'Preferable to' or "More preferable than'?

Is it good English to say ‘more preferable than’ rather than ‘preferable to’?
(In fact we set questions including the former for error identification or correction, and we treat the latter as standard English)

I would use the latter.


The comparative ‘idea’ is already contained in the word ‘preferable’. This makes the use of ‘more’ unnecessary.

No, you are wrong. Unfortunately, I have seen the former used by you on this Forum.

Yes, Alan. I’m aware of it. Thank you.

(Please see this link: www.eng-test.net/forum/sutra5330[color=red]68.html#5330[color=red]68 at # 22)

  1. Tea is preferable to coffee.
  2. Tea is preferable than coffee.
  3. Tea is preferable over coffee.
    Out of these three sentences which one is the most preferred?

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, T.H.:
I was wondering whether the following info from one expert might interest you.

Some people flatter Bryan A. Garner as being the “American [Henry] Fowler.” His A DICTIONARY OF MODERN AMERICAN USAGE is followed by many people.

This is his opinion:

“[T]he word [preferable] takes to, not than.”

Thus, Mr. Garner says that each “than” in these examples should be changed to “to” [I have edited some sentences for brevity]:

a. Eating candy once a day after dinner is preferable than all day long when bacteria can build up.

b. A high down-payment helps, as does the type of loan sought – a 15-year fixed being more preferable than a 30-year fixed.

[As Alan told us, Mr. Garner also says that the word “more” should be deleted.]

Mr. Garner also advises us to pronounce “preferable” on the first syllable.

Full credit: I have his 1998 edition, which was published by the Oxford University Press. See page 517.


Yes, James, I am for ‘preferable to’, as Alan and Garner say, and as, perhaps, you will say. I present my views and raise my doubts on the basis of what we have been taught and what we have been teaching. When I have such things confirmed, I become more confident of proceeding with them. When I see them corrected, I may accept them (personally) provided the explanation is convincing, but I may not be able to share them with others including students. It is here that I consult Prof Randolph Quirk and go by what he says if it does not interfere with the system on the basis of which questions are set here. Thanks, James.

There is nothing like ‘most preferable’, Fathima. It is just ‘preferable’ as you will have understood from the discussion.

So, only 1. is preferable to the others. I hold this view.

What a ridiculous statement.
Please don’t tell me what I would use!!!

You have taken a remark out of context and had the pomposity to try to tell me what I think.

In its context this:
I would say that using ‘are’ would be far more preferable and common than…
is a perfectly permissible amalgamation of two phrases.
Perhaps you would prefer me to have said
"would be more preferable to and far more common than…’ but English does not work in such a prescriptive way as I’ve explained before.

What an obdurate and ludicrous reply! You refuse to agree with even other native speakers. I conclude my discussion again saying nobody is infallible. Good Night!

Your post was ludicrous. What sort of reply did you expect?

One thing we can agree on - nobody is infallible.