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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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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

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.)

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.
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.

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

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.
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

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.
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

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.
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

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

single syllable adjectives
Single-Syllable Adjectives
  • Several single-syllable adjectives have special comparative forms
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.

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.

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:
  • suspicious more suspicious
  • important more important
  • beautiful more beautiful
  • intelligent more intelligent
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
Some compound adjectives like good-looking or well-known have two possible comparatives.
  • Good-looking better-looking OR

more good-looking

  • well-known better-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.
The adverbs well, badly, and far have the same comparative forms as the adjectives good, bad, and far.
  • well better
  • badly worse
  • far farter/further
The comparative forms of single-syllable adverbs are made by adding –er.
  • fast faster
  • hard harder
  • late later
  • long longer
The vast majority of adverbs are derived by adding –ly to adjectives. These adverbs form their comparatives with more and less.
  • quickly more quickly
  • regularly more regularly
  • quietly more quietly
  • lively less lively
  • likely less likely
  • easily less 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.


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.


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)

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.


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