Simpler or More Simple: Correct Comparative (UK vs. US)

When comparing things in the English language, there are many rules to consider. Sometimes you can add ‘er’ to the end of the word, while other times you can’t and just add the word “more” instead. Today, we’ll be discussing “simpler” and “more simple”.

Simpler or More Simple?

Both “simpler” and “more simple” are considered correct in casual conversation. However, “simpler” is considered the better term because the root adjective “simple” has two syllables. Grammatical rules state that when an adjective has two syllables, you make it ‘more so’ by adding ‘r’ or ‘er’ at the end.

simpler or more simple

You can hear both “simpler” and “more simple” are used interchangeably with one another in casual everyday conversation, such as when talking to a friend. You can use either term to compare two things that are both described as “simple”.

For example:

  • Two simple ways to cook an egg: fried or hard-boiled.
  • You can compare these two simple ways by saying: Making a hard-boiled egg is simpler than frying it.

Grammatical rules state that you can compare adjectives in two ways: by adding the letters ‘r’ or ‘er’ to the end of the word or adding the word “more” before the word.

The first step is to look at the number of syllables the word “simple” has. Since it has two syllables, the most grammatically correct way to compare two things that are “simple” is to use the word “simpler”.

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Simpler

“Simpler” is a common, and the most grammatically correct, way to compare two things that are both described as “simple”.

When you are comparing adjectives that have two syllables, you have to either add the letters ‘er’ or ‘r’ at the end of the word, if the word already ends with the letter ‘e’.

The word “simple” has two syllables and ends with the letter ‘e’ As such, the rules of grammar state that you need to add the letter ‘r’ when comparing two things that are “simple”.

In casual everyday conversation, however, you will often hear it used interchangeably with the phrase “more simple”.

Below are examples of how to use the word “simpler” in a sentence:

  1. I don’t know why you insist on frying that egg, when making a scrambled egg is simpler.
  2. There are simpler ways to download that file than to go through all those steps.
  3. Martha and Thomas work faster than Charisse and Rachel because they use simpler methods to finish their tasks.
  4. The sequel has a simpler plot than the original movie.
  5. I want to make my life simpler than it is.

More Simple

You can use the phrase “more simple” to compare two things described as “simple”. It is frequently used in casual conversation, however, it is not the most grammatically correct way to compare the adjective.

If you want to compare two things both described as “simple”, but don’t want to use the word “simpler for whatever reason, you can use the phrase “more simple”.

While “simple” is technically the more grammatically correct term, “more simple” is also commonly used by native English speakers. The two can be, and are often, used interchangeably with one another.

Below are examples of how to use the phrase “more simple” in a sentence:

  1. Kyle’s project is more simple than his twin sister’s.
  2. I need to learn a more simple song on the piano because this one is too hard.
  3. My aunt’s Thanksgiving dinner is more simple than my mother’s, but that’s probably because she works on holidays.
  4. Her line is far more simple than yours, so I don’t understand why you can’t say it properly!
  5. I want to make my life more simple than it is.

Simpler or More Simple In the UK?

“Simpler” is more popularly used than “more simple” in the United Kingdom and other places that use British English. This is based on data from Google Ngram Viewer, from books written in British English that were published between the years 1900-2019.

Google Ngram Viewer lets us compare the frequency of usage of certain words and phrases in a wide range of books.

simpler or more simple usage

Based on data from books published between the years 1900-2019 that use British English, we can infer that “simpler” is more commonly used than “more simple” in the United Kingdom.

The status of “simpler” as the more popular term has remained constant since 1900, although the peak of its popularity was from approximately 1953 to 1963.

Simpler or More Simple In the US?

“Simpler” is more commonly used than “more simple” in the United States and other areas that use American English, according to Google Ngram Viewer. We can infer this from data from books written in American English published between the years 1900-2019.

We can use Google Ngram Viewer to compare how often certain words and phrases are used in a wide range of books.

When comparing two things described as “simple”, it seems that “simpler” is the most popular term in the United States, based on data from books published between the years 1900-2019 that were written in American English.

Since 1900, the word “simpler” has been more popular than “more simple” in the US. Interestingly, the peak of its popularity was in around 1962.

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