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Comparative and superlative adjectives

Level: beginner

Comparative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives to show change or make comparisons:

This car is certainly better, but it's much more expensive.
I'm feeling happier now.
We need a bigger garden.

We use than when we want to compare one thing with another:

She is two years older than me.
New York is much bigger than Boston.
He is a better player than Ronaldo.
France is a bigger country than Britain.

When we want to describe how something or someone changes we can use two comparatives with and:

The balloon got bigger and bigger.
Everything is getting more and more expensive.
Grandfather is looking older and older

We often use the with comparative adjectives to show that one thing depends on another:

The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is. 
(= When you drive faster, it is more dangerous.)

The higher they climbed, the colder it got. 
(= When they climbed higher, it got colder.)

Comparative adjectives 1

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Comparative adjectives 2

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Superlative adjectives

We use the with superlative adjectives:

It was the happiest day of my life.
Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
That’s the best film I have seen this year.
I have three sisters: Jan is the oldest and Angela is the youngest

Superlative adjectives 1

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Superlative adjectives 2

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How to form comparative and superlative adjectives

We usually add –er and –est to one-syllable words to make comparatives and superlatives:

old older oldest
long longer longest

If an adjective ends in –e, we add –r or –st:

nice nicer nicest
large larger largest

If an adjective ends in a vowel and a consonant, we double the consonant:

big bigger biggest
fat fatter fattest

If an adjective ends in a consonant and –y, we change –y to –i and add –er or –est:

happy happier happiest
silly sillier silliest

We use more and most to make comparatives and superlatives for most two syllable adjectives and for all adjectives with three or more syllables:

careful more careful  most careful
interesting more interesting  most interesting

However, with these common two-syllable adjectives, you can either add –er/–r and –est/–st or use more and most:

common
cruel
gentle
handsome
likely
narrow
pleasant
polite
simple
stupid

He is certainly handsomer than his brother.
His brother is handsome, but he is more handsome.
She is one of the politest people I have ever met.
She is the most polite person I have ever met.

The adjectives good, bad and far have irregular comparatives and superlatives:

good better best
bad worse worst
far farther/further  farthest/furthest
How to form comparative and superlative adjectives

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Comments

Hello Nevı,

Yes, I'd say it's a reduced relative clause, the full form being something like 'experiences [that are] related to reopening schools'.

Good work!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks teacher. I want to ask one more thing. Can we say these two sentences have the same meaning?

1)Australian resident travelling to New Zealand.
2)Australian resident who travelled to New Zealand

Best wishes. Thanks a lot.

Hello Nevi,

These are clauses but are not complete sentences. Without knowing the full context in which they are used we can't say if they have the same or different meanings.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there!
I have a question regarding the comparative form of common, I have always heard and read "more common" but according to the info above it mentions that commoner can be used, too. Can you explain to me a little bit deeper about this, please? Thanks.

Hello mc2bav4,

Some 2-syllable words have preferred forms, so we say 'heavier' rather than 'more heavy', for example. However, there is often a choice. You can say 'commoner' or 'more common', just as both 'cleverer' and 'more clever' and both 'prettier' and 'more pretty' are correct.

 

I'm afraid there's no rule for this. It's just a case of recognising which forms are common and which are not.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Much appreciated, Peter. I think it's just a matter of getting accustomed to these variations and continue reading trustful resources as newspapers, books from good presses and other media. Also, do you have any other recommendations to know how to recognize which forms are common? Thanks, again.
P.D. I didn't know that I could use 'more' with these adjectives. All my life I thought it was just as plain as heavier or prettier.

Hello again mc2bav4,

It's possible to do searches in online corpora to find the relative frequency of different words or phrases, but for most you need to register and sometimes subscribe (pay). I think the best approach is exactly what you are doing: expose yourself to as much authentic language as you can through reading, listening and watching, and you'll pick up natural usage as you go.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks again Peter. It was extremely rich speaking with you and clearing those doubts. I'm already taking a look into the site you suggested to me. Still I'll do as I have been doing so far, plus your recommendations. If any other doubt comes in, I'll reach you guys.

Hi team,I don't understand one thing about modifying comparisons.

My book says
'you can use a lot/far/much/miles + comparatives'
for instance 'Tea is a lot healthier than coffee.'

I don't understand I can also use
-far healthier/much healthier/a lot healthier/miles healthier.

I mean can I use all of them for one adjective, such as 'far more expensive/much more expensive/miles more expensive/a lot more expensive?

Thanks a lot.

Hi Nevı,

Yes! That's right. You can use any of these words before the adjective. They all have the same meaning. But, in style, miles is informal.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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