Which is Correct: Commonest or Most Common?

Rules are not always the rules in English. From the pronunciation to grammar observance, it proves to be a very difficult language to learn. With 8 parts of speech, it’s easy to get lost! In this article, we will focus on the states of adjectives.

Adjective This part of  a speech is used to describe a noun or a pronoun. Adjectives can specify the quality, the size, and the number of nouns or pronouns.

For example:

The hardworking waiter finally had a long, sound sleep.

Adjectives have three forms or degrees: positive (which is the base form), comparative (in which two objects are being compared), and superlative (in which three or more objects are being compared). These degrees give a corresponding change to the adjective. In the comparative degree, the word more is added before or the suffix -er is added after the positive form of the adjective. Likewise, in the superlative degree, most or -est are added to the word.

Positive: Walter is a noisy kid.

Comparative: Henry is a noisier kid than Walter.

Superlative: Among the three, Daniel is the noisiest.

However, a big confusion starts with the use of more/most or -er/-est to the word. Can you just say more noisy or the most noisy without affecting the grammar of the sentence above? The answer is both yes and no.

Again, there are no consistent principles in relation to this but there are accepted rules that you can follow.

Adjectives with one syllable usually use -er/est.

  • pink | pinker | pinkest
  • cute | cuter | cutest
  • fast | faster | fastest
  • sick | sicker | sickest
  • bright | brighter | brightest

Adjectives with three or more syllables usually use more and most

  • beautiful | more beautiful | most beautiful
  • energetic | more energetic | most energetic
  • amazing | more amazing | most amazing
  • indefatigable | more indefatigable | most indefatigable
  • unforgettable | more unforgettable | most unforgettable

Adjectives that came from verbs in the past participle (-ed) and the present participle (-ing) forms always use more and most.

Past Participle

  • scared | more scared | most scared
  • loved | more loved | most loved
  • remembered | more remembered | most remembered
  • suggested | more suggested | most suggested
  • prepared | more prepared | most prepared

Present Participle

  • frightening | more frightening | most frightening
  • loving | more loving | most frightening
  • caring | more caring | most caring
  • surprising | more surprising | most surprising
  • promising | more promising | most promising

There are adjectives with two syllables that use -er/est

  • happy | happier | happiest
  • wacky | wackier | wackiest

There are adjectives with two syllables that use more/most

  • pleasant | more pleasant | most pleasant
  • thoughtful | more thoughtful | most thoughtful

But there are two-syllable adjectives that use both -er/-est and more/most

  • common | commoner | commonest
  • common | more common | most common

The last tip would be checking the dictionary. There are words with -er and -est included in the definition, it is likely used with the suffixes. Words with more or most likely use more and most.

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