Is Donald Trump the Humblest or the Most Humble Person in the World?

There may be one advantage to Donald Trump being President of the United States (only one!), though it’s quite a selfish one: he certainly gives me a lot of food for thought. Sometimes I really don’t want to write about him, or even think about him, or exist in the same universe as him, but he can be hard to ignore, particularly when he demonstrates his unusually dysfunctional relationship with the English language.

Last week he gave us another addition to the evergrowing list of did-he-actually-just-say-that? moments:

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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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He’s Much Smarter than I

Not a sentence I have occasion to use very often, obviously. It’s a fairly straightforward one, an example of a comparative form. I’m comparing myself with another person. Simple. Not the sort of thing we ever have to really think about it. Like much of the basics of grammar in your native tongue, it’s something you know and use correctly automatically. Well, you know it now, because you had to pick up how to use comparative forms correctly during your childhood.

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