Why is the comparative: livelier but not widelier?

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Why is the comparative: livelier but not widelier?

Unread postby Frauke » 03 Apr 2006, 16:47

Hello Lucy,

I was working on comparatives with my students (FCE) and we came across the following:

widely and more widely but
lively and livelier

My students asked me, why isn't it: widelier. They said, it didn't make sense to them; to be honest, it didn't make sense to me either.

Could you help me here to explain it to them? Thanks very much!


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Unread postby Lucy » 05 Apr 2006, 19:19

Dear Frauke,

I see what you mean; it does look confusing.

The explanation is that lively is an adjective but widely is an adverb.

To make comparatives of short adjectives (one syllable), as I’m sure you know, you add –er. Adjectives of two syllables that end in –y follow the same rule, for example, easier. For most other adjectives of two syllables, you use “more” to form the comparative, eg more polite.

However, with adverbs of two syllables that end in –ly, you use “more”. Other examples include more quickly (not quicklier) and more clearly (not clearlier).

I hope this clarifies things for you.

Best wishes,


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