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A student presented me this quiz question

I am no longer satisfied with my job, and I would really like to find something more ______

  A) attracting    C) suited
  B) exhausting    D) challenging

Her answer was C) but the correct answer is D) for (so I rationalised) two reasons.

Firstly, the meaning of challenging fits better in the example sentence. The speaker seems to be bored and wants to find something more exciting and demanding to do. A job that will put his or her talents to the test. Moreover, a person can be suited to a job and still be unsatisfied. The second reason is that the adjective in C) should be changed to "suitable".

But I would like to know why suited would be grammatically wrong.

I believe that a job can be ‘suited to someone’ and ‘suitable for someone’. I don't see any significant difference in meaning between the two; however, saying

  1. “He'd like to find something more suited”
    sounds wrong compared to
  2. “He's like to find something more suitable.”
    but I can't explain why.

As you can see below, both forms can take the comparative, yet I am certain that C) is also grammatically incorrect. But I can't explain why.

Oxford Dictionaries say

suited ADJECTIVE
1. [predicative] Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.

‘the task is ideally suited to a computer’
‘the job is well suited to your abilities and experience’
‘Howard is naturally more suited than Latham to the debate format.’

and

suitable ADJECTIVE
Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.

‘these toys are not suitable for children under five’
‘From this she can assess which skin areas to focus on and also whether the treatment is suitable.’
‘After all, what's more suitable than a nice pair of trainers to help you keep on running?’

  • 1
    I think you're mistaken when you say option C (suited) is "grammatically incorrect". There are many written instances of something more suited to his (needs, expectations, whatever in Google Books, and syntactically it's much the same whether we assume the unstated element suited to me / my needs for C, or challenging for me in D. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 at 13:21
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers the phrase ends with "more suited" if it had to = noun phrase/possessive/object pronoun, I'd agree that it would fit. If you can find examples where the sentence ends with only those two words then I'm willing to call defeat. – Mari-Lou A Jun 3 at 13:32
  • I assume most if not all written instances of the sequence more suited but meet that criterion. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 at 13:37
  • @FumbleFingers so either one would be fine? Yet, instinctively I opted for D, for the reasons stated above, and the answer in the student's book confirmed D) but without supplying any explanation. – Mari-Lou A Jun 3 at 13:41
  • Well, you have a pretty good ear for English, and you're quite right to say the usage we're talking about here is a bit "strange, unusual". But that doesn't mean it's inherently ungrammatical (whatever "grammatical" means in this context! :) – FumbleFingers Jun 3 at 13:57
1

One would be likely to say "John is suited to that job" or "That job is suited to John". (In either case "well-suited might be used instead". One might say or write:

  • I would really like to find something more suitable.
  • I would really like to find something more suited to me.
  • I would really like to find something better suited to me.

But I, at least would not write or say "I would really like to find something more suited". Hearing this I want to ask "suited to what?" I can't identify any specific rule of grammar that this violates, but I don't think it is fully natural in current US-English.

This Google Ngram shows that "something more suitable" is significantly more common than "something more suited" but that does not limit results to ones that closely match the forms used in this question.

  • Whilst I agree this specific use of suited (rather than suitable) isn't particularly "natural", it's not obvious to me we can justify our unease on the basis of ...more suited to what? You could say exactly the same as regards ...more challenging for who?, but that one doesn't raise any hackles. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 at 14:24
  • 1
    @ FumbleFingers Yes you could, but in practice one doesn't, or at least I don't. I see such use of "more challenging" in a corporate context very often. The implication is "more challenging for me", or for the job-holder if the sentence is not in the first person. Why we accept that implication, but not one for suited easily, i cannot say. – David Siegel Jun 3 at 14:29
  • I'm guessing it's just that we'd usually use suitable in such contexts anyway, so the less common (more dated?) alternative automatically sounds strange simply because we don't often encounter it. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 at 14:49

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