What's the comparative and superlative of shy and dry? I've found you can either keep the y or change it for ier / iest.

shyer - shyest or shier- shiest Dryer -dryest or drier - driest

Also more shy and more dry.

They reasoning for keeping the y being that unlike friendly or ugly, the y is strong and sounds like /ai/

  • Look it up in a dictionary.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 22:54
  • 1
    I did. They say different things. Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


There are English words with disputed or multiple spellings, e.g., buses & busses; theater & theatre; draft & draught; and hiccup & hiccough.

In some case they're regional differences - use colour in the UK, color in the US. In some cases, orthography has changed over time. And, unlike other languages which formalized spelling, such as French with the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France, English spelling rules have been set by a few arbiters. So what is the student to do? After due diligence, consulting dictionaries with conflicting answers, ask the instructor what's preferred... being aware that the next instructor might have differing views! C'est la vie.


As these Google Ngrams searches show, both varieties exist. If there's a clearly preferred spelling, it's in bold.

dryest/driest (my spellchecker doesn't even accept "dryest")

  • 2
    Your first ngram is going to match hits for the noun dryer (which is also apparently spelled drier).
    – Laurel
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 2:59
  • @Laurel I'd fix it, but Ngrams is only returning single word searches for me right now
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 3:10
  • 2
    Doesn't _ADJ work?
    – Laurel
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 3:12
  • 1
    @Laurel Never saw that before!
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 3:45

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