What is the comparative?

What is the comparative?


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We use the English comparative to compare and describe things or people:

To do this, we need to use comparative adjectives:

  • We need a bigger boat.
  • I’m feeling better now.

Comparative adjectives

Let’s look at the formation of English comparative adjectives, there are several types:

Comparative adjectives with one syllable:  fast, great, quick, short, small, tall

It is necessary to add -er

  • cheap => cheaper 
  • high => higher 

Comparative adjectives with one syllable ending in ‘e’:  close, huge, large, strange…

It is necessary to add -r

  • nice => nicer
  • wise => wiser

Adjectives that end in consonants /vowel/consonants:  fat, red, sad, thin…

it is necessary to add an additional consonant followed by -er

  • big => bigger
  • hot => the hotter 

Adjectives in two syllables ending with -y:   heavy, tiny…

you have to replace the -y by -ier

  • happy => happier
  • crazy => crazier 
  • early => earlier 
  • easy => easier 
  • pretty => prettier

Adjectives in two or more syllables: important, delicious, generous…

It is necessary to add the word ‘more’

  • beautiful => more beautiful 
  • expensive => more expensive

Irregular comparative adjectives:

  • good => better 
  • bad => worse
  • far => further 
  • little => the smaller 

How to compare two things

To compare one thing with another you have to use THAN:

  • He is three years older than me.
  • New York is much bigger than Chicago.
  • Zidane is a better football player than Ronaldo.
  • Australia is a bigger country than Portugal.

When you want to describe how something or someone has changed you can use the same comparison twice with ‘and’ between them:

  • The lake got bigger and bigger.
  • Everything is getting more and more expensive. 
  • My house is looking older and older. 

THE is often used with comparative adjectives to show that one thing depends on another:

  • The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is.
  • The higher he climbed, the colder it got. 
  • The longer you wait, the harder it gets. 

How to say that two things are equal: As… as…

We use as + adjective + as to say that two things are similar or equal:

  • He’s as tall as me.
  • Tom’s bike is as fast as mine.

We use not as + adjective + as to say that two things are not equal:

  • Danny’s car is not as fast as mine.

⚠ We can modify the comparisons with by, far, easily and nearly:

  • Burger King is by far better than Mac Donald.
  • She’s nearly taller than him.

⚠ Be careful not to confuse superlatives and comparative!

To see the lesson on superlatives click here.

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