Comparative Adjectives
Complete Guide

In this Guide you will learn:

  • The definition of  a comparative adjective.
  • How to form a comparative adjective.
  • Examples with irregular comparative adjectives.
  • The difference between comparative and superlative adjectives.
  • Comparative adjective exercises.
comparative adjective

What is a comparative adjective?

Definition: A comparative adjective is an adjective that compares two nouns.

 

Example: The men are taller than the women.

 

In this example we are comparing two nouns (the men and the women). The adjective in this sentence is “tall” but because we are comparing two nouns then we need to use the comparative adjective “taller”. This is different from a superlative adjective.

What is a superlative adjective?

Definition: A superlative adjective is when we compare one noun to all of the other nouns

Example: John is the tallest man in the world!

So, you can see that in the first example we compared two nouns ( men and women) and in the second example we compared one noun (John) to all the other nouns (the people in the world).  

 

Comparative Adjective Structure

 

How to form comparative adjectives

Rule Comparative Adjective Example
1 syllable(short words)
adjective +er
I am taller than you.
You are faster than me.
2+ syllables (long words)
more + adjective
She is more beautiful than her mother.
He is more intelligent than his brother.
Words that end in Y
-Y and +ier
You are luckier than Peter.
I am happier than my sister.

After comparative forms we use the word THAN. The comparative forms is -er or more. We use the -er ending with one syllable adjectives like: short, tall, cheap.   

Examples: 

I’m shorter than my brother. 

These shoes are cheaper than the blue ones. 

My sister is taller than me.

When the adjectives are longer we use more such as: beautiful, expensive, interesting. 

Examples:

She is more inquisitive than her sister.

That neighbourhood is more dangerous than my neighbourhood.

How to use pronouns with comparative adjectives

She runs faster than I or She runs faster than me? 

As you can see in the last example if we are comparing two people, we use an object pronoun: 

Examples: 

My sister is taller than me. (object pronoun) 

Alice is younger than her

I’m faster than him.

I’m older than them.  

They studied harder than us.

We can use auxiliary verbs when we compare two actions.

In this case you have to pay attention to the verb tense used in the main verb. 

Examples: 

You work harder than I do

She ran faster than he did

You’re taller than I am

When we compare possessions we can also use possessive pronouns. 

English possessive pronouns: 

I – mine
You – yours 
She – hers
He – his
It – its 
We – ours 
They – theirs 
 

Examples: 

Your phone is more expensive than my phone. 

Or 

Your phone is more expensive than mine

Our car is older than your car. 

Or 

Our car is older than yours

We also use -er ending with two-syllable adjectives ending in -y as in: easy, lucky, early and pretty. 

This exam was easier than the last one. 

I have to get up earlier. 

This red dress is prettier than the white one. 

As you can see, we change the -y for -ier. 

We also use the word more with adverbs that end in -ly like: slowly, carefully, clearly

Have a look at these examples: 

Could you drive more slowly? 

You have to drive more carefully, this road is very dangerous. 

Can you speak more clearly?

 

 

Learn more about Comparative Adjectives

 

Exceptions to the rules

There are regular adjectives such as: 

Young (younger)

Old (older) 

Fast (faster)

And there are irregular adjectives too, such as:

Good / Well – better 

Bad / Badly – worse

Far – further 

In these cases we don’t add the -er ending or the word more. Read these examples: 

She is better at swimming than me. 

The movie is better than the book 

My house is further than your house. 

I feel worse than yesterday. 

In some cases we can use the ending -er or more with two syllable adjectives especially with the following: clever, narrow, quiet, simple, shallow. 

She’s cleverer.  

She’s more clever.

In this case both options are correct. 

Modifiers: 

We can add words like: much, a lot, far (=a lot), a little, a bit, slightly to modify the amount. 

I feel much better today. 

Are you a bit better today? 

This book is a bit more expensive than the other. 

Now that she changed her job she’s a lot happier. 

Other uses for comparative adjectives in English: 

Better and better 

We repeat the comparatives to express that something changes continuously. 

If you study English every day you’ll get better and better. 

Renting is getting more and more expensive these days. 

The …. The … 

You can use the definite article “the” before an adjective to say that one thing depends on another. 

The sooner we leave the better. 

The further you go out of the city the cheaper it gets. 

The longer we wait the later we’ll be. 

The … The …. 

You can add expressions with two comparative adjectives. Such as: 

The sooner the better. (= as soon as possible the better)

The younger, the better. ( = as young as possible the better)

Older or elder? 

Older refers to the comparative of old, we use it only when we compare. 

My best friend is older than me. 

Elder is used when you talk about people in your family. You can also use older. 

My elder sister works in the pharmacy. 

Do you have an elder brother?

Attention: we do not say “My sister is elder than me”

The opposite of comparatives (less)

We use less as an opposite of more. The adjectives will change in the same way as before, by adding -er or less instead of more. 

Examples: 

You are working less harder than I am. 

The movie is less interesting.  

You’re less busy than I am. 

Remember to add the word less in all the sentences you make.

What is the comparative adjective of lazy?

Lazy ends in a Y so if you remember the rules from above you will know that the comparative adjective of lazy is lazier.

 

Comparative vs Superlative adjectives 

 

We use Superlative adjectives when we compare one thing (object / person) with many, this object stands out because it has more of a quality than others in the same group. 

To form a superlative you add the definite article the and -est ending to one-syllable adjectives, like: tall, young, old, great. 

For more than two-syllable adjectives you simply add the indefinite article the and most before adjectives such as: beautiful, interesting, amazing, brilliant. 

Examples: 

I’m the youngest in my class. 

Mark is the tallest in the basketball team. 

This is the greatest book I’ve ever read. 

This painting is the most beautiful in the whole gallery. 

She is the most inspiring woman I’ve ever met. 

It’s his most brilliant work so far. 

As you can see in the examples above one thing (a painting, a woman, work) stands out from a group or period of time (the whole gallery, so far)

Learn the difference between comparative and superlative adjectives in English:

Comparative adjectives Superlative adjectives
Used when we compare two things.
Used to compare more than two things.
Form: more adjective /adjective -er + than
Form: the + superlative adjective
Examples:
Alice is better at French than her friend.
Travelling by plane is faster than travelling by car.
Your phone is more expensive than mine.
Examples:
Alice is the best at French in the class
Travelling by plane is the fastest way.
Your phone is the most expensive one.

Exercises on comparative adjectives

A Complete the sentences with the comparative form.

  1. The coffee is very weak. I would like it ______
  2. The car was very cheap. I expected it to be ______
  3. You are standing too near the door. Can you move a bit ____ away.
  4. Your project isn’t very good. I am sure you can do _____.
  5. School is a bit boring sometimes. I wish it was a bit ________.

B  Complete the sentences using the from “the… the….” with the verb in brackets.

  1. The warmer the weather, ____________(feel)
  2. The more tired you are, ______it is to concentrate. (hard)
  3. The more I eat, ______ I get(heavy)
  4. The longer she had to wait, ___________ she became.(impatient)

Games to practice the comparative

Here is a great game that you can play to practice comparative adjectives.

 

 

 

Exercises on the Active and Passive Voice