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M. Palacios
It could be worse. No, it can't get any worse than this! Hello, I am a native English speaker. I know it is correct to say: This is the worst meal or thing ever! (Meaning that, in the superlative form, it is of the highest extreme of that poor quality or condition.) But I did a thought experiment: Say, "Two people are trapped in a burning building, a couple. They can see the flames coming at 'em. A: It can't get any worse for us! B: No, I really think it can get worse. So, here's the problem: Why not say "It can't get any worst for us!" I know that's wrong, but I'm not sure why. I can accept that worse is for making comparisons, but hasn't speaker "A" indicated that this is the most extreme situation, already? And not inviting a comparison. I'd just like to hear your thoughts. No, cheeky answers, please. (Word of warning: To those of you who might think "worst" is correct; do some research first, I think you will find that not to be the case.)
Oct 26, 2016 1:05 PM
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Answers · 4
Just to mix things up... why not "It can get any worser for us"
October 26, 2016
You're correct in that "It can't get any worst" is wrong. Here is why... IF there were a situation that were worse than this one, it would be 'worse' than this. Whenever we are comparing two situations, even if hypothetical, we need to use the comparative rather than the superlative. The use of "any + comparative" is talking about degrees of difference. For example: "Does she sing any better [than she did last year]?" "No, she still sings terribly". What isn't said in the above is this "It can't get any worse for us [than it already is]". In other words, the 'than' still exists, it's just unspoken and assumed. However, you could say: "This is the worst possible situation". It is a statement of why it is #1 in terms of 'badness', rather than a comparison with anything.
October 26, 2016
M. Palacios
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language