Comparative, superlative: often

Discussion in 'English Only' started by majlo, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. Hello,
    What is the comparative and superlative of the adverb often? The most common version that I come across is the irregular one, that is more often and the most often. Have you every come across the regular one or do you know whether that one is grammaticaly correct? Thank you in advance. :)
     
  2. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Oftener (oftenest) as the comparitive and suplerative forms certainly exist.

    How often they are used is another matter entirely. I am more likely to use "more often," "most often" because that is how I was taught.

    I have heard "oftener" before, but it seems only in older (early 20th c. and before) texts.
     
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The OED agrees with GenJen.
    Examples of the use of oftener are quoted from The Bible (KJV), W Cowper, J Austen, C Darwin, T Hardy and the most recent, 1983 D Smith:
    Starlight Barking Pongo, strolling, under the stars, told himself he must count his blessings oftener.

    But I think more often and most often are more common now.
     
  4. mjscott Senior Member

    Hello,
    "What is the comparative and superlative of the adverb often? The
    most common version that I come across is the irregular one, that is more often and the most often...."

    "Oftener (oftenest) as the comparitive and suplerative forms certainly exist.

    How often they are used is another matter entirely. I am
    more likely to use "more often," "most often" because that is how I was taught.

    I have heard "oftener" before, but it seems only in older (early 20th c. and before) texts."


    ".... I think more often and most often are more common now."

    As with common and with likely, you are likely to find the most common use of the adverb often used with more and most in the comparative and superlative cases.
     
  5. mstewie08 Junior Member

    Ohio
    America
    There is nothing wrong with throwing an -er or -est on almost any word. There are a few exceptions such as the word "fun" but to be safe, just use what sounds good coming off your tongue. If it sounds weird, it most likely is.
     
  6. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    That may work for native speakers, but it's not much help for second language learners.
     
  7. mstewie08 Junior Member

    Ohio
    America
    True, but there really is no rule that defines when you should use -er or more.
     
  8. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    That's not true.

    The general rule is that you add -er and -est if the adjective/adverb consists of one syllable (faster, fastest; quicker, quickest; bigger, biggest; fatter, fattest) or is a two-syllable adjective ending in y (happier, happiest; funnier, funniest; rowdier, rowdiest). For other two-syllable adjectives/adverbs and adjectives/adverbs with three or more syllables, you use "more" and "most."

    There are a few exceptions, of course. You mentioned "fun," which takes "more" and "most," and apparently "often" can take -er and -est (although I was personally only familiar with the "more/most" versions). And of course, there are ones that are completely irregular, like "good, better, best."
     
  9. mjscott Senior Member

    Badly, worse, worst; far farther (or further), farthest (or furthest; little, less, least; much, more, most; well, better, best....
     
  10. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    :thumbsup: Thanks for adding to the list of exceptions.
     
  11. JediMaster Senior Member

    USA
    English, United States
    Although when I was taught, my teachers always said to use more or most often instead of "oftener." It may be regional, but you can't go wrong with using more or most.
     
  12. lawrencrj New Member

    English
    This is in reply to "you cannot go wrong by using 'more' or 'most' ".

    I am assuming that you mean you cannot go wrong by using "more" or "most" with bisyllabic or polysyllabic words. You certainly would be wrong to say, "more big" and "most big" ... and I kind of think that "more quiet" and "most quiet" would sound a little weird to most native speakers of English who are accustomed to saying "quieter" and quietest". I have checked several dictionaries and have not found one that includes information of this kind except by a lack of a word like "wronger" (where we certainly could say "more wrong" or "most wrong". In any case, I feel I would have done a disservice to my Russian friend who teaches English, if I didn't point out that using "more often" rather than "oftener" would get less attention and would be less apt to indicate that she was not a native speaker of English. I think it should be the goal of any teacher of English as a second language to help their student speak in a way that does not make it obvious that they aren't native speakers. Since I could find no dictionary or grammar text that dealt with this question in a definitive manner, I am hoping (and suspect there is) some survey that has been done to show the frequency with which verbs like "often" are used with "er" and "est" rather than "more" and "most". If there is I would send my Russian friend the link that give access to it and encourage her to memorize the most frequeently used forms for the 100 most frequently use adverbs. With regard to the word "stupider" that I saw elsewhere in the forum -- my advice would be to avoid the use of the word entirely, in which case it would not matter whether saying "stupider" or "more stupid" is more common.
     

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