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

Matching_MTQxNzI=.

Comparative adjectives 2

GapFillTyping_MTQxNzM=

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

MultipleChoice_MTk4Njg=

Superlative adjectives 2

GapFillTyping_MTQxNzU=

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

GapFillTyping_MTQyMzc=

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

M Ebrahim 提交于 周三, 13/01/2016 - 05:42

永久连接
Hi Dear Sir, I faced with some sentences in Azar blue regarding comparison of adjectives that I am not sure about even it is true or false. I am waiting to here from you even these are true of false: the example is: 10. I don't like to work hard, but my sister does. I'm a lot lazier than my sister. here first used alot then used lazier. is it right?

Hello M Ebrahim,

Yes, that sentence is fine. 'A lot' here is a modifier to make the comparative adjective 'lazier' stronger.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Antonina M 提交于 周四, 24/12/2015 - 15:55

永久连接
Sorry, but your exercises are half hidden. :(

Hello Antonina M,

Thanks for telling us. We just made a major update to our site a few days ago, and this is one of the bugs that we are working on. We'll get it fixed as soon as we can – sorry for the inconvenience!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Kelsie_29 提交于 周四, 17/12/2015 - 09:24

永久连接
Hello, Is the following sentence correct ? No other star is so bright as the Sun. Thanks

Hello Kelsie_29,

Yes, that is correct, though 'as bright as' is more common in modern English.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Kelsie_29 提交于 周二, 15/12/2015 - 15:19

永久连接
Hello, I have a question regarding an example which I saw in a book which is as follows - The Shanghai Maglev has broken the record speed of all the other trains. Is a comparison being made in the above statement? Thanks, Kelsie

Hi Kelsie,

There's an implicit comparison in that statement, for if this train has broken the speed record, then it is faster than all other trains (or 'the fastest train').

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

some difficulties 提交于 周六, 03/10/2015 - 08:12

永久连接
Hello sir I have used all grammer rules about adjectives successfully, but I find some difficulties with counting the syllables how I could do it ? with pronounce or counting vowels I make some mistakes. thanks ...

some difficulties 提交于 周六, 03/10/2015 - 08:10

永久连接
Hello sir I have used all grammer rules about adjectives successfully, but I find some difficulties with counting the syllables how I can do it ? with pronounce or counting vowels I make some mistakes. thanks ...

Hello some difficulties,

English pronunciation is notoriously inconsistent in many ways and it can be difficult to identify the number of syllables in an unknown word. For example, 'chocolate' looks like it should have three syllables, but it has two in most dialects. Practice is the key: the more familiar you become with the patterns of pronunciation, the better you will be able to assess the likely pronunciation of new items. To check to see if you were right, or to find the right number of syllables, use a dictionary. If you use the online dictionary on these pages (on the right) then you will be able to not only see the phonemic script of each word but also hear it pronounced in both British and American dialects.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Nandishchandra 提交于 周二, 08/09/2015 - 19:55

永久连接
Hi Team, This is regarding comparative and superlative degrees. In spoken english,can we use comparative degree as below, Example is,It is very longer run than run of august.. Instead i say it is very longer run...Does this make sense? Thanks.. Regards, Nandish...

Hello Nandish,

I'm afraid that is not standard English; I find it difficult to understand. For more on comparative forms, please search for 'comparative' using our Search box on the upper right. There are several pages that could be useful to you.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Darshan Sheth 提交于 周五, 04/09/2015 - 16:53

永久连接
Hello sir, Thanks for all the solutions. I just came across a sentence: "Hardly did the men start training than they were sent into battle." I found it grammatically incorrect because some authorities state that we cannot use "than" after "hardly", instead we use "when". Also, we cannot use "did/does/do" and have to use "had/has/have" with "hardly". what is your opinion? are these rules correct? but why? can we ever use future tense in these type of sentences and how?

Hello Darshan Sheth,

It is often possible to choose between the past simple and the past perfect in sentences with two actions in the past. This is because both can be used to show actions which occur in a sequence. The difference is that the past perfect also suggests some connection between the two actions: one causes the other, or influences the other in some way. Thus both of these are possible:

Hardly did the men start training than they were sent into battle.

Hardly had the men started training than they were sent into battle.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, But why 'than' because we are not comparing two things else there would have been a comparative adjective? also as per your reply that past perfect also shows some connection between the two actions, when shall we use 'when' in such sentences - after simple past or past perfect?

Hello Darshan Smith,

'Than' is correct in these sentences; it can also be used with comparative adjectives, but that is a different use.

'When' can be used with both past simple + past simple and past simple + past perfect.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

raj.kumar123 提交于 周二, 18/08/2015 - 02:25

永久连接
I feel closer to her than him. Or, I feel closer to her than to him. Is 'to' after 'than' optional?

Hello raj.kumar123,

Both of those are fine. The 'to' can be omitted in the sentence, as you say.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Darshan Sheth 提交于 周五, 07/08/2015 - 06:05

永久连接
Hello sir, Sometimes we use "He is the taller of the two." and sometimes "He is the tallest of the two." Why? And how will we use: "The taller/tallest of the two (brothers) is very good."

Hello Darshan Sheth,

This is an example of the language changing over time. It used to be the case that using the superlative (e.g. 'the tallest') was incorrect if talk about two items. However, this is changing. Many people no say 'the tallest of the two'. To me, personally, it still sounds strange, but it is quite common in everyday use.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

But sir as we are using 'the', we have to use the superlative. Is this any reason for this problem?

Hello Darshan Sheth,

We can use 'the' with many adjectives:

the young

the old

the older

the oldest

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

solitude 提交于 周一, 03/08/2015 - 20:29

永久连接
Hello, How are we supposed to make a sentence consisted of EVEN and a comparative? He is shyer even than me. Hei is even shyer than me. Or any other form? I intend to imply that the aforementioned ME is so shy and the HE is even shyer. Best regards, thank you in advance.

Hello solitude,

There are several possibilities. 'Even' a comparative means that it is more than something which is already a lot.

It costs more than this phone. [the price is higher]

It costs even more than this phone. [the price is higher, and the phone was already a lot]

In your example we would say:

He is even shyer than me. [I am shy, he is more]

But we could also say, with the same meaning:

He is shyer even than me.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

"Using the adjectives at the top, type the correct form into the gaps to complete the sentences." I cant comprehend this instruction at exercise Comparative 1 and it's subsequent instruction referring to 'the top'. Where s top ?

Hello Githuga,

We recently changed the format of our exercises, and these instructions no longer made sense. I've now fixed this. Thank you very much for alerting us to this problem – it's thanks to you that it is now corrected!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

value4education 提交于 周日, 31/05/2015 - 10:23

永久连接
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

Penguin84 提交于 周三, 13/05/2015 - 00:45

永久连接
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

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

value4education 提交于 周日, 10/05/2015 - 08:06

永久连接
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

andeo 提交于 周一, 23/03/2015 - 22:11

永久连接
Hello the LearnEnglish Team, I have got two questions related to this topic. First, could you, please, explain me the meaning of the first sentence in the first exercise. "As you get older policemen seems to be younger". Niether I understand the meaning of the word GOT, nor the SEEMS in this context. Second, what is the function of "AS" in the same exercise. Could we say: "The plane flew higher the houses bellow got smaller" in order to have the same meaning as the original one that you written. Thanks in advance!

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

VR94 提交于 周三, 18/03/2015 - 16:45

永久连接
hello, in the first activity what is the function of GOT ? For example: as more people arrived the crowd GOT bigger. Thank you

Hello VR94,

If you look up 'get' in our dictionary, in the fifth entry (start to be), you'll find the meaning used here, along with other examples.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Ilariuccia 提交于 周六, 14/03/2015 - 18:08

永久连接
Hi everyone!Is it more correct to say/write : Maths is my least favourite subject or Maths is my worst subject?If they're both correct,what's the difference between them?

Hello llariuccia,

Both are correct, but mean different things: 'least favourite' expresses a preference, whereas 'worst' speaks of ability.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Diegocol710 提交于 周二, 10/03/2015 - 22:52

永久连接
Hi guys, how are you? May I know one correct answer from the fisrt excercise: "if i practice regularly i get... Thanks

Hi Diegocol710,

To see the correct answers to any task on LearnEnglish just click the 'Finish' button.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dwishiren 提交于 周五, 06/03/2015 - 19:43

永久连接
Why is a single-syllable adjective form used with "the most"? God is the Most High, the Most Great. / the Most Pure / the Most Stronge.

Hello Dwishiren,

To be honest, I don't know. If you search the internet for 'the most High', you can find the same phrasing in translations of Jewish and Christian sacred texts as well. Perhaps this use reflects a grammatical structure that doesn't exist in English, or, more likely, I suspect, it is used to emphasise the transcendental nature of the Supreme Being that these religious traditions refer to. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other context when this structure would be used, so I'd recommend you avoid it outside of religious contexts.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Linda Vejlupkova 提交于 周五, 06/03/2015 - 13:32

永久连接
One of my Khmer colleagues at work (SHE - NGO in Cambodia) studies English at a local college evening class. Her group has been asked to make a presentation on Comparative and Superlative adjectives and something called Equative adjectives. I have never heard of these and can't help her. Please can you explain what they are or give an example. I'm guessing it's how you make a comparison of things that appear to be 'equal'. Many thanks.

Hello Linda Vejlupkova,

This is not a term which I've ever seen used with reference to the English language. I can only assume it means adjectival forms which show the same degree, such as 'as big as'. However, I'm guessing as it's not a term I have seen used in an English language context.

This page may be helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team