This is a lesson on comparatives and superlatives. It includes the forms “as… as” and “the… the”. The exercises for this topic are here. There is a classroom presentation version of this lesson in the Materials tab above. This lesson is part of a complete Intermediate English Course.
We use comparatives to compare one or more things to other things. To compare two or more things we use the word than between them.
To change regular adjectives into comparative adjectives just ad -er at the end of the word. This table gives some examples of common regular comparative adjectives.
|Example sentence with comparative form
|The moon is smaller than the Earth.
|My brother is taller than me.
|We are poorer than our neighbours.
|Our neighbours are richer than us.
|This exam is harder than the last exam.
|Cotton is softer than stone.
Not all comparative adjectives are regular. Some need a little modification.
Sometimes we need to double a consonant;
|Example sentence with irregular comparative form with doubled consonant
|Spain is bigger than England.
|Mark is thinner than Tom.
|Tom is fatter than Mark.
|Spain is hotter than England.
|England is wetter than Spain.
|The English tourists are redder than the locals.
|Holland is flatter than Spain.
Sometimes we remove -y and add -ier
|Example sentence with irregular comparative form with -ier
|I am happier on holiday than I am at work.
|My son is greedier than my daughter, he always eats too much!
|Elementary English is easier than advanced English.
|This comedy is finnier than the news.
|stones are heavier than cotton.
|Mondays are busier than Sundays.
To make comparatives from longer adjectives, adjectives ending in -ed or adverbs with – ly use “more / less ___”
|Barcelona is more beautiful in the summer than in the winter.
|Mosquitos are more dangerous than most flies.
|This book is more interesting than the last one I read.
|I drive more slowly than Tom.
|Some people are more easily offended than others.
|He writes more carefully now than he did last year.
|I’m more tired today than I was yesterday.
|The kids were more bored in class than in the playground.
Sometimes the comparative is completely irregular;
|Irregular comparative adjective
|Example sentence using irregular comparative adjective.
|This film is better than the last one.
|The last film was worse than this one.
|I have to travel further to work than my sister.
We can modify comparative adjectives to give more detail about how big or small the difference is.
Another way of comparing things uses a form “as [adjective / adverb] as”.
This form is usually negative, to say that things are not the same.
I am not as tall as my brother, he is taller than me
If you use this form without “not” it means that the things compared are the same.
it is as hot as it was yesterday, the temperature is exactly the same.
TRAP: Be careful not to use the comparative adjective form with this form. Many students say “I am as older as my bother”. This is not correct, just use the normal adjective or adverb form.
To express that a change is continuous we can use a form where we repeat the adjective or adverb.
If I am blowing up a balloon, as it gradually gets bigger I could say that…
The balloon is getting bigger and bigger.
When dealing with the “more...” form of a comparative, we can just repeat the “more” part and not the adjective.
If I go to a restaurant three times and each time, the same food costs more money, I can say that…
This restaurant is getting more and more expensive.
Here are some more examples of this form
When we are expressing that a change in one thing causes or is related to a change in another thing, we can use the form “The [comparative adjective / adverb]… the [comparative adjective / adverb]…”
If I am paid by the hour. If I work more hours, I will earn more money. I could express this as…
The more I work, the more I earn.
Note the word order here! Here are some more examples of this form.
We use a superlative adjective to say that something is more extreme in a characteristic than other things.
For short adjectives use
Superlatives use the definite article “the”.
For longer adjectives, adjectives ending in -ed or adverbs ending in -ly use
The most / least ______
Some adjectives are completely irregular in the superlative
Looking at the balls again, we can say that;
the football is bigger than the tennis ball.
The tennis ball is smaller than the football.
The tennis ball isn’t as big as the football.
The beach ball is the biggest. The tennis ball is the smallest.
Use these exercises to check that you have understood this topic.