oftener / more often

carmen1987

Senior Member
Spain, Spanish&Catalan (Barcelona)
Hi there!
I usually use "more often" (for example: We should meet up more often) but, is it alright? is it "oftener"? I googueled both of them and it seems like if both were alright... which is weird...

Thanks

Carmen
 
  • Newbie-or-Tyro

    Member
    bilingual: English-Spanish
    oftener is a completely correct usage of the word in many cases but as Dlyons says ,it is about utilizations and countries. you know how it is folks, people change languages as time goes by and get into the habits of using sometimes the most comfortable ways of expressions. The funny part is that even if the expression isn't totally correct ,it ends up most of the times catching on or sticking with people, there it's when scholars and experts have to change, modify and add new forms of expressions in books,dictionaries and so forth .
    the bottomline now is that: more often has catched on even if it isn't gramatically correct,it should be oftener, but that's the way it is folks.
    PD: The fact that some expressions and words may sound weird ,it doesn't necessarily mean they are incorrect ,again it's all about usages,regions,countries and the force of time pressing on them
     
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    cubaMania

    Senior Member
    "More often" is definitely correct.
    In my part of the world we don't generally say "oftener" but it appears from previous posts here that "oftener" is used in British English.
    Don't forget the idiom "more often than not" as an example.

    Some adjectives and adverbs allow only one or the other form and some allow both an "-er, -est" form and a "more, most" form.

    I'm afraid that there is no real rule as to how to form the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs. Generally, the best way to find out the correct form is to ask a literate native speaker. If a literate native speaker is not readily available, resort to the use of a good dictionary. Some good dictionaries will list the comparative and superlative forms IF THEY ARE OTHER THAN the forms using "more" and "most". For instance, if you look up "fast" at dictionary. com you will see "faster, fastest".
    FAST
    adverb, faster, fastest.
    If you look up "well" at dictionary.com you will see "better, best".
    WELL /wɛl/
    adverb better, best
    However, if you look up "often" at dictionary.com you will not see "oftener, oftenest".
    OFTEN
    adverb
    1.
    many times; frequently:
    He visits his parents as often as he can.
    2.
    in many cases.
    When using a dictionary that does this for you, if you don't see an -er -est form or an irregular form listed, then your best bet is to stick with "more" and "most".

    (I think there are also lists to be found online of comparative and superlative forms.)
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    often /'ɒf(ə)n, 'ɒft(ə)n/ adverb (oftener, oftenest) frequently; many times...
    (The New Oxford Dictionary of English, OUP, 1998.)

    comparative and superlative adverbs (148)

    Normally comparative and superlative adverbs are made with more and most.
    Could you talk a bit more quietly? (Not: *...quietlier)

    But a few adverbs have comparative and superlative forms with -er, -est. The most important ones are: fast, soon, early, late, hard, long, well, far, near, often (but more often and most often are more common) ...

    (M Swan, Practical English Usage, Oxford, OUP, 1980.)
     

    anita mazzon

    Senior Member
    English
    Oftener fell into popular disuse around the mid-late 1900s.

    Could you talk a bit more quietly? (Not: *...quietlier)
    Lo correcto es "quieter". You forgot that you're modifying "quiet", not "quietly". However, quietlier is not an error.

    Incidentally, I would feel more comfortable hearing "oftener than not" than "oftener".
     
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    anita mazzon

    Senior Member
    English
    I forgot nothing. It's M. Swan's example, not mine.
    Ah, I see. In English we usually place quotation marks around all quotes, or some other marking, to remove any ambiguity. In any case, this source is a little dated, being from 1980.

    Another thing, using "nothing" in this way is strong / impolite usage in English. Softer is: I didn't forget anything. Or even more, just a simple negation: No, it's ...

    Un saludo
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    Ah, I see. In English we usually place quotation marks around all quotes, or some other marking, to remove any ambiguity. In any case, this source is a little dated, being from 1980.

    Another thing, using "nothing" in this way is strong / impolite usage in English. Softer is: I didn't forget anything. Or even more, just a simple negation: No, it's ...

    Un saludo
    Mis disculpas, entonces, en ambos casos.
    G'Day!
     

    Newbie-or-Tyro

    Member
    bilingual: English-Spanish
    I totally agree with Agró on the explanation about oftener.
    PD: my motto is: I'm not here to criticize anybody, i'm just here to pitch in.
    And I obviously need correction at times, i'm not perfect.
    And if any that'll be more than welcome
     
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    Forero

    Senior Member
    It would help to have some context, but "more often" is more common. Still, "oftener" does not sound weird like, for example, "beautifuler", or childish like "awfuler".

    "More often than not" is a special case, but in some environments no -er form is appropriate: "I see more good than bad [not "better than bad"] here", "He is more well than ill [not "better than ill"] today".
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Don't forget the idiom "more often than not" as an example.
    "More often than not" is a special case, ...
    Could you elaborate on this? Am unsure of your reference/meaning!
    For example:

    In the eye of a hurricane, the sky is, more often than not, a cloudless blue.

    The meaning here is that the sky there is more likely to be a cloudless blue than otherwise. I suppose the fact that "more often than not" refers to likelihood rather than actual frequency makes it "special", in addition to the frequency of its use as a pat phrase.

    But, come to think of it, "oftener than not" does not sound strange to me, so maybe CubaMania was suggesting he might be uncomfortable with altering an "idiom" (pat phrase).
     

    Aloyalfriend

    Senior Member
    Persian-Iran
    Do you ever hear *oftener* in news, magazines, movies etc.?
    Is *oftener* an old-fashioned word?
    How would it be possible an adverb can have two different forms of superlative?
     

    anita mazzon

    Senior Member
    English
    Do you ever hear *oftener* in news, magazines, movies etc.?
    Is *oftener* an old-fashioned word?
    How would it be possible an adverb can have two different forms of superlative?
    Yes. Oftener fell into popular disuse around the mid-late 1900s, but there usually no such thing as saying that a word itself is old-fashioned. What makes it old-fashioned or not is the context of its usage. For one speaker it may be the norm, while for another it may be considered old-fashioned. One speaker may frequently use "oftener than not" but never "oftener", another speaker may frequently use "more often than not" as well as "oftener". Human creativity.
     

    Aloyalfriend

    Senior Member
    Persian-Iran
    Alright.
    So, I think *often* is the only adverb which has two comparative forms, oftener and more often.
    According to English grammar, to form the comparative of a one syllable word, we should add er . Apparently, as far as I know, the only adverb this rule does not hold for, is often. Some native speakers say *I've never heard it or even seen it*, some say * it sounds weird to them to use *oftener* instead of more often*, lastly, I suppose I will follow those who replied * oftener sounds strange to me*, for they are more than other groups!
    Perhaps * more often* is not correct, yet is a common mistake that is widely used and everyone thinks it is correct.
     
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    anita mazzon

    Senior Member
    English
    Alright.
    So, I think "often" is the only adverb which has two comparative forms, oftener and more often.
    According to English grammar, to form the comparative of a one-syllable word, we should add "-er". Apparently, as far as I know, the only adverb this rule does not hold for is "often". Some native speakers say, "I've never heard it or even seen it", some say that it sounds weird to them to use "oftener" instead of more often. Lastly, I suppose I will follow those who replied "oftener sounds strange to me", for there are more of them than others!
    Perhaps "more often" is not correct, yet is a common mistake that is widely used and that everyone thinks is correct.
    Hello Aloyafriend,

    You're mistaken in your restriction of adverbial comparatives, in your understanding of English grammar as you have mentioned above, and in your understanding of the way languages function in general. I might respectfully suggest that, for your own benefit, you consider taking it as a matter of presumption that when a native speaker of a language tells you about some aspect of their native language, they are correct.

    Kind regards.
     

    Aloyalfriend

    Senior Member
    Persian-Iran
    Thanks for proofreading:)
    I did not say ' native speakers are incorrect', I said ' There is no general rule or answer', if you had spent your time understanding what I meant ' (It is true I had some mistakes, but not that much that you can't understand what I meant), you would not have said I meant you native speakers are incorrect:D
     

    Isabel Sewell

    Banned
    Spanish
    There are many other synonyms in use today. Oftener seems to be archaic.

    of·ten
    /ˈôf(t)ən,ˈäf(t)ən/
    adverb
    comparative adverb: oftener
    1. frequently; many times.
      "he often goes for long walks by himself"
      synonyms: frequently, many times, many a time, on many/numerous occasions, a lot, in many cases/instances, repeatedly, again and again, time and again, time and time again, time after time, over and over, over and over again, day in, day out, week in, week out, all the time, regularly, recurrently, continually, usually, habitually, commonly, generally, ordinarily, as often as not; More
      • in many instances.
        "vocabulary often reflects social standing"
     

    Isabel Sewell

    Banned
    Spanish
    How would you rephrase this one?
    Do you oftener lose or win?

    My suggestion is
    Do you win more often or do you lose more often?

    It seems that the confusion might be about using the archaic word "oftener" in a phrase that does not compare one noun to another noun.

    And I can see how you may be attempting to say "Do you win oftener than lose?"; but that would not be an accurate question.
     

    Wandering JJ

    Senior Member
    British English
    My suggestion is
    Do you win more often or do you lose more often?

    It seems that the confusion might be about using the archaic word "oftener" in a phrase that does not compare one noun to another noun.
    You may be confusing the issue by talking of nouns: "often" is an adverb and therefore modifies verbs and may compare one verb with another, as in "win" and "lose", but not nouns.
     

    Isabel Sewell

    Banned
    Spanish
    You may be confusing the issue by talking of nouns: "often" is an adverb and therefore modifies verbs and may compare one verb with another, as in "win" and "lose", but not nouns.


    Exactly, to win and to lose are verbs, and still the question would not work with oftener.

    Comparative adjetives (angrier, freer, etc...) are used to compare one noun to another. This is an elementary school level link
    Examples of Comparative and Superlative Adjectives for Kids
     

    Jaykay1053

    Member
    English - Canada
    I say and teach, “more often”, and “more often than not” and would ask, “Do you win more often than you lose?”.

    Although, from Canada, I have always tended toward British pronounciation (pronounced ‘pronunciation’, for example) and OED spelling, I would have marked “oftener” as incorrect until I saw the British quotes above! We don’t say oftener in Canada.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I would accept oftener in a sentence like this:

    Yes, he plays ping pong, and especially badminton, fairly often, but he play tennis oftener than ping pong, and he seldom plays croquet.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I don't doubt that "oftener" is correct. I'll make that clear. However, I must say I have never heard it in my life until now, and wouldn't consider using it. It sounds as weird to me as horribler, terribler, gracefuller. But it's not the first time I've heard an irregular comparative that has struck me as weird.
     

    Jaykay1053

    Member
    English - Canada
    1. I write with pen more often than (with) pencil.:tick:

    I have never heard oftener or read it in any magazines, newspapers or books, including books by British, American and Canadian authors.

    2. More often than not, I eat eggs for breakfast.:tick:

    More often will always be considered correct, so I recommend its use over that of oftener. When in doubt, use more xxx rather than tacking er onto a word you’re not sure of.

    Exception: more fast:cross:
    faster:tick:
    quicker:tick:
    more quickly:tick:
    quicklier :cross:

    Do you win more often than you lose?:tick:

    I win more often than I lose.:tick:

    I hope this clears things up!:)
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just adding another voice against 'oftener'. I have never said it, never heard anyone say it, and never read it anywhere except in this thread.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Just adding another voice against 'oftener'. I have never said it, never heard anyone say it, and never read it anywhere except in this thread.

    Same here. Back in primary school we would have our hands whacked for using such grammar. Apparently there are some holdouts still using it, but not in metro areas. It sounds "backwoods" to me.
     

    Brumon

    New Member
    Italian & Croatian
    I think we can here draw a conclusion with a glotto-historically meaningful remark: use of "more often" is an additional step in the on-going "de-Germanization" of English as the final, winning worldwide communication tool (a requiem for esperanto, French, etc.!). The trend is from synthetical forms to analitical ones, statistically a winning process in today's planet-wide language scene.

    ... oops, "analytical ones" of course (perhaps a subconscious nod on the path of the "normalization" of English?!).
     
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