Comparison of adjectives

January 3, 2015

Comparison of adjectives

Here are some basic things that I hope you all know, plus some extra information.

I The basic form of adjectives (and adverbs)

1) Short adjectives – the ones that have only one syllable, or two syllables *and* they also end in –ly, -y or -w;

– form the comparative grade by adding the –(e)r termination; the form is usually followed by the comparative conjunction than;

– form the superlative grade by adding the –(e)st termination and are always preceded by the definite article the; this form may be followed by preposition such as of or in to show the group you are referring to.

! Please note that:

– single consonants at the end of the adjectives double before the termination;

– the *y* at the end of the adjectives transforms into an *i*.


Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
small smaller (than) the smallest (of/in)
cold colder the coldest
hot hotter the hottest
big bigger the biggest
lovely lovelier the loveliest
tiny tinier the tiniest
mellow (moale, delicat) mellower the mellowest


I believe my brother is taller than yours.

My friend is the smartest in my study group.

The cheetah is the fastest of all land animals.

Using “less” or “the least” to express something is not as good as something else is not very usual for short adjectives. Try using their antonym instead or the structure not as [adj.] as [something else]”.

This costume is less good than the other. Try going for: This costume is not as good as the other.

I am less fast than him. Try using instead: I am slower than him.

Otherwise you might form some structures that are not really all that common after all. Check for example some forums such as this one.

2) Long adjectives – two syllables or more, all the rest that don’t fit above;

– form the comparative grade by using the “more” particle ahead of them;

– form the superlative grade by using the “the most” particle before them;

Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
beautiful More beautiful (than) the most beautiful (of/in)
graceful More graceful the most graceful
intelligent More intelligent the most intelligent
delicious More delicious the most delicious

I have been more dedicated to our goal than you think.

You are the most faithful friend that I ever had.

! Please note that for these adjectives it is much easier to change “more” in “less” and “the most” in “the least”.

He is less careful than your colleagues.

That man is the least interesting person in this group!

3) Also, please observe some irregular adjectives that have special forms:

Good – better – the best

Bad – worse – the worst

Much/many/a lot of – more – the most

Little – less – the least

Far – farther/further – the farthest / the furthest

4) Adverbs:

–  short ones, that have the same form as their adjectives, use the same known terminations: I tried harder than him, but I still failed to win.

– that have two or more syllables or are compound use the known particles: You work more effectively than everybody else.

Here’s also a little helpful link to test your adjective knowledge.

II Structures that express comparison

If you want to use more structures to compare things, try some of these:

–          as… [positive degree adj.] …as: She is as beautiful as her sister.

–          Not so/as… [positive degree adj.] …as: She is not as sweet as Betty.

–          Twice/three/half as… [positive degree adj.]+[object]  … as: She’s got twice as much money as I have. I have half as much time as you do.

–          The + [comparative degree adj.] …, the + [comparative degree adj.]: The sooner you clean up, the better it is. The more, the merrier.

–          Would prefer + [long inf. Verb] + rather than + [short inf. Vb]: I’d prefer to stay in rather than go out.

–          Would rather/sooner + [short inf. Vb] + than + [infinitive vb.]: I’d rather play tennis than watch the same thing.

–          Very + [positive degree adj.]: He is very practical.

–          Even/much/far/a bit + [comparative degree adj.]: It is even hotter than yesterday. It is a bit colder than last week.

–          Most + [positive degree adj.]: She is most helpful with the customers.

–          Any + [comparative degree adj.], usually used in negations and questions: Is he working any harder? He is not getting any closer to a promotion.

by Anca-Raluca Sandu

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