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8 - Case Study 2

The Comparison of Adjectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2021

Roger Berry
Affiliation:
Lingnan University, Hong Kong
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Summary

The case study in this chapter aims to revise the way the comparison of adjectives is introduced pedagogically. The complex of rules which state that ‘one-syllable adjectives take “inflectional” (-er, -est) comparison, while three-syllable adjectives take “phrasal” (more, most) comparison’, followed by varying refinements of both for two-syllable adjectives, is challenged, on the basis of a corpus study of such forms. It is shown that several words break these ‘rules’, for example real, whose comparative form is almost always more real. Various factors are suggested as influencing the choice between the two options, in particular frequency: rare words are more likely (‘likelier’?) to take phrasal comparison. Suggestions for a revised rule are given, along with practical exercises. The chapter demonstrates the relevance of corpus analysis in devising appropriate advice for learners.

Type
Chapter
Information
Doing English Grammar
Theory, Description and Practice
, pp. 168 - 183
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Berry, Roger. 1994. ‘Blackpool would be a nice place unless there were so many tourists’: some misconceptions about English grammar. Studia Anglica Posnaniensis XXVIII: 101112.Google Scholar
Berry, Roger. 2015. Grammar myths. Language Awareness 24/1: 1537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berry, Roger. 2018. English Grammar: A Resource Book for Students. 2nd edn. Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Biber, Douglas, Johannsson, Stig, Leech, Geoffrey, Conrad, Susan and Finegan, Edward. 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow: Longman, 260269.Google Scholar
Hilpert, Martin. 2008. The English comparative: language structure and language use. English Language and Linguistics 12/3: 395417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huddleston, Rodney and Pullum, Geoffrey K.. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey and Svartvik, Jan. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Harlow: Longman, 265287.Google Scholar
Scrivener, Jim. 2010. Teaching English Grammar. London: Macmillan Education.Google Scholar
Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard. 1987. Learner English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

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  • Case Study 2
  • Roger Berry, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Book: Doing English Grammar
  • Online publication: 02 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108325745.010
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  • Case Study 2
  • Roger Berry, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Book: Doing English Grammar
  • Online publication: 02 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108325745.010
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Case Study 2
  • Roger Berry, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Book: Doing English Grammar
  • Online publication: 02 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108325745.010
Available formats
×