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Is it grammatically correct?

Milk is more preferable to tea.

I think preferable in itself is an absolute adjective so more preferable does not make any sense but if it is correct please give me more details

  • 1
    "Milk is preferable to tea" would be grammatically correct, but if you want to convey a comparison between the two, you should write "than". So "Milk is more ... than tea". (Not sure which word to use there though; "preferable wouldn't fit.) – Mr Lister Jul 12 '18 at 6:24
  • Milk is preferable. But tea is more preferable to milk. – Strawberry Jul 12 '18 at 10:54
  • Yes. It's grammatically correct. By which I mean that you can use this phrase in polite company, without fear of causing any linguistic offence. – Strawberry Jul 12 '18 at 10:55
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    Milk is conceivably more desirable than tea to some, although not to me ;-). – Peter A. Schneider Jul 12 '18 at 15:12
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According to Collins Dictionary, in British English the more should be omitted. It doesn't specify for American English.

preferable USAGE

Since preferable already means more desirable, one should not say something is more preferable or most preferable

I think you'll probably find that more preferable is used quite often, despite being technically incorrect. I'd even go as far as to say more preferable is even more common than just preferable on its own.

A situation where you might legitimately use more preferable is a sentence like:

Milk and tea are both preferable to water, but milk is more preferable.

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    As to your last suggestion, you can also say "Milk and tea are both preferable to water, but milk is more preferable than tea." This isn't a correction to your answer, but rather an example that is closer to the OP's original sentence. – Flater Jul 12 '18 at 8:32
  • according to oxford advanced learners dictionary "preferable than" is incorrect usage it should be preferable to – Kshitij Singh Jul 12 '18 at 9:01
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    @KshitijSingh That's only when using it without the more. More preferable than is fine, but preferable than on its own is bad. – Omegastick Jul 12 '18 at 9:04
  • Regarding American English, as a midwestern American I’d omit the “more” as well. – bogardpd Jul 12 '18 at 12:48
  • Regarding the last suggestion, I still think the gramatically correct way to write should be: "Milk and tea are both preferable to water, but milk is preferable to tea.". In my opinion, "more preferable than is as wrong and redundant as more preferable to. – Alisson Jul 12 '18 at 13:10
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more adds comparison no matter what. So, when you compare two things, more just says which one is better. In this case, milk is more preferable. It adds up a degree.

To understand this, we can take another example. Suppose the conversation is going on like...

What should I prefer having? Coffee or tea? ~ Well, coffee is preferable.
Okay, and what about milk? ~ Ah, milk is more preferable than coffee.

So, in some contexts, it emphasizes that something is better than the other thing.

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    Note that your correct version is correct because you changed "to" to "than". OP's example (more preferable to tea) is not correct, for the reasons he lists. However, your example (milk is more preferable than coffee) is correct, because you are comparing them to a third option (tea), rather than comparing the two options themselves (milk/coffee). What you're essentially saying is "the amount of my preference of milk over tea is larger than the amount of my preference of coffee over tea". – Flater Jul 12 '18 at 8:36
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"Milk is more preferable to tea."

This is grammatically incorrect if you are seeking to convey a preference for milk over tea by a person.

Milk is the subject of the sentence. Tea is the object. The sentence (incorrectly I assume) places tea as having a preference about milk.

"more preferable to" demands that the next available noun function as the object of the sentence.

A related sentence:

Cold water is more preferable to Mrs Strauch.

This is grammatically correct if you are seeking to convey Mrs Strauch's preference for cold water.

However, "Cold water is preferable to Mrs Strauch" has two separate and distinct meanings. 1. Mrs Strauch has a preference for cold water. 2. The speaker/writer prefers cold water to Mrs Strauch.

"is preferable to" allows for both possibilities. This dual meaning is made use of in both humour and invective.

  • That's interesting, so are you saying that the inclusion of "more preferable to" changes the sentence into a passive voice? If so where's the passive verb form? I don't agree with this answer. In my view subject is normally first unless the sentence is of passive voice construction, and I don't believe that there is any ambiguity here. I think this is grammatically correct but semantically wrong. I only see one grammatically correct meaning with mrs strauch; that is that she's so obnoxious that people would rather have water. – Owl Jul 12 '18 at 16:07
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"Preference" is a binary decision in the sense that the object of preference is more desirable than the alternative(s). So, it makes no sense to say "more preferable" because if it is preferred then it is already more desirable as already pointed out above. As J.R. points out, it is an absolute adjective. However, "more preferred" may make more sense in casual conversation. For example, if someone is talking about the preferences of a group of people then they might say that vanilla is more preferred than strawberry, meaning that vanilla is preferred more often or by more people than strawberry. This, of course, is ridiculous as everyone knows that strawberry is universally preferred to vanilla.

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