Alex gave more right answers than John

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Hello teachers,

I remember once a native English speaker told me "Alex gave more right answers than John" is a correct sentence.

But I have some problem with that sentence.

Why(more right) is correct but (righter) is incorrect? Aren't they both comparative? Aren't they same?

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • Liam Lew's

    Senior Member
    I can't tell if "righter" is correct/incorrect and why it is that way. I just want to point out that the sentence could also mean that the amount of Alex' correct answers were higher than John's, I think.

    To me "Alex gave righter answers than John" sounds a little strange.
     
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    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Sidestepping the ambiguity with a rewrite: "Alex gave answers that were more right than John's". (Whatever that means)

    As you know, sb, 'right' is not a gradable adjective, nevertheless the sentence forces you to reinterpret 'right' as being gradable, and so come up with a new meaning for it (for 'right').

    I would contend that the native ear simply rejects 'righter' on the basis that it's wholly unfamiliar; this is largely due to its non-existence, of course.

    In a way, using 'more right' telegraphs the weirdness of its coinage, and to an extent it acts like "inverted commas for the mind", allowing your interlocutor a chance to process incoming guff.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Now I completely understood it. As Julian once said, "more right" refers to the quantity (for example, Alex gave 5 right answers) not rightness.

    Thanks everybody.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    It needn't necessarily refer to quantity, sb. It could equally well suggest that Alex's answers were of a higher quality than John's (or Sarah's). The meaning is open.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    It needn't necessarily refer to quantity, sb. It could equally well suggest that Alex's answers were of a higher quality than John's (or Sarah's). The meaning is open.
    In this sentence "more right" is not a comparative. "More" in this sentence means "a greater number of".
    In my opinion "Alex gave more right answers than John" can only refer to the quantity not quality or rightness.
    Instead we should say:

    (Beryl I think yes you are right. After thinking deeply I got to the conclusion that the meaning is open and can refer to both quality and quantity)

    "
    Alex gave a higher number of correct answers than John"
    or
    "Alex gave me a greater number of right answers than John"

    Thank you.
     
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    kool-wind

    Senior Member
    British English
    I disagree with Beryl and would say that Liam was on the right track.

    If a native speaker said "Alex gave more right answers than John", then another native speaker would, without thinking about it, automatically understand that the number of right answers given by Alex was greater than the number of right answers given by John.

    It is over complicating something simple to look for any other meaning.

    "More right" is not a natural way of saying "better" or "of higher quality".
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I disagree with Beryl and would say that Liam was on the right track.

    If a native speaker said "Alex gave more right answers than John", then another native speaker would, without thinking about it, automatically understand that the number of right answers given by Alex was greater than the number of right answers given by John.

    It is over complicating something simple to look for any other meaning.

    "More right" is not a natural way of saying "better" or "of higher quality".
    I think Beryl is right, look at this sentence again:

    "Alex gave more right answers than John"

    (more right answers) = refers to quantity
    (right) = refers to quality

    (In "more right answers than" "quality or rightness" is not compared but "quantity") but by reading the sentence we understand that the whole sentence refers to both "quality and "quantity".

    The meaning is open.
     
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    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    >> If a native speaker said "Alex gave more right answers than John" ....

    There's no doubt that your interpretation is entirely correct. What you may not have realised though is that this comes as part of a suite of threads that sb70012 has started on the subject of gradable adjectives, hence his question about 'righter'. See here (click).
     

    Dexta

    Senior Member
    English (British and Australian)
    - After that conservative speech he gave I am worried about his political leanings.
    - Oh no. You think he leans right?
    - Yes.
    - Oh dear. How right?
    - Very right.
    - Righter than Alex and John? (or: More right than Alex and John?
    - Possibly, yes.
    - That's extremely right. Are you sure?
    - No, not yet.

    Obviously this is a different sense of right (politics on/to the right), but it is still the adjective 'right'. I thought of it because of the example sentence in this thread "Alex gave more right answers than John". If that sentence is used in the political sense - 'During the political science debate many of Alex's answers sounded more right than he intended', 'During the political science debate many of Alex's answers sounded more right than left', 'In spite of their shared leftist values, during the political science debate many of Alex's answers sounded more right than John's' did' - then it makes sense.
     
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