Modifying comparatives

Modifying comparatives

Do you know how to use phrases like much shorter than, almost as fit as and exactly the same as? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how comparisons can be modified.

He's much shorter than his brother.
Good-quality socks are almost as important as your running shoes.
Our hotel room was exactly the same as the photos showed.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: Modifying comparisons: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

There are several different ways to compare things in English. We can also modify comparisons to show big or small differences.


We can use comparative adjectives to compare different things.

Max is taller than Judy.
You're more patient than I am.
His first book is less interesting than his second.

We can use as … as with an adjective to say that two things are the same, or not as … as to say that one thing is less than another. 

Her hair is as long as mine.
It's not as sunny as yesterday.

We can also use expressions like different from, similar to and the same as.

England is different from the United Kingdom.
His car is similar to mine.
The results from the first test are the same as the results from the second.

Showing big differences

We can use much, so much, a lot, even or far with comparative adjectives.

Sales in July were a lot higher than sales in June.
He was far less experienced than the other applicant.

We can use nowhere near with as … as.

The interview was nowhere near as difficult as the written exam.

We can use very, really, completely or totally with different from.

They may be twins, but they're completely different from each other.

Showing small differences

We can use slightly, a little, a bit, a little bit or not much with comparative adjectives.

The number of registrations has been slightly lower than we expected.
Houses in my city are not much more expensive than flats.

We can use almost, nearly, not quite, roughly, more or less or about with as … as and the same as.

She's almost as old as I am.
The figures for May are more or less the same as the figures for June.

We can use very or really with similar to.

My son looks really similar to my father when he was that age.

Showing there is no difference

We can use exactly the same as or just as … as to emphasise that there is no difference.

My grandma's cakes still taste exactly the same as when I was a child!
A new phone can be just as expensive as a new computer these days.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: Modifying comparisons: 2

Language level

Average: 4.6 (27 votes)

Submitted by phanquoclam on Sat, 11/06/2022 - 16:45


Dear everyone, I wonder whether my sentence below is grammatically correct or not, "School A showed a higher percentage of pupils facing educational problems than school B did". Thanks for your help.

Hello phanquoclam,

Yes, that looks good to me -- well done!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Studente on Thu, 06/01/2022 - 10:27


I hope I'm not off topic but I can't find the answer anywhere.
Why is it correct to say 'I've just moved to a new town and now I have MUCH FEWER friends.' and not 'MANY fewer friends.' even if FRIENDS is a countable noun?
I do understand that MUCH modifies FEWER and not the countable noun FRIENDS, but then why does countable/uncountable matter in sentences such as
I've got MUCH more TIME.
I've got MANY more FRIENDS.

I can't say 'I've got MUCH more FRIENDS' but why must I say 'I've got MUCH fewer friends?'

Thank you

Hi Studente,

It's a good question. In my opinion it is ambiguous, and both ‘much fewer friends’ and ‘many fewer friends’ are acceptable.

I would like to try to explain why ‘MUCH fewer friends’ seems to break the countable/uncountable rules, which you correctly pointed out. Here are two things to consider:
1. ‘Fewer’ is the comparative form of an adjective (‘few’ + ‘er’). ‘More’ is not.
2. MUCH is used to modify comparative adjectives (e.g. much nicer, much slower). ‘Many’ is not.

Since it is extremely common to modify ‘fewer’ (and other comparative adjectives) with MUCH in other constructions (e.g. 'My car goes much slower than yours'), speakers might make constructions such as ‘MUCH FEWER friends’ - even though countable/uncountable rules suggest that ‘MANY fewer friends’ is actually correct. The two grammatical constructions conflict at the moment of speaking, which makes it ambiguous which one is correct.

I think the key point here is that what we say is not based on grammaticality alone. Grammar is a part of it, but we also use our resource of common and established phrases, even sometimes breaking grammatical rules by doing so.

I hope that helps.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sat, 07/08/2021 - 06:38

Hello, thank you for the lesson. I understood everything. Having said that, I have a question: How can I used the modifier "rather"? ( It is not in the lesson) Thank you so much

Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Tue, 06/04/2021 - 11:43

Dear all, Could anyone explain to me the difference between A LOT OF and LOTS OF? I am not sure when I should use a lot of or lots of. Thank you soooo much in advance!!! 3
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 06/04/2021 - 14:42

In reply to by Natasa Tanasa


Hi Natasa Tanasa,

Good question! Actually, they are pretty similar. They mean the same thing, and are both relatively informal in style. They can both be used with uncountable or plural nouns. 

A lot of is used more often than lots of, but even so, they're both very common.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by polina1526 on Mon, 02/11/2020 - 19:10

Learning this rule can be useful for students in Russia who chose to write English Unified State Exam. In this exam one needs to compose quite a large essay on a given topic and this part requires to express two completely different points of view. The great difference between these points can be shown by using modifying comparisons which are easily understandable thanks to this article.

Submitted by lima9795 on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 00:42

i have heard the usage on youtube/in movies long as , soon as (contrary to as soon as , as long as) does this rule apply to other adjectives too Ex: (quick as instead of as quick as , difficult as ...etc So are these below examples correct informally? 1)Her hair is long as mine. 2)Soon as i see something cooking, i can't wait to eat it 3)The interview was nowhere near difficult as the written exam.