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Most stupid or stupidest? Rules, and exceptions to them, for comparatives and superlatives

Writing for Business

Which is correct?

Some human engineering efforts are so blatant that they fool only the ________ end users.
a. most stupid
b. stupidest

Answer: b.

Explanation:
The rules are clear on how to form comparatives and superlatives — as long as the adjective or adverb you’re trying to modify has fewer or more than two syllables. For two-syllable words, like “stupid,” the rules get a little murky and sometimes you’re just going to have to rely upon your ear or take your best guess.

The general rule is: For the comparative/superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs, add er/est to one-syllable words and plunk more/most (or less/least) in front of words of two or more syllables. But there are exceptions to every rule and this one has more exceptions than most.

On Grammar Girl, Bonnie Trenga wrote about deciding on whether to add er/est suffixes or add more/most to form the comparative/superlative forms of adjectives. She found a rule for the exceptions to the rule:

Welcome as they were, surging sales weren't the biggest news of the year. Detroit celebrated when General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) made Mary Barra the auto industry's first female CEO, then held its breath while Ford (F, Fortune 500) CEO Alan Mulally dithered over a move to Seattle and Microsoft. The old Big Three, complaining about straining available production capacity, made plans to expand and hire. Tesla(TSLA) fired up electric car sales and refused to play by industry's rules, while Google(GOOG, Fortune 500) pioneered a car that drives itself.
我们要咬定青山不放松,持之以恒为群众办实事、解难事,促进社会公平正义,把发展硬道理更多体现在增进人民福祉上。
史蒂夫?乔布斯(Steve Jobs)去世后的三年中,维权投资者对苹果发起了攻击,一些人对没有乔布斯的苹果是否还能成功也失去了信心,但现年54岁的库克一直沉着应对。今年,他走出了前任的影子,以自己的一套价值观和议程给苹果公司打上了印记:他引进了新鲜人才,改变了苹果管理巨额现金的方式,扩大了苹果与外部的合作,更加关注社会问题。
That's particularly striking in Brazil, with its highly mixed population that has more blacks than any country with the exception of Nigeria. More than half of Brazil's population self-identified themselves as black or of mixed-race in the 2010 census.
总体来说,直播授课和录制内容均获得8.8分的高分(满分10分),在线互动和团队合作的评分略低。
“It’s very easy to see the leaders in the current market are in a fairly tenuous or precarious position right now,” Gilbert says. “That’s evident by how quickly they’re innovating on each new device type.”

圣文森特(St. Vincent),《数码证人》(Digital Witness), Loma Vista/Republic

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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