Okay, I admit it. According to https://www.urbandictionary.com/, I’m a Grammar Nazi.
I’m “a person who uses proper grammar at all times, especially online in emails, chatrooms, instant messages and web board posts; a proponent of grammatical correctness. Often one who spells correctly as well.”
And to that end, the grammarian in me has a pet peeve…well actually, I have a couple. Lately, I’ve been hearing the words “super” and “more” incorrectly dominating everyday language.
It seems it’s not enough to say you’re happy or annoyed. We’re motivated to overelaborate and up the ante to be “super happy” or “super annoyed”.
And saying we couldn’t be “prouder” is passe. People have adopted “more proud” because we just love to needlessly festoon our language, and isn’t more always better? Prouder has served the language well for centuries, but as we look for bigger and better ways to embellish our descriptions, “super” and “more” have firmly entrenched themselves in our speech.
Just because people keep saying “super happy” or “more proud” when they mean happier or happiest or prouder or proudest (and can it possibly get any better than being happiest or proudest?), doesn’t make it correct, no matter how many times people say it. These language mistakes have become pervasive, with people adopting them as acceptable, which annoys me, though I haven’t reached super annoyed status, yet.
As for the prouder/more proud debate, freelance editor, ghostwriter and speaker Kris Spisak explains:
If your mom has ever told you she couldn’t be more proud, maybe she said it because it was true. But before you start feeling all the warm fuzzies, maybe it was just a matter of linguistics. “More proud” isn’t really a thing. She couldn’t be “more proud,” because that combination of words isn’t technically correct.
I feel like I might have just broken some hearts. Don’t worry. I’m sure your mom couldn’t be prouder of you. (That’s the correct form of the sentiment.)
When it comes to superlatives, sometimes it’s tricky when deciding which words get “–er” or “-est” endings and which words get “more” or “most” placed in front of them. As with most things in the English language, there’s an easy rule for knowing the difference; unsurprisingly, there are also a lot of exceptions to the easy rule—but we’ll worry about that later.
Superlative Rule #1 – If the adjective you’re using has one syllable, use the “-er” and “-est” suffixes (e.g., “proud,” “prouder,” “proudest”; “high,” “higher,” “highest”; or “thick,” “thicker,” “thickest”).
Superlative Rule #2 – If the adjective you’re using has three or more syllables, always use “more” or “most” in front of the word (e.g., “terrified,” “more terrified,” “most terrified”; “intelligent,” “more intelligent,” “most intelligent”; “confusing,” “more confusing,” “most confusing”).
Is there a bit of Grammar Nazi in you? What are some of your language pet peeves?
Drop me a line in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.