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Speak good English: Get it correct

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BY: Eugenia Adjei Mensah

Last week we looked at a sentence which a reader had sent to me to determine whether it was correct or incorrect.

Another reader has asked me to explain to her why the sentence:

My daughter is the most prettiest girl in the school.
is correct or incorrect.

Let's begin by saying that, unlike the sentence sent to me last week, which didn't have the element of comparison, even though it was meant to compare one person with another, this instant sentence has that element of comparison — the superlative degree — since the girl in question is being compared with all the girls in the school.

So as far as the use of the element of comparison is concerned, the sentence is correct.

But speaking generally about grammar,  it is an incorrect sentence because the writer has combined the two main forms by which adjectives are compared in one adjective — most and prettiest.

As you may know, in English, every word has its way of forming the comparative and the superlative forms.

A few adjectives (good, bad, little, many, much, well) form their comparative and superlative degrees by using different words altogether.

Egs:

Esi wrote a good essay the other day.

But Sam's essay was better than Esi's.

Overall, Kofi's essay was the best.

Other adjectives form their comparative and superlative degrees by adding the letters-er and-est to the positive degree.

These adjectives include almost all mono-syllabic (big, small, rich, poor, tall, short, fine, great, etc) and some di-syllabic adjectives (heavy, ugly, dirty, pretty, lazy, silly, etc).

Eg:

Although Mr Boateng is rich, his wife is richer than he.

Meanwhile, their son is the richest in the family.

A car is heavy, but it can't be heavier than a bus.

But a train is the heaviest among the three.

Then there are those adjectives (decent, handsome, foolish, robust, attractive, powerful, important, interesting, extravagant, etc) that form their comparative and superlative degrees by using the words more and most, respectively, as prefixes.

Egs:
Although John is handsome, his younger brother is more handsome.

But among Mrs Osei's three sons, Stanley is the most handsome.
 (To be continued.)