shier or more shy?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Monisia, May 12, 2009.

  1. Monisia Senior Member

    I was wondering which form is correct for comparison of an adjective 'shy'?
    It's a short one so it should be - 'shier, the shiest', but it sounds strange-or maybe it is only my weird impression? - especially 'shier' sounds strange:) is it correct?
  2. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    Perhaps you are more familiar with the British spelling of shyer and shyest instead of the shier and shiest of American English.
  3. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    More shy is probably used more often, but shyer is correct. I would also say the most shy, although shyest is often used as well.
    Last edited: May 12, 2009
  4. JoanTaber Senior Member

    New York
    English Northeast USA
    A one-syllable word in comparative form--at least in US English--requires the addition of -er or -est.
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I'd spell them shyer and shyest too ~ the versions with i do look a bit ... weird.
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    There are exceptions to this, such as "fun" and often with borrowed words such as "chic", "suave" and such.

    In fact, I wouldn't say it's an actual requirement but it is a very good rule of thumb.

    Despite what the AE dictionary might say, I think I would spell them "shyer" and "shyest" as well. gives both spellings in AE, so I'll choose the "y" version.
    Last edited: May 12, 2009
  7. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    I have no problem with the spelling shier, and it's probably the one I would use.

    The general rule with adjectives ending in y is to form the comparatives and superlatives by changing the y to i and adding -er or -est: happy, happier, happiest.

    The reason why shier is a bit weird is twofold: 1) the y in shy is pronounced [aɪ] instead of like in happy, so you could argue that it doesn't have to follow the y -> i rule described above (as if it were a different phenomenon), and 2) shier looks a lot like pier, which is pronounced as one syllable like peer, [pɪr], instead of like pyre, [ˈpaɪəʳ].*

    However, I personally see no problem with treating shy just like happy, despite the different pronunciations; and moreover, regarding point (2), we do indeed say & spell supply -> supplier instead of supplyer, and no one ever mispronounces supplier as *suh-PLEER.

    *pronunciations based on AE
    Last edited: May 12, 2009
  8. johndot Senior Member

    English - England
    I would use shier if I were talking about a person throwing things at an amusement park.

    Apart from that a one-syllable word adds er and a two-syllable word changes y to i and adds er.
  9. baker589 Senior Member

    English - England
    I would say the opposite. In BE, shier is more common, in fact I don't think anyone would say more shy. As for the spelling, I'd say shier but since noone agrees you would be fine with either.
  10. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    There are a few words like this that I wouldn't use "ier" and "iest" on:

    Spry "He was the spriest old man." (Looks odd to me)
    Sly "He was the sliest fox of the bunch." (Also looks odd to me)
  11. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Agreed... well..

    When people make comparisons and really want to emphasise something do use 'more' in a lot of ways they wouldn't usually, consider this:

    Becky is shier than Jamie, but even then out of the people in the group they hang around with they are probably the most outgoing! Well, what about that new girl Emma, she's even more shy!

    But generally, I agree, 'shier' is more common in BE (well, not that I know anything to compare it with really, but I mean it's the most used)

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