Thursday, June 12, 2014

Avoid Comparing Adjectives That Are Absolute

Avoid Comparing Adjectives That Are Absolute

This post is a continuation of the tips I discussed last Thursday about avoiding errors in adjective and adverb comparisons. Click here if you missed it.

Today, we are going to take a look at adjectives that are absolute in their meaning, and they cannot be compared by using the comparative or superlative degree. Absolute adjectives stand alone.

Usually, when two things are being compared we use the comparative degree.  When more than two things are being compared, we use the superlative degree. Sometimes, however, the meaning of an adjective is absolute, and it cannot be compared.

Some examples of absolute adjectives include: absolute, round, straight, square, perfect, and unique.

Incorrect: My score on the exam was more perfect than anyone else’s.
Correct: My score on the exam was perfect.

Probably the most abused of these words is the adjective unique.
By definition it means there is only one of its kind, so it cannot be compared to another.

Incorrect: Your story was more unique than mine.
Correct: Your story was unique.

A less frequently used definition of the word unique is unusual. If, when you use the word unique, you mean that something is unusual, it is all right to compare it.

It would be better, however, to simply use the word unusual.

Next week, we will take a look at adjectives in the superlative degree that create sweeping generalizations. A sweeping generalization creates a statement that is too broad. 

For more information on the comparison of adjectives and adverbs, read my previous post.

I hope you are having one of the best summer vacations ever! 

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All the best,