by Barbara McNichol
Ever heard someone say “his bucket is emptier (or more empty) than mine”? How can something be emptier than empty?
The same holds true for all “absolute” words. In grammar, “absolute” means it can’t be compared. That is, you would never use “less” or “more” in front of these absolute words:
Consider the word “destroyed.” If a hurricane sweeps through a small town, it’s tempting to say, “Our town was destroyed.” But be careful. Destroyed is an absolute that means totally, completely gone; it doesn’t exist anymore—no streets, no rubble, no fences standing. Chances are the more accurate word is “damage.” So watch out for absolutes, clarify their true meaning, and use them correctly.
Your challenge: What other absolute words would you add to this list? Write them here.