Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs

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Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs :

Read the following sentences.

1. Dhan Singh is a tall man.
2. Negi is taller than Dhan Singh.
3. Benny is the tallest man.

These different degrees of height are expressed by three different forms.

Tall – taller – tallest

Thus we have three degrees of comparison.

1. Positive degree of comparison (e.g. tall)
2. Comparative degree of comparison (e.g. taller)
3. Superlative degree of comparison (e.g. tallest).

The above are examples of the comparison of an adjective. Adverbs, too, have the degrees of comparison.

1. Anand ran fast. (Positive)
2. Tom ran faster than Anand. (Comparative)
3. Abdul ran fastest of all (Superlative)

A great many adjectives and a few adverbs form their comparative and superlative by adding ER and EST to the positive. A few adjectives and many adverbs take more and most. Here are some rules.

Adjectives and adverbs of one syllable form their comparative and superlative with ER and EST. Sometimes change of spelling is also required.

1. Strong….stronger….strongest
2. rich….richer….richest
3. big….bigger….biggest
4. brave….braver….bravest
5. fast….faster….fastest
6. soon….sooner….soonest

Adjectives of three or more syllables and adverbs of two or more syllables (adverbs ending in LY and a few others) form their comparative and superlative by putting MORE & MOST before the positive.

1. beautiful….more beautiful….most beautiful
2. interesting….more interesting….most interesting
3. slowly….More slowly….most slowly
4. carefully….more carefully….most carefully

Adjectives of two syllables follow one or other of the above rules.

Those which end in y usually add ER & EST.

1. happy….happier….happiest
2. funny….funnier….funniest

Most other two-syllable adjectives take MORE & MOST.

1. hateful….more hateful….most hateful
2. tiring….more tiring….most tiring
3. tragic….more tragic….most tragic

The following take either ER & EST or MORE & MOST.

1. Common….commoner….commonest
2. Common….more common….most common
3. Quiet….quieter….quietest
4. Quiet….more quiet….most quiet
5. gentle….gentler….gentlest
6. gentle….more gentle….most gentle


With nearly all of these words, the MORE & MOST forms are preferred. So a simple rule for two-syllable adjectives is….use MORE & MOST except for those which end in Y.

A few adjectives and adverbs have irregular comparatives and superlatives.

1. good….better….best
2. well….better….best
3. bad….worse….worst
4. badly….worse….worst
5. little….less….least
6. many….more….most
7. much….more….most
8. far….farther (or distance only) ….furthest (of distance and time)
9. far….farther….furthest

The adjective OLD has both regular forms of comparison (older, oldest) and irregular forms (elder, eldest).

OLDER & OLDEST are used of people or things.

But ELDER & ELDEST are only used of people, mainly family relations.

My elder brother is an engineer.
This is my eldest daughter.

Note that the form ELDER can never be used with THAN.

1. You should say….Rekha is older than Padma.
2. You should NOT say….Rekha is elder than Padma.

Though the girls are sisters, you may say….Rekha is the elder of the two sisters.

Comparison of equals is expressed by as + adjective + as….

1. Mary is as clever as Betty.
2. Vijay is as old as Bhaskar.
3. This room is as wide as that.
4. Mohan works as hard as Ramesh.
5. Gita types as carefully as Kamala.

In the negative comparison, so… can be used instead of as…

1. Mary isn’t as clever as Grace.
2. Mary isn’t so clever as Grace.
3. That room is not as wide as this.
4. That room is not so wide as this.
5. Atul doesn’t work as hard as Vijay.
6. Atul doesn’t work so hard as Vijay.

Comparison of two unequal persons or things is expressed by the comparative with THAN.

1. Grace is cleverer than Mary.
2. That room is wider than this.
3. Vijay works harder than Atul.

The following construction can also be used.

1. Grace is the cleverer of the two girls.
2. That room is the wider of the two.

The OF phrase is sometimes placed for emphasis at the beginning of the sentence.

1. Of the two girls, Grace is the cleverer.

Comparison of three or more persons is expressed by the superlative with THE.

1. Ramesh is the cleverest of the boys.
2. This is the oldest school in the town.
3. It was the worst moment in my life.
4. This is the most interesting book I have ever read.
5. Mr. Kumar works the (hardest) in the office.
6. Usha ran (the) fastest of all.

The THE before adverbs is often omitted.

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