Incomparable Words - AMA Manual of Style

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Contents
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Incomparable Words 

Incomparable Words

Chapter:
Correct and Preferred Usage
Author(s):

Roxanne K. Young

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Incomparable Words

An adjective denoting an absolute or extreme state or quality does not logically admit of quantification or comparison. Thus, we do not, or should not, say deadest, more perfect, or somewhat unique. It is generally acceptable, however, to modify adjectives of this kind with adverbs such as almost, apparently, fortunately, nearly, probably, and regrettably. Listed below are words that should not be used with a comparative (more, less), superlative (most, least), or quantifying (quite, slightly, very) modifier.

absolute

omnipotent

ambiguous

original

complete [but: almost or nearly complete]

perfect [but: almost or nearly perfect]

comprehensive

preferable

entire

pregnant

equal

supreme

eternal

total

expert

ultimate

fatal [but: almost or nearly fatal]

unanimous [but: almost or nearly unanimous]

final

unique

full [but: half full, nearly full]

infinite

Note: In general, superlatives should be avoided in scientific writing.

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