“bigger” vs. “more big”

2018-06-22 14:57:33

As we know, comparatives compare two things. So, for example, we say that one thing is larger or more temperate than another thing.

Now, let us consider the following examples.

A. The African elephant has bigger ears than the Indian elephant.

B. The African elephant has more big ears than the Indian elephant.

If A is "standard" English, why isn't B acceptable English? Is there a grammatical rule that impedes the more big comparative in B?

If this rule exists, why doesn't that apply to "He is more temperate than Carlo, and he chooses words carefully."—which is "standard" and acceptable English?

@J.R. is absolutely correct, and has provided an excellent example of the kind of ambiguity that can result when basic comparative adjective grammar rules are not followed. But the basic, teachable, and, in an EFL/ESL context, extremely relevant reason that bigger is correct, and more big is ungrammatical as a comparative adjective is because those rules have not

  • @J.R. is absolutely correct, and has provided an excellent example of the kind of ambiguity that can result when basic comparative adjective grammar rules are not followed. But the basic, teachable, and, in an EFL/ESL context, extremely relevant reason that bigger is correct, and more big is ungrammatical as a comparative adjective is because those rules have not been observed. The rules for forming comparative adjectives are fairly straightforward: (1) for one-syllable adjectives, add -er, (2) for two-syllable adjectives ending in -y, change the -y to -i and add -er, and (3) for two-syllable adjectives not ending in -y and all three-or-more-syllable adjectives, use the form "more + adjective".

    There are exceptions to these rules, such as fun, the comparative of which is more fun even though it is only one syllable. Another example is often, which is as commonly rendered comparatively using oftener as it is more often. But @Carlo_R was asking for the grammar rules, and I

    2018-06-22 15:10:59
  • Careful! When you use the word more, it might mean something else. For example, Sentence B could be paraphrased like this:

    The Indian elephant has two big ears, but the African elephant has three.

    Don't use more when the context can be confused with quantity.

    2018-06-22 15:38:08
  • 'Why?' is a difficult question in grammar. It's not like some great designer created the language out of thin error, planning and constructing things to be as logical as possible.

    Some grammar rules apply everywhere, and some rules have exceptions, and those exceptions have exceptions, except when people feel like saying something else.

    The rule for comparatives in English is to say 'more X'.

    The exception is, if X is short, then say 'X-er'. Usually 'short' means one syllable.

    But short is not always obvious. If this shirt is red, but that one has more in it, then it is redder. If this one is purple the other one is more purple. But if this one is yellow... officially the other one is more yellow, but informally people will often say 'yellower'.

    Why is there this rule? Language doesn't follow logic strictly (unless it feels like it). One can give a history of the effect, one can give logical justifications why one is easier to understand, (I personally think 'bigger' sounds be

    2018-06-22 16:04:25
  • I disagree with many of you. I'm a native speaker of English and have been teaching EFL for 12 years, but I wouldn't say 'more big' is incorrect. Yes, it is awkward to say 'more big', and as @J.R. pointed out, it could become confusing if 'more' suggests a greater quantity of something. However, if you look beyond course book grammar sections and delve deeper into English grammar, you'll find that the terms 'correct' or 'just plain wrong' shouldn't be applied to rules so readily.

    Tell me: what is the grammar rule that states outright that 'more big' is wrong? Could you not say 'less big'? I mean, there is a difference between saying something is smaller and something is less big. So the same grammar applies - adverb of degree + adjective.

    Yes, you'd sound very awkward if you went around saying 'more big', 'more tall', 'more small' or even 'more funny', but please show me explicitly why it would be 'just plain wrong'.

    And by the way, J.R., nobody says 'oftener', because often is a

    2018-06-22 16:19:46
  • Sorry, but I know (thanks to my studies of the English grammar, many years ago) that we can say "bigger" cause "big" is a monosyllabic word, whereas "temperate" is trisyllabic and it cannot support the suffix "-er", in fact "temperater" would be ambiguous and too long to speak...maybe I'm wrong...So, I think there's no problem to say also "more big"....I don't know if it's forbidden at all

    2018-06-22 16:22:28
  • You can say bigger or more big. Look here's an example," My dad is bigger than you" or, " My dad more big than you." See, look, more big is like a more polite way of saying it. Or with other -e-r-s. "You are most nice." It even works with most.

    2018-06-22 16:38:42