Comparatives superlatives
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COMPARATIVES & SUPERLATIVES. Types of comp a r isons. Comparisons are of different types, depending on whether the things being compared are seen as different or similar on the dimension on which they are being compared. The two main types of comparisons: inequality comparisons

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Comparatives superlatives


Types of comp a r isons

Types of comparisons

Comparisons are of different types, depending on whether the things being compared are seen as different or similar on the dimension on which they are being compared. The two main types of comparisons:

inequality comparisons

equality comparisons

Comparatives superlatives

Inequality comparisons:

  • Itpresents two things being compared as a different points on a scale related to the dimension on which they are being compared.

  • John is taller than Bill is.

    (Bill and John are compared in the respect of height, which has different degrees on a scale represented by the adjective tall.)

Comparatives superlatives

  • In the example the second clause of comparison is a reduced version of preceding clause, with omission of content that is like the content in the first clause. Thus we can write the sentence in different ways:

  • John is tallerthan Bill is tall.

  • John is tallerthan Bill is.

  • John is taller than Bill.

Comparatives superlatives

Inequality comparisons may express:

superiority relationship:

  • It has the meaning “x is greater than y”. It is expressed by more or –er on certain adjectives and adverbs and with than introducing a second clause.

  • The element on which things are compared can be one that is expressed by an adjective, an adverb, a noun or a verb.

  • Adjectives used in comparisons need to be gradable adjectives.

Comparatives superlatives


Fred is smarter than Alice. adjective(with –er)

George is more considerate

than Alan is. adjective (with more)

She tries harderthan Susan does. adverb (with –er)

She speaks more frequently than

he does. adverb (with more)

John has more problems than I do. noun

He talks a lot more than she does. verb

Comparatives superlatives

  • Although generally expressed with comparative sentences, superiority relationships can also be expressed by certain verbs, such as surpass, prefer (to) and favor (over) and certain combination ofbe+adjective+ to.

  • I prefer opera to the ballet.

  • His entry was superior to hers.

  • The solution he suggested is preferable tothe one you just made.

Comparatives superlatives

Inferiority relationships:

  • It has the meaning “x is less than y”.

  • It is expressed by less- or with count nouns, fewer - followed by than introducing the second clause.

  • The first estimate was less expensive adjective

    than the second.

  • He drives less cautiously than I do. adverb

  • She has much less money than

    you do. noncount noun (with less)

  • Alice has fewer friends than

    Susan does. count noun (with fewer)

  • She contributes much less to the

    discussion than her husband does. verb

Comparatives superlatives

  • Although the rule for less and fewer is that less is used with noncount nouns and fewer with count nouns; in spoken English, less is used sometimes instead of fewer.

  • On the midterm exam, he made fewer mistake than the other students.

  • On the midterm exam, he made less mistake than the other students.

Equality comparisons

Equality comparisons:

  • When we present two things as being equal in some respect,we make equality comparisons.

  • It say that in some respect “x is equal to y”.

  • Equality comparisons are expressed through as…, which links the two clauses.

Comparatives superlatives

  • The hat was as expensive asadjective

    the sweater.

  • This course covers the material adverb

    as thoroughly as that other course.

  • He has as much/little money as

    she does.noncount noun(with much/little)

  • They have as many/few friends

    as we do. count noun (with many/few)

  • He contributed as much/little to

    the discussion as Susan did. verb

Comparatives superlatives

  • Equality comparisons can be made in a number of ways. For example, with be or a similar verb followed by the same+noun+as, similar to or equal/identicalto or (just) like.

  • Susan’s car is the same color as the car we saw in front of Steve’s house.

  • His views on that matter are similar to those of the other speaker.

  • His raincoat is identical to mine.

  • He is just like his sister.

Comparatives superlatives

  • By inserting not , we can change the sentence expressing inequality comparisons.

  • The hat was not as/so expensive as the sweater.

  • This course doesn’t cover the material as thoroughly as that other course.

  • He doesn’t have as much money as she does.

  • They don’t have as many friends as we do.

  • He didn'tcontribute as muchas to the discussion as Susan did.



Indicate whether each sentence conveys an inequality relationship, an equality relationship or just a difference.

1.Her opinion on that matter is definitely different from that of the editorial board.

Answer:just a difference

2.Bill is less judgment than Alan is.

Answer:an inequality relationship.

3.Sally is definitely more ambitious than Marcia is.

Answer:an inequality relationship

Comparatives superlatives

4.He isn’t really like his brother at all.

Answer:just a difference

5.A snowshoe hare is just as fast as a lynx. They escape them about 50 percent of the time

Answer:an equality relationship

6.NASA’s successful landing of robot explorer on Mars does not really surpass some of its previous accomplishment, such as landing a lunar module.

Answer:an inequality relationship

Comparative forms of adjectives and adverbs


Single syllable adjectives

Single-Syllable Adjectives

  • Several single-syllable adjectives have special comparative forms

Fo r the remaining si n gle syllable adjectives er is preferred

For the remaining single- syllable adjectives, -er is preferred.

Comparatives superlatives

  • Some adjectives do commonly occur with either –er or more.

  • quick quicker

    more quick

  • fierce fiercer

    more fierce

Two syllable adjectives

Two-Syllable Adjectives:

  • With two-syllable adjectives, some must form the comparative with more whereas otherstend to form it with –er.

  • An –er is preferred with adjectives that are stressed on the first syllable and end in -y,-ly, -le, or –ow.

Comparatives superlatives

More is required for most other two-syllable adjectives, including those that are stressed on the first syllable and end in –ful, -ish, -al, -ic, -ous.

Comparatives superlatives

  • Stress placement and the ending of the base form are not always solid predictors of what the comparative form will be.

    As the following examples show, adjectives with the same stress pattern (stress first syllable) and the same endings (-id, -on, -er, -ed, -ant) in some cases take either –er or more and in others must take more.

Adjectives with m ore t han t wo s yllables

Adjectives with More Than Two Syllables:

  • If an adjective has more than two syllables, the comparative form will be made with more, for example:

  • suspiciousmore suspicious

  • importantmore important

  • beautifulmore beautiful

  • intelligentmore intelligent

Comparatives superlatives

  • There are very few exception to this, being three syllable adjectives that were formed by adding the prefix un- to a two-syllable adjective that forms its comparative in –er. For example:

  • un + happy (unhappy)unhappier

  • un + tidy (untidy)untidier

Comparatives superlatives

  • Some compound adjectives like good-looking or well-known have two possible comparatives.

  • Good-lookingbetter-looking OR

    more good-looking

  • well-knownbetter-known OR

    more well-known

Particip i al adjectives

Participial Adjectives:

  • Many adjectives are formed from present or past participles. Participle adjectives have only comparative forms withmore.

  • When she heard that the plane was overdue, she became even more worried.

  • The game turned out to be more exciting than we had anticipated.

Double comparatives

Double comparatives

  • More and a following –er comparative form of the adjective are sometimes heard in conversation, even though this is not considered acceptable in educated English. For example:

  • This way it is more easier to see.

  • It’s much more warmer in there.

  • She’s a bit more nicer than Mrs. Jones.

Comparatives superlatives

  • The adverbs well, badly, and far have the same comparative forms as the adjectives good, bad, and far.

  • wellbetter

  • badlyworse

  • farfarter/further

Comparatives superlatives

  • The comparative forms of single-syllable adverbs are made by adding –er.

  • fastfaster

  • hardharder

  • latelater

  • longlonger

Comparatives superlatives

  • The vast majority of adverbs are derived by adding –ly to adjectives. These adverbs form their comparatives with more and less.

  • quicklymore quickly

  • regularly more regularly

  • quietlymore quietly

  • livelyless lively

  • likelyless likely

  • easilyless easily

Exercises indicate whether the cooperative form is each sentence is acceptable if not explain why

Exercises:Indicate whether the cooperative form is each sentence is acceptable. If not, explain why.

1.The problem was not more easier than I thought.

Answer:un acceptable (more is unnecessary.)

2.The Art Institute of Chicago has a more complete collection of Impressionist paintings than the museum in Minneapolis has.


Comparatives superlatives

3.He was supposed to arrive at two o’clock, but he didn’t. At 2:30 he still hadn’t come, and we were getting anxiouser and anxiouser.

Answer:unacceptable(two syllable adjectives that have a stress first syllable and end in –ous form the comparative with more)

4.It is simpler and more efficient to learn the rules and abide by them than to ignore them.


Comparatives superlatives

5.Today it is actually more warmer outside the house than inside.

Answer:unacceptable (more is unnecessary; this is a double comparative)

6.That lecture turned out to be boring than I had expected.

Answer:unacceptable (participial adjectives form the comparative with more)

7.She was even more strong than I thought. She could lift her own weight.

Answer:unacceptable (two-syllable adjectives ending in –y form the comparative with –er)

Comparatives superlatives

8.Mr. Cruise’s performance in his latest film is less risky than his performance is Risky Business.

Answer:acceptable (adjective of two or more syllables are usually formed with less)

9.Many movie stars are less impressive in person than they are when you see them on the big screen.


Comparatives superlatives

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