Friday, April 15, 2011

The Long and the Short of it - The Adjective Edition

Blouse & pumps, Banana Republic. Jeans, Gap. Pearls, gift. Belt, Eddie Bauer.

I chose a basic grammatical issue today (cue the virtual eye-rolls) because it's Friday and I don't want to be that teacher who ruins your weekend with heaps of homework. We're taking it easy... I'm wearing jeans, for goodness' sake!

My head explodes when I read something like this: "more safe." Most people instinctively know to change that to "safer," but I'd like to address the grammar rules behind this choice. To make a long story short, you can form the comparative and superlative forms by adding -er and -est to short adjectives, and more and the most to long adjectives. SHORT adjectives contain one or two syllables and LONG adjectives contain two or more syllables. Whoa there, Nellie! There's some serious overlapping going on.

Two-syllable adjectives run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, so they're trickier. Many of these are considered long (more thoughtful/careless/famous/modern/charming/pleasant). The exceptions arise when they end in -Y (naughtier), -LE (simpler), -OW (narrower), -ER (cleverer). Cleverer?!? Are you kidding me? No, but  you are not crazy in thinking that sounds strange and somewhat unpronounceable (30 Rock best illustrates this in an episode where Jenna's movie is called The Rural Juror and no one can understand what she's saying). Despite these rules and exceptions, there are some adjectives that literally play for both teams. Clever, gentle, simple, handsome, quiet, and friendly are the most common ones. Brits tend to treat these as short adjectives (I dare you to revisit your dog-eared copy of Pride & Prejudice), whereas North Americans find it easier to just add more and the most, pronunciation-wise.

NOTE: If you're new to my blog and this post has piqued your curiosity, you can find more grammatical issues addressed here, here, and here.

9 comments:

rlutz said...

I was surprised to see you in jeans...they look great on you, especially with those killer shoes.
I am ways learn something new, grammar wise, when I visit your blog!

Jess said...

Your legs look a million miles long! It drives me insane when people don't qualify adjectives correctly. "More better" is one I hear often where I live and I can't stand it.

Judy C said...

Great blog and you look super. But please, spelling. I get on Craigslist and I'm sorry to say the people in my area can't spell.

Love at First Shoe said...

love the jeans look on you!

Jen HaHA said...

I like using cleverer. I feel like the cleverest person in the room when I use it. Will you address adverbs next? I read on another blog that they are useless or used by the lazy or something like that. I like adverbs! (Although adjectives are my fave so yay foe this post!) My boys learned adverbs at a young age through Mad Libs.

For some reason your first pic reminded me of Sandy from Grease. You know the part with the hot pants. Maybe because you're rockin' the skinny jeans!

Kinsey said...

Thanks for the grammar lesson, as well as the beautiful outfit post! It's nice to see you in a casual outfit. You look super cute!

Shea said...

Cleverer? Who knew? Despite my sometimes quickly penned (therefore un-proofread) comments, I'm a grammar junkie. So cute outfit AND grammar facts? I'm sold.

angie said...

I've just finished teaching my students these rules!I kind of like using more or most whenever I can. By the way you rock the jeans and heels look.

Colleen said...

I enjoyed your little lesson. I don't think I mess it up but I didn't know the rules and now this helps me trust my instinct (or not).

Colleen
http://scrapandrun.blogspot.com/