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I would like to ask for your opinion on why much can not describe a normal adjective while it can describe a comparative form of an adjective. For instance, the sentence 1, 2 are wrong while 3, 4 are correct.

  1. I am much happy.
  2. He is much clever.
  3. I am much happier than you are.
  4. He is much cleverer than his brother.

I feel the sentence 1, 2 are weird and 3, 4 are natural. I get it. But, I would like to get any logical explanations on what would make that happen. I would appreciate any assumptions as well.

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    The absolute is not a matter of degree. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 28 '18 at 10:20
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Thank you for the comment.:) Do you mean that the adjectives in the sentence 1,2 are the absolute which doesn't have the quality of degree and that much can only describe an expression with a matter of degree? May I ask you explain it a little bit more? :) – Smart Humanism May 28 '18 at 17:18
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    This is not answered by saying that the absolute is not a matter of degree. Because it's fine to say I am very happy and I am only a little bit happy. But if we can't say I am much happy because happy implies an absolute, then we also shouldn't be able to use very or a litttle bit in front of it. Except we can. We can also say I am much more happy. There's something else going on here. – Jason Bassford May 28 '18 at 19:55
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    How to use much is discussed here: dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/quantifiers/…. However, it doesn't explain why. – Jason Bassford May 28 '18 at 20:22
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    Don't get wrapped up in the notion of happiness. This isn't about happiness per se but about the assertions, the predications. To say I am happy is to state things in absolute terms. To say I am very happy or I am much happier now is to state things in relative terms. Adjectival quantifier much has no place in an absolute assertion. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 29 '18 at 11:48
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It is because if you were adding 'Much' in front of 'happy', the normal quantity of happiness increases to an excessive quantity, so it is odd just to write 'Much happy', but 'much happier' does make sense.

I am very happy.

I am only a little bit happy. 

However, in the both cases, it is fine not to change 'happy' to 'happier', because 'very' and 'only a little bit' does not make the quantity of happiness above the normal level, but the lower level in the latter case and just emphasizing 'happy' in the former case, so both do make sense.

  • Thank you for answering. I think your answer sounds plausible but I cannot get it perfectly. For the first, I cannot just get that "much" is greater than "very" in terms of the level of the meaning. – Smart Humanism Aug 26 '18 at 8:03
  • @Smart Humanism "Very" is just emphasizing the quantity of happiness, as it is, but "Much" is increasing the quantity of happiness, so "Happy" doesn't have to be "Happier" when modified by "Very" unlike "Much". – SinK Aug 28 '18 at 18:43
  • While you are correct about "very happier" not being correct, there's nothing wrong with "only a little bit happier"; it describes a small difference in happiness. – Darael Dec 17 '18 at 20:31

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