Adjectives as Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparatives and Superlatives - Lesson #2

Comparative adjectives are very common in English.

We use comparative adjectives to compare 2 people, places, or things.

Here is the basic sentence pattern that we use.

Subject A + be verb + comparative + than + Subject B
  • Summer is hotter than winter.
  • The blue shirt was more expensive than the red shirt.
  • It will be nicer than you think.
  • Action movies are more exciting than documentaries.
We can make negative sentences by using "be verb + not"
  • He isn't taller than me. He is shorter than me.
  • Mark is not faster than Cindy. Mark is slower than Cindy.
  • This is not more expensive than I thought. It is the same as what I thought.
We can leave out "than…." if both the speaker and the listener already know it.
  • This shirt is too small. Can I get a bigger one (than this shirt)?
  • My car is faster (than your car).
This happens very naturally in a conversation.

A) Who do you think is faster – Bill or Ted?
B) I think Ted is faster.

A) Do you want to eat pizza or chicken?
B) I want to eat pizza because pizza is more delicious.

A) These shoes are too small.
B) Do you need a bigger size?

If we use "than", we can use a noun/pronoun or a clause after it.
  • She is taller than me. = She is taller than I am.
  • It is not hotter than yesterday. = It is not hotter than yesterday was.
  • He is nicer than her. = He is nicer than she is.
We can also use "than + clause". A clause is a group of words that is similar to a sentence, but many times a clause cannot be a sentence on its own.Here are some of the most common examples. Learn how to do this well and your English will sound advanced and natural.
  • It is more interesting than I thought.
  • It looks bigger than when I was young.
  • She is taller than I remember.
  • It was more expensive than I could afford.
  • The job was not harder than I had originally expected.
We also use comparative adjectives with stative verbs (look, sound, feel, etc.).
  • It looks more comfortable than before.
  • He looks stronger than last year.
  • Your voice sounds better.
  • It feels softer than I remember.
  • She doesn't seem older than the last time I saw her.
Questions are formed the same way as other questions. We usually use yes/no questions with comparative adjectives.
  • Can you cook better than your brother?
  • Are you faster than a horse?
  • Will you work harder than now?
  • Are you going be nicer to me from now on?
  • Which place is warmer – Korea or Japan?
There are also many words that we can add before comparatives to add more detail and to show the degree. Here are some of the most common ones.

mucha lotfar (= a lot)
a bita littleslightly (=a little)
  • This hotel is much cheaper than that hotel.
  • She is a lot taller than her sister.
  • Thailand is far hotter than Norway.
  • My brother is a bit more ambitious than I am.
  • Yesterday was a little colder than today.
  • It was slightly better last time.
Even though this grammar compares two things, the second subject can sometimes be a plural noun.
  • A Cheetah is faster than other animals.
We are comparing 2 things: 1) cheetah 2) other animals. "Other animals" is considered one group because we are talking about them as one.

Now, let's spend some time learning how to form comparative adjectives.

Making Comparative Adjectives

1. For short adjectives (one syllable or sometimes two syllables), just add "-er" to the end of the adjective. Here are some examples.

fast fasterstrong strongertall taller

If the adjective ends in "-e", just add "-r" to the end.

nice nicerlate laterlarge larger

Some adjectives change their spelling a little in the comparative form. These usually end in "g", "t", or "d". But not all adjectives that end in these letters do this.

big biggersad sadderfat fatter
old oldershort shorterfast faster

Note: You just have to memorize these.

If a short adjective ends in "-y", then "y" changes to "-ier". By the way, these are two-syllable adjectives that change this way.

happy happierhealthy healthierscary scarier

Here are some example sentences.
  • My car is faster than your car.
  • That tree is tallerthan my house.
  • She is nicer than you think.
  • This soda is larger than I need.
  • Can I get this in a bigger size than this one?
  • I want to be healthier than I am now.
2. For long adjectives (two or more syllables), we make the comparative by putting the words "more" or "less" before the adjective.

interesting more/less interestingbeautiful more/less beautiful
amazing more/less amazingexpensive more/less expensive

Here are some example sentences.
  • I think that Thailand is more beautiful than my country.
  • Starbucks is more expensive than Min's Coffee Shop.
  • This place is more amazing than I thought it would be.
  • The movie was less interesting than I thought.
  • It was less expensive than she said it would be.
3. Some words that are 2-syllables can form the comparative by adding "-er" or putting "more/less" before them. These are words that are not long, but also not short. They are in the middle.

narrownarrowermore/less narrow
quietquietermore/less quiet
shallowshallowermore/less shallow
simplesimplermore/less simple

Here are some example sentences.
  • This English grammar is simpler than I thought.
  • This English grammar is more simple than I thought.
  • Rivers are shallower than oceans.
  • Rivers are more shallow than oceans.
  • The nightclub is not quieter than the library.
  • The nightclub is less quiet than the library.
4. There are some irregular comparative adjectives. These do not follow the rules that we have covered so far.

good betterbad worse
far further/fartherfun more/less fun
  • Video games are more fun than mobile games.
  • It is further away than you think.
  • Her hair looks better than before.
  • I am worse at soccer than he is.
Note: "Further" can also mean additional or more. For example, "Let me know if you hear any further news."