“More clear” vs “Clearer”: when to use “more” instead of “-er”?

Adjectives in the English language can be tricky enough to get correct, especially with the various transformations they undergo and their ensuing irregularities. There are, however, certain rules of thumb that help keep various grammatical patterns straight. These rules can be applied to adjectives – specially comparatives – as well.

A comparative adjective is one that states someone as being more of one thing than another. An example of this is of course “clear”. Yet, in using this adjective, the question might arise: “clearer”? Or… “more clear”? Which is the correct comparative adjective or expression to use. Fortunately, the answer is that either of these variations are considered grammatically correct. It predominantly comes down to personal preference and especially ease of speech.

One useful tip to use when recalling whether or not an adjective requires “more” or can take a different comparative form is to consider how many syllables it has. Words with a single syllable are often readily transformable into an “-er” comparative. “Clear” is just one example of this. It’s not necessary to define something as “more clear” as its single syllable form can easily adapt to an “-er” ending to form “clearer”. Other examples adjectives that easily transform like that would include “new” and “newer”, “hard” and “harder”, “slow” and “slower”, “short” and “shorter”. On the other hand, one would make “dangerous” into “more dangerous”, “handsome” into “more handsome”, and “beautiful” into “more beautiful”. Again, this rule of thumb merely serves as a guide for comparative adjectives.


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