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What's the difference between these comparative adj forms?

  • более красивый
  • красивее
  • красивей
  • краше

Are they all used? Some adjectives apparently do not have all these forms. For instance for дорогой I only found дороже. Is that correct? Is there a way to know, which forms exist for a specific adjective and is there a general answer about the usage of these forms, or does it depend on the adjective?

Additionaly: What's the difference between the two forms of superlative of adjectives?

  • самый красивый
  • красивейший
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  • красивее/красивей — are the same, the short form being less neutral and used on a situational basis (depending on whether you feel you need to chop off a syllable here).
  • краше — old/colloquial, sometimes used for effect. Probably not in usual speech but a book, a public spech or an interview seems right. There are set expressions like "одна другой краше" (each even more beautiful than the other, i.e. all are very beautiful).
  • более красивый — if an adjective has a widely used simple comparative, a compound will sound more formal (because it is longer for no real reason) but stil grammatically correct.
    • It is very important that simple comparatives like "красивее" can be used as an adverb ("more beautifully") while compound forms cannot. You'll need "более красиво" for that.
    • Not all adjectives have a comparative. Only qualitative adjectives have them. "Относительные прилагательные", the adjectives that just classify an object as belonging to some type (American, governmental, wooden, almost all colors and so one) do not have them. If you want to go against the flow and still make a point about "beer even more German than real German beer" you are bound to use a compound comparative. For some a simple form sounds awkward but understandable (деревяннее, синее) but for adjectives like "русский", "английский" and so on it literally does not exist.

Now about самый красивый vs. красивейший. Save for some very popular adjectives, it the SIMPLE form that sounds more bookish and stilted. Personally I feel that "красивейший" is closer to the stilted side of the spectrum, so I use "самый красивый" in my speech.

  • "ЛУЧШИЙ"(or наилучший), "ХУДШИЙ" (наихудший), малейший (about things, mostly abstract!), are almost the best
  • "нежнейший", "сильнейший" and "умнейший" are OK. Больший/самый большой, меньший/самый маленький are both used with no clear advantage at either side.
  • Awkward "твердейший", "крепчайший", "слабейший", "сладчайший", "громчайший", "тишайший" are possibly much better off as "самый твёрдый", "самый слабый", "самый сладкий", "самый громкий", "самый тихий" in almost any style.

You can also use expressions like "красивее всех", "сильнее всех", "лучше всего" which mean the same (the most beautiful, the best), minus the impication that you compare it to other creatures/things (so you won't use "лучше всего" for people).

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  • Never heard "более красивый", only phrase "более лучше" which was said by Sveta from Ivanovo in Russian TV. Her phrase "мы стали более лучше одеваться" made her famous :) – Astronavigator Jan 10 '15 at 21:03
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There is no difference.
Yes, they all are used.
Краше is pretty old style, others are used very often.

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Yes these all are comparative adjectives and they mean the same:

более красивый
красивее
красивей
краше

I was considered about whether the красивей is officially correct. After research I have found that many articles say that this is a spoken language but the rules refer that both suffixes ее and ей are used for comparative adjectives .

"У прилагательных простая сравнительная степень образовывается с помощью суффиксов --ее,-ей. Поэтому вариантными формами сравнительной степени прилагательных "красивый" и "белый" являются красивее/красивей и белее/белей.Точно также образуются формы прилагательного "интересный"-- интереснее и интересней, "острый"-- острее и острей и т.д.

Дело здесь в стилистике. Формы прилагательных простой сравнительной степени с суффиксом -ее считаются стилистически нейтральными, а с суффиксом -ей характерны для разговорной или поэтической речи."

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To sum up, you will probably not find красивей but красивее in dictionaries (not in all, depends on dictionary) but it is definitely not a probleb to say красивей.

самый красивый
красивейший

are the same.

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The first four mean the same thing, but

более красивый - I would never use. Sounds grammatically incorrect, or rather "как-то не по-русски". Although, it is ok to say: менее красивый, чем

красивее - your number one choice, use this one, and you will never get it wrong

красивей - good enough for informal conversations, especially if you want to sound like an ordinary Russian

краше - could be used, but usually as a matter of figurative speech or something like that. If not sure, do not use this one or you may end up sounding weird. Safe ways to use it: 1) Let's say two children look messy as if they played in mad or have chocolate all over them. You can say with sarcasm: Один краше другого or одна краше другой 2) Proverb: краше в гроб кладут. Be careful, it sounds very offensive. May be used when someone looks very sick and ugly. Usually said behind someone's back or a mother may say it to a daughter if trying to make her take better care of herself.
3) Pay a complement when flirting with a young girl: краше тебя нет никого, but say it with a smile; mean it, but don't be too serious.

The following two mean very much the same; the difference is hardly noticeable:

самый красивый -- use in every day life or to point out the best looking person/item, but say it as a matter of fact, with no emotion. Also, use when pointing out / selecting the best one in a specific group 1) Вот тебе самое красивое яблоко (when selecting out of a box); 2) Самый красивый цветок -- у Наташи (assuming there are more people and more flowers); 3) Лондон -- самый красивый город из всех, где я бывала

красивейший -- ok to use with passion and when making a general statement, but avoid using when simply comparing things.
1) If one said: Лондон -- красивейший город, it would mean that one finds this city beautiful or one fell in love with London. It does not mean that one is actually comparing it to the rest of the world 2) Наташа нашла красивейший цветок! Means that she found an unusually beautiful or rare flower, again, this is not so much to compare, but merely an expression of the feeling. 3) If you took an apple out of a box and said seriously: Вот красивейшее яблоко, it would be like saying: "how do you do?" when it is more appropriate to say: "hey, what's up?"

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