammar rules is nipping..."

Shouldn't it be "are nipping"?


5:09 AM  
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