Grammar. 27.01.2012
Grammar Teacher

The comparison of adjectives

Автор: Grammar Teacher
Jealousy is the fear of comparison.
Max Frisch

Since our early childhood, we keep on comparing things, people, feelings, tastes, kisses, etc. This comes natural. “My mom is prettier than yours”, “Your shoes are cheaper than mine”, “I can jump higher than you” - we always wanted to be the best, didn't we? This time we'll learn to compare in English by using comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.

We use the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives to compare and contrast different objects in English. We use the comparative form to show the difference between two objects. Example: Our house is bigger than yours (Наш будинок більший, ніж ваш). Superlative adjectives are used to speak about three or more objects to show which object is 'the most' of something. Example: We live in the biggest house on the block. (Ми живемо у найбільшому будинку у кварталі).

The comparison of shorter adjectives

There are two ways to form comparative and superlative adjectives, depending on the length of the adjective. The first one is by adding –er (to form the comparative) and –est (to form the superlative) to the adjective.

We use -er/-est with the following adjectives:

1) adjectives with one syllable (односкладові прикметники)



adjective comparative superlative
clean cleaner the cleanest
nice nicer the nicest
new newer the newest
cheap cheaper rhe cheapest

2) adjectives with two syllables ending in –y, -er, -le, -ow:

clever - cleverer - cleverest;
friendly —friendlier - friendliest (note: y changes to i);
pretty – prettier - prettiest;
narrow - narrower - narrowest
simple – simpler - simplest

There are some rules concerning the spelling (написання) of comparative and superlative forms:

1. Many one-syllable adjectives end with a single consonant (приголосна) after a single vowel-letter (голосна). This consonant doubles in the comparative and superlative:

fat – fatter - fattest
sad - sadder - saddest
thin - thinner - thinnest
wet - wetter - wettest.

2. Many one-syllable adjectives end in -e, like nice. These add -r and -st to the basic form, leave out the silent –e:

Nice – nicer- nicest
Large – larger – largest

3. Some adjectives, like tidy, end in -y with a consonant letter before it. These adjectives are usually two-syllable. In the comparative and superlative -y is replaced by i:

Tidy – tidier – tidiest
Dirty – dirtier – dirtiest
Empty – emptier – emptiest









The garden looks better after you tidied it up.
It's one of the best meals I've ever had.
The situation was even worse then we expected.
Why do you always come at the worst possible moment?
1. Farther (refers to length or distance)
London is farther north than Juneau.
2. Further (refers to time or amount).
This plan requires further study.
(Meaning "additional study," refers to amount)

I am very tired. I can't walk any
(«any more», refers to time).
1. Farthest
Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun.

2. Furthest
He's my furtherst love.
1. Older
Tom looks older than he really is.

2. Elder
 (we use elder when we are talking about memebers of a family.)
My elder brother is a pilot.
1. Oldest
This house is the oldest building in
the town.
2. Eldest

My eldest son is 13 years old.

The comparison of longer adjectives

All adjectives with more than one syllable (except some adjectives with two syllables which we’ve just discussed) combine with more/less to form their comparatives and the most/least to form their superlatives.

difficult - more/less difficult - (the) most/least difficult
careful – more/less careful – (the) most/least careful
famous – more/less famous – (the) most/least famous

It is important to remember that in sentences the superlative form is normally used with the definite article THE:

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year.
She is a really nice person – one of the nicest people I know.
That was the most boring movie I've ever seen.

But the is sometimes dropped, especially after Which?:

Which is best? The red one or the green one?

We also use most+adjective (without the) to mean very:

The book you lent me was most interesting (very interesting).
Thank you for the money. It was most generous of you. (very generous).

Note that we often use present perfect after a superlative:

'War and Peace' is the longest book (that) I have ever read
“Війна і мир” - найдовша книга,яку я коли-небудь читав.
Jenny is the most beautiful girl (that/whom) I have ever met.
Дженні – найгарніша дівчина,яку я коли-небудь зустрічав.

The use of 'than' in the comparative.

A comparative can stand on its own (самостійно):
The gray coat is longer.

This means that the hearer understands that the speaker is comparing the gray coat with another coat or something similar. However, if we need to mention each item, then we must use THAN after the comparative:

I feel less tired today than I felt yesterday.
A scheduled flight is more expensive than a charter flight.


To show that two people, things, etc. are similar, we use the construction 'as + adjective +as'. The adjective in this case is in its basic form:

Jane is as intelligent as Peter.
Jeffrey is as tall as his father now.
Soames is not as/not so suitable for the job as I am.

A number of everyday expressions with as + adjective + as are commonly in use: as clear as crystal, as cold as ice, as good as gold, as light as a feather, as old as the hills, as white as snow.

After than and as it is more natural to say me/him/her/you/us/them. Compare these sentences:

You are taller than I am. - You are taller than me.
I can't run as fast as he can. - I can't run as fast as him.
They have more money than we have. - They have more money
than us.

Which is the most beautiful city in Ukraine? What's the most beautiful language? Do you cook better than your partner do? Watch and listen to what people answer:






And now it's time to practise. Check your understanding of the topic with help of these


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