Comparative and superlative adverbs

Comparative adverbs

Level: beginner

We can use comparative adverbs to show change or make comparisons:

I forget things more often nowadays.
She began to speak more quickly.
They are working harder now.

We often use than with comparative adverbs:

I forget things more often than I used to.
Girls usually work harder than boys.

Level: intermediate

We use these words and phrases as intensifiers with comparatives:

much far a lot quite a lot
a great deal a good deal a good bit a fair bit

I forget things much more often nowadays.

We use these words and phrases as mitigators:

a bit  slightly rather
a little a little bit just a little bit

She began to speak a bit more quickly.

Level: beginner

Superlative adverbs

We can use superlative adverbs to make comparisons:

His ankles hurt badly, but his knees hurt worst.
It rains most often at the beginning of the year.

Level: intermediate

We use these words and phrases as intensifiers with superlatives:

easily by far much

When we intensify a superlative adverb, we often put the in front of the adverb:

In our office, Jill works by far the hardest.
Of the three brothers, Brian easily runs the fastest.

Level: beginner

How to form comparative and superlative adverbs

We make comparative and superlative adverbs using the same rules as for comparative and superlative adjectives. For example:

One syllable: Jill works fast. > faster > fastest
One syllable ending in –e: They arrived late. > later > latest
Two or more syllables: Alan finished the test quickly. > more quickly > most quickly
well: She speaks English well. > better > best
badly: She speaks German badly. > worse > worst
far: He'll go far. > farther/further > farthest/furthest
Comparative adverbs 1

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Comparative adverbs 2

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Superlative adverbs 1

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Superlative adverbs 2

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Submitted by aaaaaaaaa on Tue, 20/02/2024 - 21:20

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For easily is it easier or more easily and the same for closely, early and simply. And does "more often" always require than after it. I can't understand it really well.

Hello aaaaaaaaa,

Yes, you're right about the adverbs with alternative forms.

'More often' usually needs 'that' after it but sometimes we miss it out when we are referring to something just said. For example:

I go to the gym once a week.

Really? I go more often (than that).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team, thank you very much. So I can use both easier and more easily for the comparative form of easily, right?

Hello aaaaaaaaa,

'easier' is the comparative form of the adjective 'easy'. 'easily' is the proper adverb form and its comparative is 'more easily'.

But in informal speaking people also use 'easy' and 'easier' as adverbs.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Tue, 12/09/2023 - 10:42

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Hello Team. Could you please help me? What is the difference between "other than" and "rather than"? In the following sentence, which one is correct?
- To reduce traffic, people are persuaded to use public transport.........than driving.
(rather - other)
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'other than' basically means 'except for' and 'rather than' basically means 'instead of'. So 'other than' highlights something compared to other things, whereas 'rather than' is used to speak about an option or something that was not chosen or pursued.

In this case, there are two options (using public transport or driving) and so 'rather' is the correct word to use here.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by User_1 on Tue, 29/08/2023 - 15:28

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Hello,
I would ask for something more about "neither" as an adverb.
I know it is used to show a common negative statement among different parts, but I struggle with the forms "Me neither" or "neither do I".
It is not easy to remember the structure.
Do you have any advice to help me become familiar with this expression?
Thank you

Hello User_1,

These forms, like related forms such as 'Me too' and 'So do I' are used when agreeing or disagreeing with someone else's position. The best way to fix them in your memory is to use them, of course. You can do this quite easily whenever you are listening to or watching something in which people express points of view, such as discussion shows, interviews, political meetings etc. Whatever language is being used, you can 'participate' as you watch or listen by responding in English and arguing with or against the people speaking. It can be a great way to practise phrases like this and also phrases for justifying, explaining, giving examples etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by lien.t on Wed, 24/05/2023 - 09:03

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Dear teachers,
I cannot find out more sentences with "much" with "superlative adverbs", can you please give more examples ? thank you so much!

Hi lien.t,

Here are some examples.

  • Many firms have entered the market recently, but company X has grown much the fastest.
  • Of all the stars in the night sky, Sirius shines much the brightest.

To add extra emphasis, you can also add "very" before "much".

However, this is not a very commonly used structure overall. It's much more common to use "by far", "definitely" or some other word/phrase instead of "much".

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by User_1 on Sat, 01/04/2023 - 15:03

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Hello,
as for the expression "the more"
Come rain or shine, I try to practice English since the more I work out, the more I become familiar with it.
Does that make sense?
Although it is not easy to accept mistakes along the way.
Please, could I get feedback from the team?
Thanks

Hi User_1,

Yes, it does make sense! The phrase "the more ... the more ..." is used correctly :)

If I may make suggest, my preferred word order would be I try to practise English come rain or shine, since ... . I think that is a bit more natural-sounding, though your sentence is correct as well. Also, "practise" as a verb is usually spelled with an "s" in British English (instead of "practice" with a "c", which is a noun), and "work out" normally refers to physical exercise (e.g. in the gym) rather than learning exercises, so I suggest changing to the more work I do, the more I become familiar ... .

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Hi Jonathan,
Thanks for your exhaustive explanation, for the suggestions on the word order and the suitable verb.
I have asked for the team feedback on my sentence in the Learning Hub session as my reply for the request "Which is your favourite idiom?"
I am sorry about that.

Submitted by Iryna_hn on Wed, 29/03/2023 - 14:02

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Hello, dear experts!
could you, please, explain it to me why to say "I live nearest to the station", "I most often buy books online", "You can contact me most easily by email" - no THE, but "...finished the race by far THE fastest", "Kate did much THE worst of all students" and "my team easily played THE best" - with THE?

Hello Iryna_hn,

This is a question with some simple pointers and then a lot of very complex particular examples.

The first thing to note is that superlatives can be adjectival (describing nouns) or adverbial (describing verbs). This affects the use of the article. 

 

When used as adjectives, the simplest thing to remember is that we always use 'the' when a noun follows the superlative:

Thus we must say

He is the tallest boy in the class.

but we can say either

He is the tallest.

or

He is tallest.

We also use 'the' when we are talking about a limited/specified group:

She is the best in the class.

 

With adverbial use it is normal and correct to omit 'the', but there are some caveats. I'll link to some useful discussions on the topic which will give you some more information and examples, and also show you how this is a topic without a clear and simple answer!

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/107741/superlative-and-definite-article-the

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/30272/superlatives-with-the/30276#30276

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by c0chito on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 23:31

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I think is better to be more specific with this important rule: "With adverbs ending in -ly, you must use more to form the comparative, and most to form the superlative."
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Tue, 14/07/2020 - 23:01

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This tip is an educative one.

Submitted by itspb008 on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 12:00

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Can you give order of the adverbs like how two or three different adverbials goes in a sentence with example?

Hello ltspb008

There's so much variation with this that it's difficult to make general statements other than that adverbs that modify other adverbials tend to go before the form they modify.

One other is that adverbials of place tend to come before adverbials of time when both come after the verb (e.g. 'We went to the beach every day' is more natural than 'We went every day to the beach').

If you had a specific sentence or adverbial in mind, please let us know.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Moroccish on Sun, 05/01/2020 - 13:53

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Hi Kirk, Some of my colleagues disagreed about the the right tense to use (future simple or perfect) in the the following sentence: Jamal is preparing for the reading competition which (take place)................. in three months' time. Their answer was future perfect, for, they argued, there is the expression "in three months' time", which we use with future perfect. My answer is future simple (will take place). What do you think? Thank you in advance.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 07:30

In reply to by Moroccish

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Hi Moroccish,

Of the two options, will take place is the more likely choice, in my view, but both are grammatically possible.

 

The future perfect form is used when looking back from a time further in the future. Most often, this is done with a by-phrase:

The competition will have taken place by the summer. [= at some point before the summer]

It is possible to use a time phrase beginning with in, but the point of view should be from a time further in the future. Thus you could say this if you are imagining yourself looking back from, say, the autumn:

The competition will have taken place in the summer. [= looking back from the autumn]

A phrase like in three months' time can suggest a concrete time, rather than a point before which something happens, so we would usually add an adverb to avoid ambiguity:

The competition will have already taken place in three months' time. [= Three months from now, the competition will be over and done]

 

Other forms are possible, of course: is to take place, takes place etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mtoker on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 14:49

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Hi. Which usage is correct? The actors were dressed beautiful. or The actors were dressed beautifully.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 08/10/2019 - 06:25

In reply to by mtoker

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Hello mtoker

I probably wouldn't use either form, to be honest, but if I had to choose one I'd say 'beautifully', which is an adverbial and refers to the way the actors were dressed. I'd also say 'beautifully dressed' instead of 'dressed beautifully'. But really I would probably avoid it altogether by saying something like 'The actors' costumes were beautiful'.

All the best

Kirk

The Learn English Team

Hi Kirk
Why would you avoid either form?
Non-native, ESL teacher here and curious about your usage perspective as a native speaker.
Thanks

Hello Suryabound9,

'The actors were dressed beautiful' is not grammatically correct.

'The actors were beautifully dressed' is grammatically correct and would be fine if it's about some actors who aren't playing roles; for example, if they've gone to the Oscars and the speaker is impressed by their clothes, this sentence would be fine. I'd probably use some expression (e.g. 'to be dressed to the nines'), but this sentence is perfectly fine.

Does that help?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team