'Simpler' or 'More Simple': Which is Correct Usage?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 4, 2022

How do you know whether to say ‘simpler’ or ‘more simple’? That’s something a lot of people struggle with, especially when learning English for the first time. But we’ll cover that in this article.

Want the short answer? ‘Simpler’ is the correct way to say it, but you might still hear people say ‘more simple.’

‘Simpler’ or ‘More Simple’ – Which One is Correct?

As we just learned, the correct one is ‘simpler.’ It’s incorrect to use the term ‘more simple,’ even though people still do.

But if you want to be correct, you should say ‘simpler.’ Just like you wouldn’t say ‘at the weekend,’ but ‘on the weekend’ or ‘other than’ instead of ‘other then.’

Definition and Meaning

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘simple’ is “free from guile: innocent,” “free from ostentation or display,” “of humble origin or modest position,” “lacking in knowledge or expertise,” “lacking in intelligence,” and “not socially or culturally sophisticated: naïve.”

It’s also defined as “sheer, unmixed,” “free of secondary complications,” “having only one main clause and no subordinate clauses,” “having no modifiers, complements, or objects,” “constituting a basic element: fundamental,” “not made up of many like units,” “free from elaboration or figuration,” “not limited or restricted: unconditional,” “readily understood or performed,” and “not subdivided into branches or leaflets.”

Other sets of definitions include: “a person of humble birth: commoner,” “a rude or credulous person: ignoramus,” “a medicinal plant,” and “one component of a complex.”

The Cambridge definition is “easy to understand or do; not difficult,” “used to describe the one important fact, truth, etc.,” and “without decoration; plain.”

Synonyms for the word include:

  • Bald
  • Bare
  • Naked
  • Plain
  • Plain-Vanilla
  • Unadorned
  • Undecorated
  • Unembellished
  • Unornamented
  • Unvarnished

Superlative of ‘Simple’

If you’re trying to say something is ‘simpler,’ you might be wondering how to make the superlative of ‘simple.’

A superlative adjective is a word that compares a noun to another noun in the upper or lower limit of a quality (i.e., smallest, tallest, fastest, slowest, etc.).

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Small > Smaller > Smallest
  • Tall > Taller > Tallest
  • Fast > Faster > Fastest
  • Slow > Slower > Slowest

The superlative of ‘simple’ is illustrated below.

  • Simple > Simpler > Simplest

That means the superlative of ‘simple’ is ‘simplest.’

How to Use ‘Simpler’ in a Sentence Correctly 

Now that you know the definition and the superlative form of ‘simple/simpler,’ we can talk about how to use it in a sentence correctly.

Here’s a look at how to use ‘simpler’ in a sentence the right way:

  • Back in the 1800s, we lived a simpler life.
  • Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie definitely learned a lot about living simpler lives on The Simple Life reality show.
  • People are often happier with the simpler things in life rather than all that materialistic crap.
  • Math seemed a lot simpler back when I was in school.

Concluding Thoughts on ‘Simpler’ 

To recap, ‘simpler’ is the correct usage. To remember that, try to think about the fact that it’s the ‘simpler’ version of the term that’s correct. It’s simpler to write ‘simpler’ than it is to write ‘more simple,’ so hopefully, that’ll help you remember.

Now, if you struggle with terms that aren’t so simple to remember, such as whether to say ‘relate to’ or ‘relate with,’ ‘in the summer’ or in ‘summer,’ or whether it’s ‘associated to’ or ‘associated with,’ we’ve got you covered. Our extensive library of confusing words can help answer any questions that might arise while you’re learning English.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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