Most adjectives have three forms or degrees: the positive, the comparative, and the superlative. In this discussion, we’ll take a closer look at comparative adjectives.
A comparative adjective compares two items by modifying the adjective with -er, more, or less.
Base adjective: fast
Comparative adjective between two items: faster
Comparative adjective applied: David is a faster runner than Richard.
It’s important to note the distinction that comparative adjectives involve only two items. If we are attributing a foremost quality to one of more than two items, we would use a superlative adjective: Among David, Richard, and Tony, David is the fastest (not faster) runner.
Comparative Adjectives: Nuances
Comparative adjectives include a couple of nuances to note.
One is that when we are using a comparative adjective to compare two things, one or both of the compared things may be a group.
The Pacific Ocean is larger than all other oceans.
We are talking about multiple oceans, but the comparison is still one thing with another.
Another nuance concerns a comparison such as the following:
Taylor is smarter than any student at the school.
In this context, one could infer that Taylor is not a student at the school; rather, Taylor could be outside of the school and smarter than the students who attend it.
By adding the word other, we imply that Taylor is among the students at the school:
Taylor is smarter than any other student at the school.
Forming Comparative Adjectives: Short
As we’ve mentioned, comparative adjectives are made by modifying them with –er, more, or less. Short adjectives either of one syllable or of two syllables ending in y typically form the comparative degree by adding -er.
If the short adjective ends in the letter e, we simply add the letter r to form -er; we do not add -er to the existing final e. For adjectives of two syllables ending in y, we replace the y with -ier.
|Short: One syllable||Short: Two syllables ending in y|
|large||larger (not largeer)||dusty||dustier|
In some cases, the comparative form of short adjectives requires us to double the final consonant of the base adjective: big/bigger, hot/hotter, fit/fitter.
Forming Comparative Adjectives: Long
With some exceptions, longer adjectives for comparative purposes are generally classified as those with three or more syllables or those with two syllables that do not end in y. We form the comparative by pairing the adjective with more or less.
|Adjective||Comparison more||Comparison less|
|relaxed||more relaxed||less relaxed|
|expensive||more expensive||less expensive|
|challenging||more challenging||less challenging|
Forming Comparative Adjectives: Irregular
Comparative adjectives also include those that change form from the base word. The following are several examples of irregular comparative adjectives.
|Base adjective||Irregular comparative|
Comparative Adjectives: Both Forms
Some comparative adjectives can both take the -er form and be part of a more or less construction.
|Adjective||Comparison -er||Comparison more||Comparison less|
|clever||cleverer||more clever||less clever|
|simple||simpler||more simple||less simple|
Adjectives and Adverbs: Forms for Comparison
Using what you know about comparative adjectives, convert each adjective in parentheses into its proper comparative form. For comparative adjectives paired with more or less, you can choose either modifier.
1. Thomas is (funny) than Robin.
2. Lizette is (intelligent) than Marissa.
3. The stitching of this quilt is (elaborate) than that one.
4. These flowers make me (happy) than those.
5. The critics have said that the movie sequel is (bad) than the original film.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. Thomas is funnier than Robin.
2. Lizette is more intelligent (or less intelligent) than Marissa.
3. The stitching of this quilt is more elaborate (or less elaborate) than that one.
4. These flowers make me happier than those.
5. The critics have said that the movie sequel is worse than the original film.
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