When Most is Enough
It must be one of those “in your face” gestures of defiance. It can’t be that they don’t know better.
I’m referring to the way so many bloggers create headlines that place a “most” in front of an adjective that already has the superlative -est suffix:
The internet’s Most Rudest and Obnoxious people
Mumbai, India is the MOST RUDEST city in the world
The Seven Most Awesomest ‘Idol’ Moments This Season
A Gawker Guide to the Most Awesomest Election Ever
Sometimes “least” is used instead of “most” in order to compare in the opposite direction:
100 Least Awesomest Things ever
Then there are the online novels:
… at that very moment the most awfullest, most terriblest, most unpleasantest thing imaginable happened!
Such pervasive examples of incorrect usage can’t be much help to readers for whom English is not the first language.
English adjectives form their comparative/superlative forms in one of two ways:
1. by adding the suffixes -er and -est:
dark/darker/darkest; simple/simpler/simplest; mean/meaner/meanest
2. by using the words more and most in front of the basic adjective:
pleasant/more pleasant/most pleasant
awesome/more awesome/most awesome
I won’t go into the various rules based on number of syllables and stressed or unstressed vowels.
It’s probably enough to know that adjectives that are short and/or easy to say, form their comparatives with -er and -est. Polysyllabic adjectives that sound clumsy with those endings form their comparatives with more and most.
Sometimes the choice is a matter of individual preference.
For example, one speaker may prefer handsome/more handsome/most handsome while another likes the sound of handsome/handsomer/handsomest.
When in doubt, go with the more/most construction.
“Most awesomest” is not an option for the writer who desires to write standard English.
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