In which cases let the superlatives better be split?


I remember MS word suggesting the words most common to commonest and it still does! That's okay. Why use two words when a single sure-word is available for that (Save ink, save energy from typing)

But then, are there any cases where splitting out the adjectives is preferred. Interesting is Ngram for the usage most common over commonest in recent years. The result is surprising.

Ngram results apart, is there something that decides most common over commonest? Also, my question is not limited to most common and commonest but all such superlatives.

Maulik V

Posted 2014-04-17T09:36:17.417

Reputation: 66 188

Most common sounds better than commonest. There's no real reason beyond that. – snailplane – 2014-04-17T14:53:31.850



In spoken English, the form of the superlative is usually decided by the number of syllables in the adjective.

One syllable words get -est.

Multi-syllable words use most.

Of course there are exceptions such as some words ending in -y. So, one would never say commonest but you would say shiniest.


Posted 2014-04-17T09:36:17.417

Reputation: 4 769

you din' get me. I know this very basic rule but this is not exactly I'm asking here. Thanks for the attempt though. – Maulik V – 2014-04-17T12:36:58.550

Then it would depend on what you want to emphasize, the adjective or the noun. So, "that's the brightest light" has focus on the light. "that light is the most bright" puts focus on the brightness. – Johns-305 – 2014-04-17T12:46:21.163

Okay, let me try. Why use most common instead of commonest though both serve the same meaning and emphasize on something that's very very common? I'm not asking how superlatives are formed but concerned where use the longer version though the meaning remains the same. Are there any instances, rules? That way. Hope it's clear now. – Maulik V – 2014-04-17T13:06:12.447

An example: Eating spicy curry is most common among North Indians. OVER *Eating spicy curry is commonest among North Indians. And emphasizing? Our purpose of using superlatives is emphasizing only, isn't it? Again, split superlative or un-split -that's the concern. – Maulik V – 2014-04-17T13:08:52.400

While it may be technically correct, a speaker of US English would not say commonest. Either way, like I said, splitting can change the emphasis from the noun to the adjective. – Johns-305 – 2014-04-17T13:17:02.760

if you read my question, I asked how it happens in English. To be frank I'm not bothered about a particular Dialect. Thanks for the comment as a native though. – Maulik V – 2014-04-17T15:55:49.097

Sorry, I dont' know what you mean by 'how it happens'. – Johns-305 – 2014-04-17T16:43:06.803