Monday, January 15, 2007

Absolutes

I'm not sure how "good" of a question this is, but it was something that I keep thinking about from the exercises. Chapter 2 has the explanation about words like "unique" and "critical" being modified incorrectly. I was wondering if the explanation means that all verbs falling under the nature of being "something or not" (ie: it is unique or not/it is critical or not) can never be modified with words like most/more/extremely, like in the example? Or is it a case by case basis, depending on the word (so words like "unique" just can't be used with "most" or "more" but words like "critical" can)? Can't you say one person is more critical than another? Is there some kind of rule for this?

3 comments:

Pat said...

Yes, you can say one person is more critical than another.

Note that the explanation on p. 14 refers to a situation; in that case, "critical" means "having the potential to become disastrous; at a point of crisis." In that sense, the word should not have a modifier. If you look up "critical" in a good dictionary, you'll see it has other meanings as well.

Thinking about this situation critically [smile] will help us understand how important it is to use words precisely.

Ritchie Mae said...

So, depending on the particular definition of "critical" determines whether or not the word can be modified?

Pat said...

Yes, that's right, Ritchie.