Sunday, April 30, 2006

Some Basic Comparative & Superlative Adjectives

This sign was found at one of the checkout counters at Giant IMM.

This is somewhat tricky for most Singaporeans.

Consider the following

Positive Comparative Superlative
A Less Lesser Least
B Little Less Least

Our example above should have been 'Use Less Bags' since the intention was to use the it as an adjective (A). It modifies Bags (How many bags? 1, 2, 3...Less).

'Lesser' only appears as a comparative adjectve (A) when you need to compare across two things such as 'lesser of the two evils', a common phrase.

In situation B when we are refering to something very little and few (POSITIVE), its comparative would be 'less/fewer'. E.g. We don't say 'You exercise less' unless it is a comparative 'You exercise less than [someone]' where the object is obliterated.
This is known as null-comparision.

For more discussion on 'less' and 'lesser', you can refer to

Most Singaporeans need more practice in the Engllish language, so that we make less of these mistakes and least of all, support the 'Speak Good English' campaign ( or 'write' for that matter).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This ones good. there is one in Tanglin Community center that is really terrrible (or good, depending on you'r viewpoint). i have forgotten it but ill try send it when i remember

Tue May 23, 06:28:00 pm GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the sign is imploring us to use bags of inferior quality?

Thu Jun 15, 04:03:00 pm GMT+8  
Anonymous Meredith said...

I hate to say this, but "make less of these mistakes" is itself ungrammatical, unless you mean that we ought to take the mistakes more lightly. "Less" refers to continuous things or qualities: Less sand, less exercise, less trouble, etc. The word you should be using is "fewer," which applies to things you can count. So: fewer errors, fewer bags, fewer incompetent General Paper teachers. Okay, that's all.

Mon Jun 19, 11:52:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

Hah, this only made me realise what I need to study for French....Indo-European inflections...

Tue Jul 11, 12:52:00 am GMT+8  

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