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ESL forum > Ask for help > Grammar structure    

Grammar structure



Urpi
Peru

Grammar structure
 
Hi dear colleagues: There ´s a grammar structure which I am not familiar with
it is  a comparative but for me it should be a superlative but I found it in a good book so it is not mistaken but it´s really weird.
eg. The party was all THE BETTER for you being there.
      Maria is one of THE NICER PEOPLE I know.
Can you send me some links where I could find more examples and exercises about it?
Pleaseeeeeeeee Confused

Thanks a bunch for taking the time.

7 Jun 2011      



maryse peyé
France

makes me think of the structure : the more the better.
 
that is to say the more we are the better it is.

7 Jun 2011     



HollyHirst
United Kingdom

Hmmmm, I couldn ´t find any resources but the first one seems to me like a set phrase - you can hear ´all the better ´ and ´all the worse ´ quite frequently and it seems to me that the ´all the ´ phrase is simply used to strengthen the comparison.  I found this http://idioms.yourdictionary.com/all-the which has an example of an ´all the... ´ structure and explains it (look at example 1)
 
In the second example, well...again I couldn ´t really find anything to help you but I would say that the use of a comparative structure here lessons the degree of the adjective.
 
E.g. She is one of the nicest people I know = she is incredibly nice and in the top 5 nice people I know
 
She is one of the nicer people I know = she is (probably) nice, maybe not top 5..., in the top 50% percent..
 
In my opinion, it can also imply something about the people she is being compared with.  In the first example, the use of the superlative implies that you know lots of other nice people and she is one of the very nicest.  In the second example, we aren ´t left with the same idea about the people she is being compared with.  They may, in fact, all be evil but because she is only 60% evil she is one of the nicer ones...
 
That was all a bit confusing... I ´m sorry if it was a ramble that didn ´t help!

7 Jun 2011     



Apodo
Australia

all the better is a common phrase as HollyHirst said.
 
It ´s used in informal speech with friends:
 
How are you today? I ´m all the better for seeing you.
(I ´m well, but seeing you makes me feel even better)
 
 The party was all the better for you being there.
The party was good but better because you were there.
 
Maria is one of THE NICER PEOPLE I know.

I know many people, some are nice and some are very, very nice.
Maria is one of the very, very nice people.
(But not necessarily the nicest, there could be several very nice people in a group of friends, and Maria is one of them)
 
´one of the nicest ´ is probably heard more often in moden informal English.

8 Jun 2011     



ldthemagicman
United Kingdom

Dear Urpi,

In general, I agree with the other contributors.

Oxford English Dictionary --- “The” (6) Used adverbially with comparatives to indicate how one amount or degree varies in relation to another: “The more she thought about it, the more devastating it became”.

(Usually “all the ---“) used to emphasise the amount or degree to which something is affected: “Commodities made all the more desirable by their rarity”.   

Another phrase which comes to me is: “The sooner, the better!”  (“We must perform the action as soon as possible, because it is obvious that the result will be better for everyone.  So we must not delay, and have a worse result”.)

There is a children´s story, "Little Red Riding Hood".  The Big Bad Wolf is disguised as the Grandmother.
 
Little Red Riding Hood: "Oh, Grandma!  What big eyes you have!"
Big Bad Wolf: "All the better to see you with!"
Little Red Riding Hood: "Oh, Grandma!  What big ears you have!"
Big Bad Wolf: "All the better to hear you with!"
Little Red Riding Hood: "But, Grandma!  What big teeth you have!"
Big Bad Wolf: "All the better to EAT YOU UP!"

Let us look at your first sentence.  “The party was all the better for you being there”.  (“Because you were there, the party was a better party than if you had not been there”

I am pedantic, so I would say: “The party was all the better for your being there”, (Because you were there, the party was all the better for your presence/your visit/your appearance).

Quirk and others, (2010, p 1063-1064), “A Comprehensive Grammar of the English language”, give similar constructions --- “I intend to voice my objections to their receiving an invitation to our meeting”.  (I intend to voice my objections to their receipt of an invitation to our meeting.)   Your driving a car to New York took longer than I expected”.  (Your journey to New York took longer than I expected”.)

I find myself in some difficulty when I read your second sentence.  “Maria is one of the nicer people I know”.

My immediate reaction is: “Nicer in comparison with which other person?”  Admittedly, “nicer” is qualified by “one of the”, so she has several friends who are ‘nicer’ than others.

When I read this as an isolated sentence, without any other information, it says to me:

“I know several people.  The majority of them are unpleasant.

“However, some of them are not as unpleasant as the others.  These people are nicer than the unpleasant people.

“One such person is Maria.  She is one of the nicer people I know.

“However, my nicest friend is XYZ.  She is the very best person that I know”.

I tend to see Comparatives as a comparison between 2 people or things; but Superlatives as a choice of the best, (or worst), from a group of 3 or more.

However, the Superlative is not necessarily just 1 person or thing, but can be more than 1 person or thing.  For example: “The best things in life are free!”  

Also, I think we could say:  “I have lots of nice friends, but my nicest friends are Sonia and Peter, because ... ,” (for example).

I am with Apodo, who says:”´one of the nicest ´ is probably heard more often in modern informal English”.

In conversation, I would say: “One of the nicest people I know is ABC”.  These are just my thoughts.

Les

8 Jun 2011