Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things to show the difference in the features of the two items. Sometimes two things are the same in some ways and different in other ways. For example, two buildings may be the same size but different colors. Comparative adjective forms are only used to compare one object to another, they can not be used to compare three or more items. In this example, smaller is the comparative form of the adjective “small.”
The kitten is smaller than the dog.
How to Construct Comparative Adjectives
To form a comparative adjective, you can add “er” to short adjectives or use “more” in front of longer adjectives. For example:
- short adjectives: add er: small + “er” = smaller
- long adjectives: use more: more + beautiful = more beautiful
|1-syllable adjectives||big, dumb|
|2-syllable adjectives ending in -y||easy, dirty|
|Normal rule: add “- er “||dumb – dumber|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in -e, just add -r||large – larger|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in consonant + vowel, double the last consonant||fat- fatter|
|Variation: if the adjective ends in -y, change the y to i||skinny – skinnier|
|2-syllable adjectives not ending in -y||insane, obese|
|all adjectives of 3 or more syllables||impressive, beautiful|
|Rule is to use more||insane – more insane
impressive – more impressive
We can use both -er and more for some adjectives:
- simple – simpler or more simple
- costly – costlier or more costly
For example, we can say both of the following without changing the meaning of the sentence:
- The first car is costlier than the second car.
- The first car is more costly than the second car.
Comparative Adjectives Versus Comparative Adverbs
When using comparative adjectives you will use than. Many times English learners confuse a comparative adjective which uses than, with a comparative adverb that does not. Comparative adverbs are common when comparing something to itself. Look at these examples:
- Tim runs faster when he is being chased. (comparing to itself – comparative adverb)
- Tim is faster than Jenny.
- I work harder when the project is interesting. (comparing to itself – comparative adverb)
- I work harder than Frank.
Some adjectives have irregular comparative forms:
- bad – worse
- far – further
- good – better
- much – more
- little – less
For example, we don’t say, “John is badder at golf than Adam is.” We say “John is worse at golf than Adam is.”
How to Use Comparative Adjectives
Remember that we only use comparative adjectives to compare two things, never three or more. Here are a few examples:
- John weighs 125 pounds. Sara weighs 110 pounds. John is heavier than Sara.
- Your house is bigger than mine is.
- He has better manners than she does.
- Was your math test easier than mine?
When we are comparing two girls, we can use the examples below:
|Height (in feet)||5.5”||5.0”||Jenny is shorter than Sara.|
|Weight(in pounds)||120||95||Sara is heavier than Jenny.|
|Shoe size(foot size)||3||4||Jenny has bigger feet than Sara.|
|Ear piercings||3||2||Sara has more ear piercings than Jenny.|
|Shirt color||black||white||Sara is wearing a darker shirt than Jenny.|
It is important to note that while comparative adjectives are only used to compare two things, one or both of those things can be a word that refers to a group of things. For example:
- The library is older than all the other buildings in town.
- Jim is faster than all of the other students.
Here, we use the term “all the other buildings” as a single item to compare the library to. We are not comparing each individual building to the library, but rather all the buildings as a single group. Here is an example of a comparative adjective which compares one group against another group:
- The girls’ soccer team is better than the boys’ soccer team.
Here, we are comparing all the members of the teams as single units. We are not comparing each girl on the team to each boy on the team.[slickquiz id=33]