Cleverer / more clever than...

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by franso, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. franso Senior Member

    spanish from spain
    Can you say "...Peter is more clever than Simon" ?
  2. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    Peter is cleverer than Simon is better.
  3. Sabelotodo Senior Member

    Great Lakes Region, USA
    English, United States
    To my ear, "more clever" sounds much better. Perhaps it's a regional difference.
  4. bembemmaria Member

    United States, English
    More Clever. You will find cleverer in the dictionary. I see Sally b is from the UK so maybe they use it there, but I have never heard anyone use cleverer in the us.
  5. franso Senior Member

    spanish from spain
    I´ve been checking English grammar books and I´ve found both of them can be used but... I´m interested in receiving a few more opinions from different places in UK.

  6. HeatherR Senior Member

    New Brunswick, Canada
    I'm not from the UK, but if you're interested, 'more clever' is what is used here.
  7. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    'Cleverer' sounds perfectly natural to me, and is usually neater than 'more clever'.
  8. wfreeman New Member

    Roanoke, Virginia
    United States, English
    I think the rule is that if the adjective has more than two syllables, you aren't supposed to use the endings -er/est etc. Also, you shouldn't use the endings along with the words (more/most etc) in front (such as more cleverer), and words with 1 syllable usually are special cases, such as good/better/best.

    Clever having two syllables is ok; it only looks weird because of the -erer (but it sounds fine to me, adding -est also sounds natural (which is probably a good test) cleverest).
    It's when you get into 3 syllable ones like prestigious that you can't use prestigiouser, and have to use more prestigious.

    If I'm wrong about the rule let me know.
  9. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    That's the rule I learnt at school: One syllable, you always add -er (except in irregular comparatives). Two syllabes, you have the choice between -er and "more". Three, you need to use "more". I guess it all depends on how good my teachers' English was. :D
  10. wfreeman New Member

    Roanoke, Virginia
    United States, English
    Off thread topic, but since you guys are from spain -
    Is there a good spanish word for clever? listo/inteligente/etc seem so generic.

  11. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Here's the rule I know:

    - Gradable adjectives can be used in their comparative and superlative forms, whether using a periphrasis (more, the most) or an inflection (-er, -est).

    The inflection with disyllabic adjectives is used when the last syllable is unstressed (therefore: happy - happier, easy - easier), when they end with a syllabic "l" (simple - simpler) or with an "r" (clever-cleverer).

    Trisyllabic or longer adjectives take the periphrastic form unless they are negations of disyllabic adjectives with the prefix un- (unhappy - unhappier).

    This is all theoretical (what Quirk says about comparatives and superlatives). The practice might be different, as you can see in the US and Canada they prefer the periphrastic forms.


  12. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Comparing the definitions, I fail to see any significant differente between the two terms in both languages. The first meaning is almost identical in English to meanings 1 and 2 in Spanish. The second in English matches the fourth in Spanish. The third one is similar in both, and the last meaning in English is only used ironically, but it is not in the dictionary.
    Maybe you can tell me how exactly is inteligente more generic than clever.

  13. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Despabilado, despierto, ducho, experto, agudo, astuto, avispado, perspicaz, sagaz, lince, hábil, capaz, instruido, sabio... These are synonyms, but now you should find out when to use which! :)
  14. wfreeman New Member

    Roanoke, Virginia
    United States, English
    Thanks for the list of synonyms. I think I like agudo, astuto, perspicaz, hábil most for clever.

    To me:
    Someone that is intelligent might not be clever. A clever person is someone that has come up with an interesting (possibly better) way to do or say something. Such as "look at the clever way he solved that problem", or "that's a clever way to say it". I feel like clever suggests a new and interesting take on something. I would say someone that is clever with words would be witty.

    What do you guys think?
  15. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
  16. wfreeman New Member

    Roanoke, Virginia
    United States, English
    Didn't think there would be such a wide range of opinions on that word :p
    I guess in the UK it means more the same as intelligent - goes to show how a word varies by region and person.. I'll have to go buy myself some california dictionaries, so I know what the proper definition is for my dialect of english!
  17. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Yolanda no me ha dejado muchas:
    Talentoso, lúcido, apto, vivo, espabilado, despejo, ingenioso, vivaz, docto, entendido, zorro, erudito...
  18. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Esto da pie a otro tema relacionado con estos sinónimos... ¿Espabilado o despabilado? Mi profesor de lengua española (en la Universidad de Traducción e Interpretación) decía que sólo era correcto "despabilado", a pesar del uso coloquial del mismo adjetivo sin la "d" inicial. Quizás eso fuera sólo así en el año 2000, o él estuviera equivocado... ¿qué decís al respecto?


  19. Jellby

    Jellby Senior Member

    Spanish (Spain)
    Pues el DRAE dice que "espabilar" significa, entre otras cosas, despertar, avivar, mientras que de "despabilar" dice que sólo equivale a "espabilar" cuando significa quitar el pabilo, y otras acepciones que no vienen al caso.

    Así que para alguien despierto y avispado, "espabilado" es correcto, "despabilado", no.
  20. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Interesante... me voy a pasar por la Facultad para dejarle un mensaje a ese profesor que yo tuve! Ahora ya puedo usar "espabilado" sin dudar si es correcto o no.

    Gracias y que paséis todos un buen martes,

  21. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Eso es lo que dice el diccionario actual. El Diccionario de Autoridades de 1732 recoge varias acepciones (entre ellas la de quitar la pavesa), pero una de ellas es la de, metafóricamente, aviviar y ejercitar el entendimiento o ingenio, poniendo la mayor aplicación y cuidado en el acierto de alguna cosa. En ese mismo tomo define espabilar como: "Lo mismo que despabilar". La versión del DRAE de 1992 también define espabilar como despabilar.

    La RAE ha mantenido esta acepción hasta 1992. No me extraña que tu profesor aún la use. Lo que me parece ya excesivo es decir que sólo "despabilado" es correcto. No creo que él sea tan viejo. ;)
  22. Yolandasiatica

    Yolandasiatica Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Todo aclarado entonces, Lazarus. Pues sí, el hombre ya tenía sus añitos en el '95, que fue cuando lo tuve yo! :) En esto de los idiomas, hay que saber "actualizarse", como con la informática! - para eso hay foros tan buenos como éste.


  23. deykamol New Member

    i'm from england, and i find that "cleverer" grates on the ears, it's a horrible word. I'll always opt to say "more clever than".
  24. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    In her first post Yolanda stated the English rule very concisely. But some people obviously feel a greater discomfort with appending "er" to a liquid consonant (English "r", which is represented phonetically as an upside-dow lower case r] and "l".) The same awkwardness is encountered with "leveler" versus "more level".

    As she indicated, this problem does not come into play with the superlative ("est").
  25. prettyfairy Member

    chile, spanish
    so..cleverer or more clever...both? right?
  26. elianecanspeak

    elianecanspeak Senior Member

    by Lake Michigan
    English - EEUU
    There are partisans for each. I myself prefer cleverer, but would not say that "more clever" is incorrect, although to me it sounds a little weird.

    I found this on the web (www.[B][/B]/learning/a-level/lessons.html )
    "Worksheets for A level English Language - Exercises for age 16-18 ...
    The fact that the OED is a historical dictionary means that once a word is included in it, .... What makes one example cleverer than another? ..."

    . . . and also this:

    Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary (
    Inflected forms:clev·er·er; clev·er·est
    Meaning:[also more clev*er; most clev*er] 1 : intelligent and able to learn things quickly
  27. KJinCali79 New Member

    English - U.S.
    You can use "more clever" or "cleverer", as the comparative of clever; and you can use "most clever" or "cleverest," as the superlative of clever. However, it is safer to use "more" in most cases when dealing with anything other than a one syllable root word as I will explain below.

    In English the decision on when to use -er/more, and -est/most is based on two things: the number of syllables in the root word, and the ending of the root word.

    The general rule is, as other members have pointed out, if the root word is one syllable you use the suffix -er, if the root word is three syllables or longer you always use more and not the -er suffix, but in the case of two syllable words, like clever, you can use either depending on the ending of the root word.

    Two syllable words which end in: -less, -ful, -ing, -ous, -ant, -ed are never modified with the -er suffix and must to use "more". For example, "useful" cannot be usefuler, something is "more useful"; or someone can be "more pleasant" but not "pleasanter"; or "more boring" not "boringer", and so on.

    While the two rules above (syllables and root ending) are hard and fast rules, what I will explain below is a matter of taste, preference, or practice.

    In the case of clever, its ending of -er, does not require the use of more, but there was a period of time, at least it the U.S., where the -er ending, the -le ending, and the -n ending were all included in the above, and for that reason "more clever" probably has a more natural sound than "cleverer" to most people. Examples of this for the other endings are "simpler/more simple", "more fun/funner". Since this was taught for some time, using the -er suffix fell out of practice for words with these endings, which means that while correct under either -er/more option, their unusual use seems to make people uneasy, as though it were something a child would say. It is not technically incorrect to say "cleverer", just odd sounding to many people.

    Also, since another use of -er in English, is to convert a verb into a noun of someone performing the verb action, for example the verb: to speak can become the noun: the speaker simply by adding -er, it is helpful to avoid applying -er when the word could be confused as this type of -er noun, rather than an -er comparative adjective. For example, even though the adjective common (two syllables without a special root ending) can be modified as "commoner," you would want to make sure that your context is clear so that "commoner" does not sound like you are referring to the noun meaning an ordinary person. When in doubt, or to be clear, you could just say "more common."

    Furthermore, when a comparative is combined with another modifying phase, and the root word is two syllables or longer, it is usually preferred to use "more" or "most', rather than "-er" or "-est". For example, if I wanted to emphasize just how clever someone was in relation to someone else by using "a lot" or "much" it is less common to use the "-er" suffix. Example: "Sally is a lot more clever than I originally thought." sounds better than "Sally is a lot cleverer than I originally thought". Or, "Dan is much more clever than Steve." is generally preferred over, "Dan is much cleverer than Steve." This does not apply to one syllable root words, however, which do use the -er suffix even when accompanied with an modifying phrase. If you want an example, replace strong/stronger into the above example; native speakers would prefer to use "stronger."

    So my long explanation boils down to this: you can either either, but since there are so many circumstances, due to endings, or modifying phrases, that can cause a two-syllable word to require "more" instead of "-er", I generally default to using "more" which is a perfectly correct option for anything but a one syllable root word adjective.
  28. JorgeHoracio Senior Member

    Spanish - Argentina
    I'd say ingenioso is a good all-round equivalent of clever. Will work in most cases.

    [We say despabilado, never espabilado in Argentina]
  29. Aelfric New Member

    That's because Brits are cleverer than North Americans ;)
  30. sunonmyside Member


    Sé que esta frase no está bien así. ¿Alguien puede decirme por qué? Creo que faltan unas palabras donde he resaltado:

    'Parece que tuvo su origen en el siglo 16 en un ritual pagano en que las lámparas de la calle quemaban como estaba terminando el invierno.'

    Quiero decir algo en la línea de:

    It seems that it has it's origins in the 16th century in a pagan ritual in which the street lamps would be burned/used to be burned as winter was coming to an end.

    Muchas gracias.


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