Quicker or More Quickly?

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Should I say "quicker" or "more quickly"?

"Quicker" and "more quickly" are both acceptable comparative forms of the adverb "quickly." However, as some of your grammar-savvy readers might think "quicker" is an error or too informal, you should opt for "more quickly" (unless your writing would really benefit from the flow of text offered by "quicker").

It is a common misconception that "quicker" has only recently passed into English as an adverb through common usage and ignorance of the difference between adverbs and adjectives. Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, "quicker" (as an adverb) was more common than "more quickly." Only since the 1970s has "more quickly" overtaken "quicker."
quicker or more quickly

Quick and Quicker

"Quick" is an adjective meaning rapid. The comparative form of "quick" is "quicker." For example:
  • Janet is a quick learner, but John is a quicker learner.
  • (Here, the adjective "quick" modifies the noun "learner," and the comparative adjective "quicker" modifies the noun "learner." Both words are adjectives.)
Read more about the comparative forms of adjectives.

More Quickly and Quicker

"Quickly" is an adverb meaning rapidly. It has two comparative forms, "more quickly" and "quicker." For example:
  • Janet learns quickly, but John learns more quickly.
  • (Here, the adverb "quickly" modifies the verb "learns," and the comparative adverb "more quickly" modifies the verb "learns." Both words are adverbs.)
  • Janet learns quickly, but John learns quicker.
  • (This time, the comparative adverb "quicker" modifies the verb "learns." This is equally acceptable.)
According to Google's Ngram viewer, the use of "quicker" has only recently (in the 1970s) dropped below the use of "more quickly" in books, indicating that "quicker" has long been in use as an adverb in written work. Nevertheless, the use of "quicker" is often considered a mistake because it does not fit the usual pattern for forming adverbs.
AdverbComparative Form of the Adverb
quicklymore quickly AND quicker
rapidlymore rapidly AND rapider ("Rapider" is not a word.)
happilymore happily AND happier ("Happier" cannot be used as an adverb.)

Read more about the comparative forms of adverbs.

"Quicker" Has Been an Adverb for Centuries

A number of sources suggest that "quicker" has crossed into English as an adverb because it is easier to say than "more quickly" and due to a recently developed ignorance of the difference between adjectives and adverbs. However, this does not appear to be the case. In the early 1800s, "quicker" was nearly three times more common than "more quickly," strongly suggesting it has long been in use as an adverb.

For Safety, Opt for "More Quickly"

Even though you will be able to make a strong case for "quicker" being a genuine comparative adverb, a fair proportion of your readers are likely to consider it an error or too informal.

Therefore, it makes sense to use "more quickly" for your comparative adverb because no one will consider it wrong or overly informal.

However, if you need to use "quicker" to achieve a desired flow of text, then go for it, and fight like a dog if anyone contests it. For example:
  • The quicker it ends, the better it will be.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Using AD, BC, BCE and CE Full stops (periods) in contractions Forming the plurals of abbreviations Using full stops (periods) in abbreviations