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Gentler vs more gently

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  • Richie Lim
    Participant
    6 August, 2012 at 7:05
    • Total posts: 3

    Hi,

    For this question, it seems to me both gentler and more gently are correct. But the answer given is #4 more gently. Why is it so? What are the rules governing this? Slower or more slowly?

    Q. The _____ you move your paint brush across the paper, the finer the strokes.
    1. gentle
    2. gentler
    3. more gentler
    4. more gently

    Thanks to the team in advance,
    Richie Lim

    dan
    Moderator
    6 August, 2012 at 10:12
    • Total posts: 770

    Reply To: Gentler vs more gently

    Hi Richie

    More gently is correct.

    Gently is an adverb, giving us some information about how we move the paint brush (we move the paint brush gently). In this sentence we want to make gently into a comparative form – to do this we add more.

    Gentler, on the other hand, is the comparative form of the adjective gentle. An adjective doesn’t work in this case because we want to give more information about how we move the paint brush, not about the paint brush itself. In other words, we want to give more information about a verb, not about a noun, and to do this we need an adverb.

    In the second half of the sentence, finer is the comparative form of the adjective fine – in this case we need an adjective to give us more information about the noun strokes.

    In your question you end with "Slower or more slowly". let’s look at this one:

    slow – adjective
    slower – comparative adjective
    slowly – adverb
    more slowly – comparative adverb

    Ok so far, we’re following the same rules as with "more gently" and "finer". But in informal Englsih, we often use "slower" as the comparative adverb form, so we get, for example:

    "Can you talk slower please?"

    Slower in this example is clearly giving us more information about how the person talks (or rather how we would like the person to talk) and so is the comparative form of the adverb slowly.

    Compare this to:

    "Snails are slower than rabbits".

    In this example slower is giving us information about a noun (snails) and so is the comparative form of the adjective slow.

    And this is where the confusion often comes with adjectives and adverbs – adjectives and adverbs sometimes have the same form (e.g. hard, fast, daily), some adjectives end in -ly and are not normally adverbs (e.g. likely, friendly), some adverbs have two forms, often with a difference in meaning (e.g. high, highly)… there is quite a lot of potential for confusion!

    Hope that helps.

    Dan

    Richie Lim
    Participant
    7 August, 2012 at 2:11
    • Total posts: 3

    Reply To: Gentler vs more gently

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks so much for explaning these in details!!

    Really appreciate it.

    Regards,
    Richie Lim (Singapore)

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