Speak good English: Analysis of the sentences
We are continuing our analysis of the sentences I gave out the other time to determine whether they are correct or not and, if any is incorrect, find out what makes it incorrect.
We have, so far, looked at the first three sentences, all of which, we found out, are incorrect. 4. The pastor and the head teacher is my father.
This sentence is incorrect. This is because the subject — the pastor and the head teacher — as it is written, is plural and so it does not agree with the singular verb is.
The phrase the pastor and the head teacher refers to two persons:
a pastor and a head teacher.
That being the case, the verb should also be plural, so that it'll agree with the plural subject the pastor and the head teacher, as in:
The pastor and the head teacher are my fathers.
If, indeed, the pastor and the head teacher refers to one person, then it should be written or presented as:
the pastor and head teacher.
In that case, it can agree with the singular verb is, as in:
The pastor and head teacher is my father.
- Between James and John, the former is more taller.
This is another incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, many people form incorrect sentences like this all the time.
The incorrectness lies in the fact that the two ways of forming the comparative degree of adjectives have been combined in the phrase: more taller.
The adjective tall forms its comparative and superlative degrees by adding the letters -er and -est, respectively, to the positive degree, as in:
tall taller tallest
This is the case with most of the adjectives that have single syllables and some of the adjectives made up of two syllables, as in:
big bigger biggest
short shorter shortest
rich richer richest
fair fairer fairest
dark darker darkest
fat fatter fattest
slim slimmer slimmest
lazy lazier laziest
heavy heavier heaviest
pretty prettier prettiest
busy busier busiest
dirty dirtier dirtiest
ugly uglier ugliest
tasty tastier tastiest
It is a fact that other adjectives form their comparative and superlative degrees by using more and most, respectively, before the positive degree, as in:
more handsome most handsome
more talented most talented
Grammar does not allow us to combine the two forms in one adjective, the way we have it in sentence 4. above. The correct sentence should, therefore, be:
Between James and John, the former is taller.