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Fast Grammar: Most Perfect? No.

An adjective, remember, is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. “His new car is blue.” “She’s a happy baby.” An absolute adjective is an adjective with a meaning that is generally not capable of being intensified or compared. Also known as a non-gradable adjective, these words convey their own limits. Words such as “perfect” or “dead” are absolute adjectives. Although “most perfect” is often heard in today’s conversational English, it is not technically correct. You cannot be “less dead” or “slightly married”. Your test answers are either “true” or “false”. Here is a list of words that generally stand as non-gradable adjectives:

  • absolute
  • adequate
  • alive
  • complete
  • dead
  • divorced
  • empty
  • entire
  • equal
  • essential
  • eternal
  • extraneous
  • false
  • fatal
  • final
  • finite
  • first
  • full
  • ideal
  • imperfect
  • impossible
  • incomplete
  • inevitable
  • infinite
  • known
  • last
  • main
  • married
  • minor
  • non-essential
  • not fatal
  • not ideal
  • not pregnant
  • not unique
  • not universal
  • perfect
  • possible
  • preferable
  • pregnant
  • principal
  • round (or other shape)
  • separated (marital status)
  • single (marital status)
  • sufficient
  • true
  • unanimous
  • unavoidable
  • unequal
  • unique
  • universal
  • unknown
  • whole
  • widowed

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you the idea. Exception: Some adjectives such as “nearly” and “almost” can sometimes be used to demonstrate attainment of a near-absolute state.


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Fast Grammar – Then and Than

Here’s another situation that is changed mightily by one letter. I not only see this error often in manuscripts but I hear it in the spoken word as well. There is a difference!

Then – used to indicate what happened, happens next, or what should be done next.

Than –  can be either a conjunction or a preposition. Most commonly used with comparative adjectives and comparative adverbs.

Examples: If the puppy grows bigger than her cage, then you’ll need to buy her a new one. (In the first half of the sentence, we are comparing the size of the pup versus her cage. In the second half of the sentence, an action will take place if the condition exists.) Another: We can move the table over there and then put the couch here, but that will only work if the couch is shorter than the windowsill. (Again, the couch will only be moved after the first action is completed and in the second part of the sentence, we are comparing the height of the couch relative to the windowsill.)

It’s easy to figure out whether to use then or than just by thinking (ahead) how the word will be used in your sentence.

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Fast Grammar – try…

Here’s another quickie reminder for you! It’s a phrase that seems to be tripping up many of us in our writing lately. Once again, it’s not that we don’t know this, but rather, we’re just a bit lazy and perhaps not paying perfect attention to our sentence structure.

Consider this sentence: “Tomorrow, the boys are going to try and move the fallen tree.” The word and is a conjunction, which simply means it joins two thoughts, actions, or phrases together. Split in half, we have, “Tomorrow, the boys are going to try.” AND, “Tomorrow the boys are going to move the fallen tree.” Two separate and complete actions. The correct sentence should be, “Tomorrow, the boys are going to try to move the fallen tree.” All focus is on the effort of cleaning up the apparent mess.

Simple and fast! – get your Fast Grammar here. 🙂 Don’t forget to follow The Editor Afloat on Facebook too!