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Comparison

Comparative is the name for the grammar used when comparing two things.
Equality: as … as
To say that people, things etc. are equal in a particular way, we often use the
structure as (much / many) … as or than. Examples of each are shown
below:
o My hands were as cold as ice.
o I earn as much money as you.

o This computer is better than that one.


o She's stronger at chess than I am.
o It's much colder today than it was yesterday.
o Our car is bigger than your car.
o This grammar topic is easier than most others.
o I find science more difficult than mathematics.
o Today's ESL lesson was more interesting than usual.

Please note: there are various words and structures can be used for
comparing but for this unit we cover only comparative adjectives + than
Note: When comparing with as … as, the adjective does not change. When
comparing with than, however, some changes are necessary, depending on
the number of syllables the adjective has.

Comparative and superlative adjectives


One-syllable adjectives normally have comparative and superlative ending in
–er, -est. Some two-syllable adjectives are similar; others have more and
most. Longer have more and most.
1. One-syllable adjectives: (regular comparison)
Adjectives Comparative Superlative
Old Older Oldest Most adjective: +
Tall Taller Tallest -er, -est.
Cheap Cheaper Cheapest
Late Later Latest Adjectives ending
Nice Nicer Nicest in –e: + -r, -st.
Fat Fatter Fattest One vowel + one
Big Bigger Biggest consonant:
Thin Thinner Thinnest double consonant

o My sister is much taller than me.


o It's colder today than

2. Irregular comparison
Adjective Comparative Superlative
Good Better Best
Bad Worse Worse
Ill Worse
Far Farther / Further Farthest / Farthest
Old Older / Elder Oldest / Eldest

Two-syllable adjectives ending in -y: change the -y to -ier


o She's looking happier today.
o This grammar topic is easier than the last one.
o Why is everyone else luckier than me?
Beware: Do not confuse adjectives and adverbs. 2-syllable adverbs ending
in -y must be compared with the word more. Example: I drive more quickly
(quicklier) than my brother.
Some other two-syllable adjectives can have –er and -est, especially
adjectives ending in an unstressed vowel. /l/ or /ə(r)/: simple-simpler-simplest,
clever-cleverer-cleverest, narrow-narrower-narrowest, quiet-quieter-quietest.
With many two-syllable adjectives (e.g. polite, common) –er / -est and
more / most are both possible. With others (including adjectives ending in –
ing, -ed, -ful and -less), only more / most is possible. In general, the
structure with more / most is becoming more common. To find out the normal
comparative and superlative for a particular two-syllable adjectives, check in a
good dictionary.

Longer adjectives: adjectives of three or more syllables have more and


most
Adjective Comparative Superlative
Intelligent More intelligent Most intelligent
Practical More practical Most practical
Beautiful More beautiful Most beautiful

Words like unhappy (the opposites of two-syllable adjectives ending in –y) are
an exception: they can have forms in –er and –est.
Unhappy; unhappier / more happy; unhappiest / most happy
Untidy; untidier / more tidy; untidiest / most tidy
Some compound adjectives like good-looking or well-known have two
possible comparative and superlative.
Good-looking; better-looking/more good-looking; best-looking/most good-
looking
Well-known; better-known/more well-known; best-known/most well-known

More, most with short adjectives


Sometimes more/most are used with adjectives that normally have –er / -est.
This can happen, e.g., when a comparative is not followed immediately by
than; forms with –er are also possible.
The road’s getting more and more steep. (OR … steeper and steeper.)
When we compare two descriptions (saying that one is more suitable or
accurate than another), we use more, comparative with –er are not possible.
He’s more lazy than stupid. (NOT He’s lazier than stupid.)
In a rather formal style, most can be used with adjectives expressing approval
and disapproval (including one-syllable adjectives) to mean “very”.
Thank you very much indeed. That is most kind of you. (NOT … that is
kindest of you.)
Real, right, wrong and like always have more and most.
She’s more like her mother than her father. (NOT … liker her mother…)

Less:
Less is the comparative of little (used especially before uncountable nouns).
I earn less money than a postman.
Less is used before determiners (like the, my or this) and pronouns.
I’d like to spend less of my time answering letters.
Before nouns without determiners, of is not used.
If you want to lose weight, eat less food. (NOT … less of food.)

More + noun
We can use more before a noun phrase as a determiner. We do not generally
use of when there is no other determiner (e.g. article or possessive).
We need more time. (NOT … more of time)
More university students are having to borrow money these days.
However, more of is used directly before personal and geographical names.
It would be nice to see more of Ray and Barbara.
Five hundred years ago, much more of Britain was covered with trees.
More of + determiner/pronoun
Before determiners (e.g. a, the, my, this) and pronoun, we use more of.
Three more of the missing climbers have been found.
Could I have some more of that smoked fish?
I don’t think any more of them want to come.

More without a noun


We can drop a noun after more if the meaning is clear.
I’d like some more, please.

The words but, while, and whereas can be confusing for students. They
seem like they serve the same function, which is to compare and contrast
things. However, there are differences that mean these words are not
interchangeable.
But

In English, we use the word but when we are comparing or contrasting


features of the same thing.
Example
The dog is tired but happy = the dog is tired but the dog is happy
(We don’t repeat “the dog.”)
The sea is wild but beautiful = the sea is wild but the sea is beautiful
(Again, remember that we don’t need to repeat “the sea.” We just keep it in
our mind.)
In these examples, we cannot simply use whereas in place of but:
The dog is tired whereas happy.
The sea is wild whereas beautiful.
When we use but we are introducing something opposite the original idea. If
you friend says, “I like going to the cinema, but…” then you know she will say
something negative. For example, “I like going to the cinema, but it’s a bit
expensive.”
Here are some more examples:
The wine is delicious but cheap.
The book was long but engaging.
Yesterday was cold but sunny.
Remember that in each case we are comparing the first item (the noun) in
terms of both following items (the adjectives) but we don’t need to repeat the
noun.

Whereas

Unlike but, we use whereas to compare and contrast the features of different
things.
Example:
Tigers have stripy fur whereas leopards have spots.
They say that fashion is temporary whereas style lasts forever.
In Southern France the winters are quite mild whereas in the north they can
be cold.
In all three examples, we are comparing the features of different things: tigers
and leopards; fashion and style; Southern France and Northern France.
While

We can also use while to compare and contrast ideas. However, unlike the
previous two words, we typically use while at the beginning of a sentence.
This marks a dependent clause, making these sentences complex.
While she didn’t study very heard, she still got good grades in her exams.
While he may be rich, he certainly isn’t handsome.
While the food in that restaurant is top quality, the service is atrocious.
In each example, we are introducing an idea that contrasts with the idea in the
second clause. For example, it is surprising that she got good grades because
she didn’t study!
We can’t reverse the sentence order:
He certainly isn’t handsome while he may be rich.