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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Basic level

Comments

Hello swxswx,

As you can see in the entry for it in our dictionary, 'get' has loads of meanings. One of them, 'to become', is the one used here. 'seem' is also in the dictionary, and has to do with how something appears to us. The idea here is that we think the world is changing, but we also are changing - it's also a matter of perception.

The meaning of 'as' used here is the one described under 'while' in the dictionary. Your alternative sentence is not grammatical. If you inserted 'and' between 'higher' and 'the houses', it could be, but the version in the exercise is clearer.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I would deeply appreciate clarification on:
SUBSTANTIVE ADJECTIVE
Q1. Can 'the + comparative/superlative' exist as a substantive adjective?
Examples:
(i) the poorer
(ii) the poorest
(iii) the more beautiful
(iv) the most beautiful

Q2. Besides a class of people, does a substantive adjective refer to a class of things?
Examples:
(a) the underlined
(b) the hard
[If yes and it functions as the subject to a verb, does it attract a singular or plural verb?]

Q3. Can we rightly say that certain substantive adjectives do not denote a class at all?
Example: the reverse is the case.

Thanks enormously.

Hello value4education,

The answer to your first two questions is 'yes'. When used as a subject, the verb can be either singular or plural, depending on the item or items being referred to.

It is possible for substantive superlative adjectives to refer to a class or to one item. 'The reverse' could refer to one thing (the other side of a piece of paper) or to a class (the various designs on the backs of coins in the UK, where one side is always the Queen's profile and 'the reverse' shows various things).

I hope that clarifies it for you. Please note that our role here is to clarify issues related to the material on our pages, not to help users with tests or homework which they have outside of LearnEnglish. Generally, therefore, we do not respond to questions of this type, though I made an exception in this case.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Greetings! I have a question. On one of our exam questions, the answer was intended to be..

"The smoother a ball is, the more air resistance it creates."

However, a student wrote,
"The smoother a ball is, the more it creates air resistance."
Is this second example sentence gramatically incorrect?

Thank you for any help and feedback!

Hello Penguin84,

No, the sentence is not grammatically incorrect. However, this kind of sentence is normally phrased with inversion, as in the first example.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much!

Peter M,

Thank you for your help. I have another question about this topic.

1. The more money she has, the more fruit she can buy.
2. The more money she has, the more she can buy fruit.

Sentence 1 would be the most common way to say this, but does sentence 2 have any grammatical errors? Is the explanation the same as you said above?

Thanks again

Hello Penguin84,

Both sentences are grammatically correct, though, as you suspect and Peter's explanation above confirms, sentence 1 is more common. Please also note that sentence 2 has a slightly different meaning – 'the more' in 'the more she can buy fruit' refers to how often she can buy it than how much she can buy.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

QUESTIONS:
Q1. The co-existence of 'the + adjective' e.g. 'the rich', 'the meek', 'the brave', 'the less fortunate', etc. is known as 'adjective as a noun'. Is its other name 'substantive adjective', 'collective adjective', both of them, or none of them? If it's none of them, kindly give its (other) name besides 'adjective as a noun'.

Q2. Can 'the + comparative degree' also function as 'adjective as a noun'? If yes, is it right to add that this applies only to gradable adjectives?
Examples: the poorer, the richer, the more beautiful, etc.

Q3. Can 'the + superlative degree' act as an 'adjective as a noun'? If yes, is it right to add that this applies only to gradable adjectives?
Examples: the greatest, the best, the richest, the most beautiful, etc.

Q4. Can 'the + nationality adjective' function as 'adjective as a noun'?
Examples: the British, the Chinese, etc.
Example sentence: The British have the most lucrative football league in the world.

Q5. Can 'the + the noun form (= plural) of nationality adjective' serve as 'adjective as a noun'?
Examples: the Nigerians, the Ghanaians, the Americans, the Brazilians, etc.
Example sentence: The Brazilians have great passion for football.

Q6. The co-existence of 'noun + noun', e.g. 'family doctor', 'sports club', 'child soldiers', 'women occupants', etc. has the first noun (= family, sports, child, women) modify the second noun (= doctor, club, soldiers, occupants).
Besides being called 'noun as an adjective', is the first noun (= family, sports, child, women) also called 'attributive noun', 'noun adjunct' or 'noun premodifier'; all of them, or none of them? If it's none of them, please give the (other) structural name(s) of the first noun.

Thanks a lot.

Hello value4education,

You've recently posted some very long and detailed questions such as the ones above. I'm afraid that you seem to have misunderstood our role here. Our primary purpose is to help users with questions and problems they have while using LearnEnglish. Although we occasionally answer other questions, we are simply too small a team with too much work to be able to answer these kinds of comments.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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