how to form the comparative of color-adjectives

Discussion in 'English Only' started by edward beltran, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. edward beltran Member

    what are the comparative form of these adjetives:

    orange, pink, blue, white, red, yellow, purple, blue, green, black, etc.

    Are there any rules for the comparative form of tese color-adjectives?

    thanks for your help.

    are there any other ways to say that the color of an object is darker or lighter than the color of another object?
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    The usual rules for comparative adjectives apply, Edward:
    pinker, bluer, whiter, redder, yellower, bluer [again], greener, blacker
    more orange, more purple

    Some people may prefer more blue (just because 'bluer' looks slightly weird) and more yellow (just because 'yellow' has two syllables), especially in writing.

    You might hear people using purpler in speaking, or possibly even oranger, though both of those are a little on the weird side too.

    The rule is: one syllable ~ add -er; two syllables or more ~ it's safest to use more + (though in speech people very often use + -er, especially with very common adjectives such as yellow).

    In other words: there's no simple Absolute Rule.
  3. edward beltran Member

    now it is clear for me.
    thank you very much, Ewie
  4. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    In principle you can use the -er comparative; in practice, only a few are commonly used, such as white ("whiter than white"), black, green ("one politician may be greener than another").
    I think the problem may be that if you say redder, say, it is not clear whether you mean darker or lighter red (although I would guess that most people mean a more intense colour (=darker?).
    You might say "a carrot is oranger than an orange" or "more orange than an orange".

    I don't really feel happy about saying oranger, bluer, redder etc. and would probably go for "more xx" in most cases.

    The problem, as I said, is a semantic one, since colour don't have absolute definitions and we have to use words like pale yellow, dark yellow. You could write a PhD thesis on "which is yellower: a banana or a lemon?"
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Good point, E2. I'd happily use redder or yellower to mean 'more intensely red/yellow'. Whether or not people would understand what I meant is another question.
  6. edward beltran Member

    let me get this straight. what you both mean is that if I say the car 1 is redder than car number 2; this means that the color of the car 1 is darker than the color of the car 2. Still, I am talking about the same color which is red in this example. Is it so?

    And in English bluer is correct in principle but not commonly used. And in pracitce more blue is widely used. Am I right?
  7. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    No, it's not a question of 'redder' versus 'more red', it's that it's not clear what colour X is if X is redder (more red) than Y. It's obvious what it means if X is whiter/blacker than Y: white and black are extremes you can go towards. But what is a redder car? Is it a brighter red, or a darker red?
  8. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    My first thought if I were to hear someone say "car A is redder than car B" would be that car A was a more intense red. However, this might not be darker red, since there is no such absolute colour which we call "red". Car A might be a brighter red or a different shade of red. What I'm really saying is that it makes no sense to compare colours in this way. Would you not agree that it is meaningless to argue about whether a tomato is more red than rhubarb?

    Since people don't often compare colours in this way (except perhaps white and black), we are uncertain (or at least I am!) of whether to say "more xx" or "xxer". Whether bluer is more or less common than more blue is not something I can confirm. But you can investigate it yourself by looking at the British (or American) Corpus (
  9. edward beltran Member

    Now I think I undertand what you mean there´s anything that tells us that redder car is brighter or darker and probably another thing we can say about this is that the meaning that redder car conveys depends on the people´s personal point of view. the meaning of redder is arbitrary. do you think so?
  10. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    It can be clear though, e.g. comparing two tomatoes on the same vine or two peoples' sunburns, etc.
  11. edward beltran Member

    sorry for insisting on the topic. but what you say is that we should say that the the color of the tomato is brighter than the color of the rhubarb, and not to say the tomato is redder than the rhubarb. sorry English is my second language.
  12. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    When speaking about white and black, you can only talk about their intensity (i.e. their brightness).
    With other wavelengths, you can talk about intensity and hue (among other things). Hue corresponds most closely to the wavelength of the colour.
    So you can say that a tomato has a redder hue than a stick of rhubarb (although people might differ in what they consider to be the typical hue for red) or you can say that a tomato has a more intense colour than a stick of rhubarb (i.e. is a brighter red). Whether it is brighter depends upon the particular tomato!

    "the colour of the tomato is brighter than the colour of the rhubarb" is probably a reasonable thing to say, if you're talking about the intensity of the red.
  13. Uriel-

    Uriel- Senior Member

    New Mexico, US
    American English
    Bluer and redder are normal words for me. I would use them to refer to a purer or more intense version of the color. For darker or lighter comparisons, I would use those terms -- that rose is a darker red than this one; the sky is a lighter blue in the morning. You can also say that one shade is duller than another, or is less red than another thing, or not as red as another item.
  14. Matjo New Member

    English- India
    There are quite a few words and usages, which originally were mere slang(s) or colloquial elements, but eventually got legitimised by the language and its users. Those usages and words over which we don't have doubts, and those that enjoy 'absolute acceptance' are those which have been recognised and legitimised by the language over time. In fact, that's how any language evolves and develops.
    Until horribly weird words and usages such as 'purpler-purplest', 'orange-oranger', 'yellower-yellowest', 'handsome-handsomer' and such unpardonable non-sense get recognised by the language, its absolutely inappropriate to use them. For now, as far as comparatives for colours are concerned, we have an abundance of words such as 'more', 'most', 'light', 'pale', 'deep', 'dull' etc. for effectively articulating their intensity. Therefore, a humble request to all my fellow language lovers- Please do not make a mockery of the English Language (or any language for that matter) with words and usages that are hardly acceptable and really weird.
  15. Mike H New Member

    english-united states
    Orange can be used either way. The general rule for superlative/comparative creation is one syllable = er/est. Orange is a one syllable word. No mockery in following generally accepted rules of grammar.
  16. cando Senior Member

    English - British
    Not in my English; two syllables with "r" between.

Share This Page