Modifying comparisons

Do you know how to use phrases like much shorter than, almost as fit as and exactly the same as?

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

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

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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

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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

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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!!!
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 06/04/2021 - 14:42

In reply to by Natasa Tanasa

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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.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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

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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.

Hi lima9795,

Well spotted! Yes, this form is sometimes used, especially in speaking. I think the (as) ... as structure is usually at the head of a phrase, for example your sentence 2, or Give me the phone, quick as you can

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your response Yes i have seen in spoken english (informal situations) So , what do you mean exactly by this structure is only used at the head of phrase ? Could you please elaborate !! is it ok to say these sentences in the following way !! 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.

Hi lima9795,

I mean that (I think) dropping the first as usually happens at the start of a phrase (not in the middle or at the end of a phrase). Your sentence 2 and my sentence above (quick as you can) are examples of this.

In your sentences 1 and 3, the as ... as structure is not at the start of a phrase, so they are less likely to be used. In sentence 1, it's inside a verb phrase which starts with is. In sentence 3, it's inside an adverb phrase which starts with nowhere near.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by lima9795 on Tue, 11/08/2020 - 00:33

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They are not as much as cool as you guys are...OR They are not cool as much as you guys are which one is correct ? Are both wrong then how to quantify as....as expressions?

Hello lima9795,

Neither of those are correct. You could say the following:

They are not nearly as cool as you guys.

They are nowhere near as cool as you guys.

They are nothing like as cool as you guys.

They are far from being as cool as you guys.

The final 'are' can be added but it's more natural to omit it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saamongo on Sun, 26/07/2020 - 11:05

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Very helpful tests but i find them a little more difficult for the level of our teenagers.

Submitted by Papis on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 10:49

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Hello, it's really helpful understanding the structures of different ways of comparison.

Submitted by Allate on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 00:12

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It is always good to learn new things, doing these exercises I discovered a new expression,"nowhere near". As teachers we keep on learning new things everyday and it is fantastic!

Submitted by Umoh Margaret on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 12:35

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Please sir, when use 'more or less' with the same as to compare two things as in this sentence: The figures for May are more or less the same as the figures for June. What is the meaning of this sentence?
Hi Umoh Margaret, It means 'almost the same' or 'about the same'. You can say 'more or less the same' to show that the two things are almost the same, but not exactly. Best wishes, Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team
Thanks so much, Sir. It's now understood. Best regards, Sir.
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Submitted by Karan Narang on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 04:19

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Even though I could not have done this test well as I did as yesterday but until I can understand this I will still learn for completely understand these things.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 03:13

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It's very helpful.

Submitted by Bharati on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 08:00

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Hello, May i seek the clarification In the example"He is taller than Tim but shorter than Jack" Is this a simple sentence where "than" is a preposition or a Compound-Complex sentence having two co-ordinate clauses and two subordinate clauses since "than" a subordinating conjunction is used twice in the sentence . Thanks
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Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 14:20

In reply to by Bharati

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Hello Bharati

Our primary purpose here in the comments is to help our users with the content presented on our pages. I realise that here you are trying to better understand sentence structure, and it's true that we have helped you and many other users with these sorts of queries in the past, but I'm afraid we have are less and less able to provide this kind of private instruction.

You might want to consider English Online, an online teacher-led course, or a one-to-one tutoring session.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bharati on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 16:58

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Hello, In the example"He is taller than Tim but shorter than Jack" Is this a simple sentence where "than" is a preposition or a Compound-Complex sentence having two co-ordinate clauses and two subordinate clauses since "than" a subordinating conjunction is used twice in the sentence . Thanks