Tag Archive - Uncomparables

Is Anything Absolutely Impossible?

Many adjectives describe “absolute” states—meaning they cannot (or should not) take modifiers like most, more, less, least, very, quite, or largely.

Some of these words are absolute, adequate, chief, complete, devoid, false, ideal, impossible, perfect, infinite, unanimous, and universal.

Think about how superfluous it is to say “he’s very perfect for the job” or “it’s quite impossible to do that.”

These adjectives are called “uncomparables” because they can’t take further compairing. If something is impossible, it’s already “absolutely” not possible. You can’t have something be more or less perfect (even though we often say things like this). And you don’t need to say an idea is largely universal or the details are “very” false. They are either false or true. It’s like saying someone is a little pregnant.

So watch out for those extraneous modifiers that tend to gravitate toward uncomparable adjectives. They are probably the most largely unavoidable (another uncomparable) mistakes writers can make.