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English Bloopers: Tips to ace those tricky adjectives!
Praveen Madhukar Naik, R S Swaminathan
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June 27, 2007

Adjectives spice up our speech and enhance our writing. They help us describe the people, places and things around us. Unfortunately, adjectives in English can be quite a challenge. They are full of exceptions and confusion, especially for those not familiar with the language. 

Thankfully, 26-year-old Praveen Madhukar Naik from Bangalore, sent us a lengthy list explaining their proper use. He writes:

Every adjective can be written in an absolute (small), comparative (smaller) and superlative form (smallest).

There are four ways in which the comparative form can be used:

1. In some cases, 'more' and 'most' is added before the adjective, for comparative and superlative respectively. 

Take a look at the following sentences, where the wrong comparative form of the adjective has been used:

~ This flower is beautifuller than that flower.
~ The tiger is the beautifullest animal in the world!

~ In the future, be honester.
~ My mother is the honestest lady I know.

Instead, use:

~ This flower is more beautiful than that flower.
~ The tiger is the most beautiful animal in the world!

~ In the future, be more honest.
~ My mother is the most honest lady I know.

2. In other adjectives, just add 'er' for comparative and 'est' for superlative.

~ He runs more fast than you.
~ He is the most fast boy in my class!

~ Have you ever received a more warm reception?
~ This is the most warm I've ever felt!

Try this:

~ He runs faster than you.
~ He is the fastest boy in my class!

~ Have you ever received a warmer reception?
~ This is the warmest I've ever felt!

3. With some adjectives, as in the case of good and bad for example, the whole word changes.

~ She is a gooder student than me.
~ She is the goodest
cook in Mumbai.

~ He is a badder chess player than you.
~ He is the baddest author on the planet!

This should be:

~ She is a better student than me.
~ She is the best cook in Mumbai!

~ He is a worse chess player than you.
~ He is the worst author on the planet!

4. In some cases, the adjective can be written in comparative and superlative form in more than one way.

~ Be more gentle with the kitten.
~ Your sister is the most gentle person I know!

~ We were more quiet than mice.
~ Is this the most quiet you've ever been?

This is also correct:

~ Be gentler with the kitten.
~ Your sister is the gentlest person I know!

~ We were quieter than mice.
~ Is this the quietest you've ever been?

R S Swaminathan from Mumbai shows what happens when we misplace adjectives. The 50-year-old was attending a function and the speaker presented an award to someone. He said, 'As a token of our small appreciation, we present...'

Obviously, he meant to say, 'As a small token of our appreciation, we present..'

As you can see, adjectives have many rules and exceptions in the English language. Don't despair; with practice and constant usage, you'll soon be a master. And if you make the occasional mistake, don't worry! Even native English speakers sometimes slip when dealing with these pesky adjectives.

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