Modifying comparisons

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.

Comparing

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

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Submitted by thebaongoc on Tue, 20/09/2022 - 16:10

Permalink

In this sentence:' Of my parents, my father is THE STRICTER or STRICTER. What is the best answer? Can you explain? Thank you.

Hello thebaongoc,

The best is 'stricter'. We generally use 'the' with superlative forms, which compare not just two people, but many. If you follow the link, I think the explanation on that page should make it clear for you. But if not, please don't hesitate to ask us again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tuan_Nguyen on Tue, 02/08/2022 - 02:57

Permalink

I think I am bad at this because I just 4 out of 8

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

Permalink

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

Permalink

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.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

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

Permalink
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