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Grammar 101: More Easily Is Easier

December 22nd, 2008 by

In previous Grammar 101 posts, I discussed some odd singular-plural pairs, the difference between less and fewer, and how to use apostrophes, among other things. One common error that I’ve been seeing a lot lately (especially with television commercials) is the confusion between adjectives and adverbs.

Taking a short stroll back to elementary school, you may recall that an adjective is used to describe or modify a noun, whereas an adverb is used to describe or modify a verb. Take the following sentence as an example:

The sly fox crawled slowly toward the rabbit.

In that sentence, “sly” is an adjective (describing the fox) and “slowly” is an adverb (described how the fox crawled. For most people who are familiar with the English language, the distinction between an adjective and an adverb appears to be quite clear, but there are certain instances where the two get easily confused. Perhaps the most common of these instances is differentiating between “easier” and “more easily.” This error is perhaps even more common than misusing affect and effect.

“Easier” is an adjective, used to describe a noun. His job is easier than mine is. “More easily” is an adverb, used to describe an action. The new car runs more easily than the old car. This sounds like a simple enough distinction, but I’ve seen quite a few places where ad companies (and people) used “easier” where they really should have used “more easily.”

Pay your bills easier with online billing.

In this example, it should be written as “Pay your bills more easily with online billing.” We are describing how the bills can be paid. By contrast, it would be correct to use “easier” in the following sentence, because “bill paying” is actually a noun. It is short for “the act of bill paying.”

Make bill paying easier with online billing.

In addition to easier and more easily, there are many other cases where such confusion may occur. Colloquially, you could probably get away with minor errors like these, but if you want to find success as a freelancer, you’ll want to keep these little quirks in check.

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Michael Kwan Freelance Writer

13 Responses to “Grammar 101: More Easily Is Easier”

  1. Nick says:

    Hmmm, I’ve never really thought about the distinction between these two. Makes me wonder how many times I’ve used them wrong, although as tough as the distinction is to make I will probably not fret about it too much in the future :S

  2. efish says:

    What about, Some people give up more easily than others?

  3. Ma Fernanda says:

    And could you tell me what about the word friendly?

    Friendlier or more friendly? Which one is the correct? Thanks!!

  4. Maris says:

    And another one: “It would be easier to answer to more specific questions.” I’m not sure if “it would be” belongs more to noun or verb.

  5. elaine says:

    Is “any” singular or plural in this example:

    If any of the offerings are suitable, please reply.
    If any of the offerings is suitable, please reply.

    thanks,
    elaine

    • Michael Kwan says:

      I believe it’s singular, because a “one” is implied in that sentence:

      If any one of the offerings is suitable, please reply.

      Bear in mind that “any” could be either singular or plural, depending on context.

      “If any offerings are suitable…” would also be correct.

      Any product you want is available.
      Any products you want are available.

    • Reaperoa says:

      Way late, but…

      Any is actually neither. It’s instead an adjective. The noun of the sentence is offerings, which is in fact plural.

      Any is actually never a noun. A quick check to see if a word is a noun: Stick it into the sentence “(A/The) [blank] ran.”

      If we use something like “The house ran.” it’s silly, but it also makes sense. However, if we put an adverb or adjective in there “The red ran.” it turns out nonsensical. You can’t even imagine it in but the most roundabout ways.

  6. Krasimir says:

    Thanks for the explanations!

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