July 31st, 2013

purity of english

250th Answer -- Are absolute words absolutely absolute?

Congratulations, everyone, and welcome to our 250th Answer, written by guest grammarian pigsflew. My, how time flies!

Is it ever acceptable to qualify "unique" and other absolute words? (with examples from Mass Effect and the works of Alastair Reynolds)

A common pet peeve for many grammarians is when they read that something is "very unique" when "unique" by definition means that the item is the only example of its kind; to describe something as "more" or "less" so is often nonsensical. In general, it is a good idea to reexamine your diction when you find yourself attaching qualifiers to absolute words. However, every linguistic rule is made to be broken on occasion.

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