More Real or Realer?

The dirt on his hands, his stale clothes and declining hygiene, his fading interest in food and drink, all helped to expose a more real vision of himself. – J.G. Ballard, High Rise (1975).

I was struck by the above passage recently while reading the book, specifically the bolded part – more real. I asked myself: why isn’t it correct to say realer?

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The Ten Most Common Words in the English Language

Before finding out what they are, please have a guess at what you think the ten most common words in the English language are (note that by word I mean the main word form, which¬†includes other forms of that word. For example, only dog would appear in the list, not dogs; or have might appear but not has, had or having). So you can’t see the list by mistake, here’s a picture of some puppies. Scroll past them (if you can) for the list. Continue reading

It was a Stormy and Dark Night…

Sounds strange, doesn’t it, that title? Of course, it should be It was a Dark and Stormy night… But why? The information is the exact same in both, so why does our brain insist that dark has to come before stormy? First of all, I want you to look at something near you. Anything at all. Now, describe it out loud in one sentence, using as many adjectives as you can. Don’t overthink it.

You might have come up with something like me: a small, black,¬†analogue¬†watch, or a thin black Toshiba laptop, or a tall, clear glass. Now try changing¬†the order of the adjectives you chose. It sounds wrong, doesn’t it. And that’s because there’s a rule that all native-speakers follow without¬†thinking about it, or even knowing about it at all. That¬†rule determines the order of types of adjectives we use. The correct order is as follows: Continue reading


A response to the daily prompt:

As anyone who’s had to learn English knows, it can be¬†a frustrating, illogical language¬†at times. It can be hard to find hard and fast rules, and when there are rules, there are always exceptions.

The word unstoppable though, is a nice example of how sometimes thinking logically about English makes sense. Continue reading