Comparatives & Superlatives
1. Expressing Similarity
as ........ as ........ eg. as often as you like
not as (so) ........ as ........ eg. not as easy as I thought
half not nearly not quite hardly nearly almost equally twice three times
eg. It was INTENSIFIER as hard as I'd thought.
2. Expressing Comparison
...er / more ........ (see point 6) eg. sooner / more quickly
less ........ eg. less rapidly
not any slightly a little a bit rather a good deal much a lot considerably even far
eg. It was INTENSIFIER harder than I'd thought.
eg. It was INTENSIFIER more difficult than I'd thought.
eg. It was INTENSIFIER less complicated than I expected.
3. Expressing Superlatives
...est / most ........ (see point 6) eg. tallest / most massive
least ........ eg. least usual
hardly literally clearly obviously by far
eg. It was INTENSIFIER the easiest way.
eg. It was INTENSIFIER the most honorable way.
eg. It was INTENSIFIER the least dangerous way.
4. Expressing Proportional Increase
Using comparative forms, follow one of three patterns:
comp. , comp. eg. The sooner, the better.
comp. + verb , comp. eg. The sooner she comes, the better.
comp. + verb , comp. + verb eg. The sooner she comes, the better I'll feel
5. Expressing Increasing Intensity
...er and ...er eg. It's getting hotter and hotter in here.
more ........ and more ........ eg. The row turned more and more personal.
less ........ and less ........ eg. His comments got less and less polite.
increasingly more/less ........ eg. The film became increasingly more boring.
ever ...er eg. His reflexes became ever slower.
ever more/less ........ eg. Jobs are ever more scarce in the region.
NB 'ever' tends to have a more literary tone to it.
6. Formation of Comparatives and Superlatives
- Add ...er (comparative form) / ...est (superlative form)
eg. nice/nicer/nicest fast/faster/fastest dry/drier/driest
NB final single consonant is doubled (eg. big/bigger thin/thinner)
- Most adjectives or adverbs of five letters or less add ...er / ...est
eg. happy/happier/happiest quiet/quieter/quietest early/earlier/earliest
- Most adjectives or adverbs of six letters or more use more ........ / most .......
eg. absurd/more absurd/most absurd frequent/more frequent/most frequent
Three-or-more-syllable adjectives/adverbs use more ........ / most ........
eg. diligent/more diligent/most diligent effective/more effective/most effective
7. Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives
good/well better best
bad/ill worse worst
far farther farthest (relating to distances)
far further furthest (metaphorical sense, eg. further education)
old older oldest (general use)
old elder eldest (for family members)
much more most
many more most
little less least
real more real most real
right more right most right
wrong more wrong most wrong
upper eg. the upper layer
lower eg. the lower house
latter eg. the latter point
former eg. the former address
inner eg. the inner ear
outer eg. the outer garments
lesser eg. the lesser evil
8. Comparing Statistics - Useful Expressions
one in three (33%) one in four (25%) one in ten (10%) (NB Only used with 'one')
one out of (every) five (20%) two out of three (66%) nine out of ten (90%)
half / a third / a quarter (of people interviewed) said that ...
half as many ... twice as many ... three times as many ...
no less than (one in three) ... no fewer than (sixty percent) ...
as against (eg. The company's market share was 20% as against 26% last year.)
compared to (eg. She can be compared to some of the greatest actresses of our time.)
compared with (eg. I spent much more on my holidays this year compared with last year.)
in comparison to (eg. His ideas should only be seen in comparison to those of his peers'.)
in comparison with (eg. In comparison with your previous efforts, this is a masterpiece.)
[NB for 'compared'/'comparison', 'to' stresses similarity, 'with' stresses difference]
© Nigel J. Ross, 2003