You are engaged in conversation with somebody and getting along well. Things are going smoothly until your conversational partner says something you do not understand. You need them to express what they spoke differently. You say, “Could you be more clear?” But is it correct to say “more clear?”
It is incorrect to say “more clear.” Instead, opt for “clearer” or “more clearly.” The grammatically correct way to express the comparative adjective form of clear is “clearer,” and as an adverb, say “more clearly.” Although many English speakers use “more clear” in their daily conversations, it is incorrect.
In this article, we will discuss why “more clear” is an improper use of “clearer” and how you should balance the two expressions.
What Does “More Clear” Mean?
“More” can mean “greater, in addition, or to a higher degree.” “Clear” can mean “cloudless, serene, transparent, easily seen or visible, or plain” (source). When someone wants someone to be “more clear,” they mean they are confused and need what you said to be more easily understandable.
So, “more clear” can have a few meanings. With more time and practice, you will be able to pick up the specific definition of “clear” your conversation partner intends by the context of the sentence.
For example, if someone says the sky is clear, they mean there are no clouds in the sky, and the sun is shining. If someone says the message is clear, they can easily understand what the message’s sender is trying to say.
If someone says their conscience is clear, they mean that they do not have any guilt about what they may have done or said. They may even feel justified if their conscience is clear.
However, if someone says the table is clear, they mean to say that there is nothing on the table’s surface. Likewise, if someone says a room is clear, they mean no one is in the room – the space is empty.
When water is clear, you can see through the water very easily or deeply. That meaning of “clear” goes for most other objects as well. So, for example, if someone wants you to look for a clear drinking glass, it should be transparent and colorless.
Putting “More” and “Clear” Together
“More” just means an increase in the quantity of something. For example, sometimes, if you are especially hungry, you will eat “more food.” And if you are having a bad day when someone cuts you off in traffic, you can get “more angry.” You get the idea.
So if someone needs the sky to be “clearer” or “more clear” to feel safe on a sailboat, there may be a storm on the horizon. Both “clearer” and “more clear” forms work in this scenario.
There are tons of ways that you can use “clear.” However, the form the word takes on depends significantly on the context. So next, we will discuss how to use “more clear.”
How Do You Use “More Clear”?
Use “more clear” to say you see or hear something better. You can also use it to ask people to repeat themselves or even to describe something that seems more pure and spotless. You use “more clear” the same way that you would use “clearer” or “more clearly.” However, it is grammatically incorrect, so only use it informally.
It is easy to think of the expression “more clear” as a less formal way of saying “clearer” and “more clearly.” “More clear” works as an adjective and an adverb. However, since it is informal, you should only use it with friends and acquaintances, not in professional settings.
Use “more clear” to ask someone to clarify something, clean something, or describe something clean or uncluttered. You can also use “more clear” to explain something more directly or straightforwardly. There are lots of different ways you can use “more clear.” The main limiting factor is the people to whom you are talking.
When Can You Use “More Clear”?
You can use “more clear” in various informal circumstances. For example, you can use “more clear” when you want people to express themselves more efficiently or directly. You can also use it when you compare your morning traffic to previous days.
Since “more clear” is an informal way of expressing “more clearly” and “clearer,” you should limit your usage of it to people who know you well. Speaking plainly is an art in today’s day and age, but do not confuse speaking plainly with speaking well.
When someone speaks well, they follow the rules of English grammar. Their sentences are neat and orderly, which gives strangers the impression that they are intelligent and aware of their surroundings.
However, once people get to know you, you can begin to speak plainly and loosen your usage of proper English grammar. This informality usually denotes friendship or comfort with the people around you. Such loosening happens when you use “more clear.”
After all, “more clear” is just an informal comparative adjective. Some comparative adjectives, like “clearer,” follow the “-er” rule (source). However, you can use “more clear” when comparing no more than two objects. Next, we will discuss the situations where you should avoid “more clear.”
When Not to Use “More Clear”
Avoid using “more clear” when comparing three objects or more because it only compares two things at a time. Instead, use “more clear” in familiar and friendly company, but not the company of strangers.
In English, we use the comparative to compare two things. Some examples of comparative adjectives are “better,” “faster,” “bigger,” and “smaller.” We use the superlative when we compare more than two things at a time. Some examples of superlative adjectives are “best,” “fastest,” and “smallest.”
Since you should not use “more clear” when comparing three or more things, you will say “clearest” instead. So, for example, between the Mediterranean sea, the Dead Sea, and the Red sea, the water in the Mediterranean sea is the “clearest.”
You should also pay attention to the people around you when using “more clear.” If you choose to use it, it should be with people who know you well and who will not use that interaction to gauge your manners. Next, we will go over some more examples of “more clear” so you can use landmarks in daily conversations.
Using “More Clear” in a Full Sentence
Though “more clear” is grammatically incorrect, English speakers use it informally as a comparative adjective. As such, you may place it after a “to be” verb to describe a noun or immediately before the noun it modifies. However, as a comparative adverb, you will place it directly after the verb it modifies.
We have already demonstrated how many ways we can use “clear.” Here are some statements you may hear in everyday conversations. The modified noun is purple, the verb is red, the adjective is dark blue, and the adverb is light blue.
- Thank you for listening. My conscience is more clear now.
- You explained the plans thoroughly. They are more clear in my head now.
- Believe it or not, the road is more clear when it fogs compared to when it mists.
- Thank you for cleaning the windows. I can see more clear now!
- I feel like today would be a good day to escape. The coast seems more clear now.
- With a schedule, I think more clear.
The only place you are not likely to place “more clear” is at the beginning of a full sentence.
There are plenty of other sentences to make with “more clear.” So get creative and make some of your own!
What to Use Instead of “More Clear”
Since “more clear” is technically grammatically incorrect, you should avoid it entirely in semiformal and formal contexts. Direct synonyms are “clearer” and “more clearly” for the adjective and adverb functions, but there are a few more to consider.
For adjectives, you may use any of the following in place of “more clear” depending on context:
- More understandable
- More comprehensible
- More direct
- More transparent
- More evident
- More visible
Adverbs that are synonymous with “more clear” are the following:
- More plainly
- More distinctly
- More understandably
- More obviously
- More visibly
- More noticeably
- More evidently
These lists are far from comprehensive, so do some research to learn more!
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
As we previously discussed, we use comparative adverbs and adjectives when we compare two things in English. However, when comparing three or more items, we use superlative adjectives and adverbs (source).
“More clear” is a version of “clearer” and “more clearly.” It is apparent that “more clear” is an informal comparative expression. We typically use “more clear” to compare against the state in which the same object was before a change. For example, you could say, “The road is more clear now,” which compares the road to a previous state.
We use superlative adjectives and adverbs when comparing three or more objects. In the example of “clear,” the three degrees are “clear,” “clearer,” and “clearest.” Make sure you are using the right degrees of adjectives and adverbs!
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
To learn more about comparative and superlative adjectives, read Clearer or More Clear: Understanding the Proper Usage of Degrees of Comparison and Cleverer or More Clever: Which Is Correct?
In summary, “more clear” is just an incorrect informal version of “clearer,” the comparative form of “clear.” We typically use colloquial language around our friends and family — those who are not creating first impressions of us. We speak more formally when addressing strangers and acquaintances.
English speakers say “more clear” pretty often. It can be a stylistic touch to your English that can show others you know how to speak colloquially, but it can also be a sign that you never learned English grammar rules. Of course, it all depends on the people you have around you.