Comparatives and Superlatives.

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.

  • My brother is taller than me, but I am older than him.
  • This restaurant is more expensive than the other one.
  • It’s hotter today than it was yesterday.

Regular Comparative Adjectives

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.

An image of two balls with a caption explaining that the football is bigger than the tennis ball to illustrate comparative forms in English grammar.
AdjectiveComparative adjectiveExample sentence with comparative form
smallsmallerThe moon is smaller than the Earth.
talltallerMy brother is taller than me.
poorpoorerWe are poorer than our neighbours.
richricherOur neighbours are richer than us.
hardharderThis exam is harder than the last exam.
softsofterCotton is softer than stone.

Regular Comparative Adjectives with Doubled Consonants

Not all comparative adjectives are regular. Some need a little modification.

Sometimes we need to double a consonant;

AdjectiveComparative adjectiveExample sentence with irregular comparative form with doubled consonant
bigbiggerSpain is bigger than England.
thinthinnerMark is thinner than Tom.
fatfatterTom is fatter than Mark.
hothotterSpain is hotter than England.
wetwetterEngland is wetter than Spain.
redredderThe English tourists are redder than the locals.
flatflatterHolland is flatter than Spain.

Regular Comparative Adjectives with -ier

Sometimes we remove -y and add -ier

AdjectiveComparative adjectiveExample sentence with irregular comparative form with -ier
HappyHappierI am happier on holiday than I am at work.
greedygreedierMy son is greedier than my daughter, he always eats too much!
EasyeasierElementary English is easier than advanced English.
funnyfunnierThis comedy is finnier than the news.
heavyheavierstones are heavier than cotton.
busybusierMondays are busier than Sundays.

When to use “More… “

To make comparatives from longer adjectives, adjectives ending in -ed or adverbs with – ly use “more / less ___”

beautifulmore beautifulBarcelona is more beautiful in the summer than in the winter.
dangerousmore dangerousMosquitos are more dangerous than most flies.
interestingmore interestingThis book is more interesting than the last one I read.
slowlymore slowlyI drive more slowly than Tom.
easilymore easilySome people are more easily offended than others.
carefullymore carefullyHe writes more carefully now than he did last year.
tiredmore tiredI’m more tired today than I was yesterday.
boredmore boredThe kids were more bored in class than in the playground.

Irregular Comparatives

Sometimes the comparative is completely irregular;

AdjetiveIrregular comparative adjectiveExample sentence using irregular comparative adjective.
goodbetterThis film is better than the last one.
badworseThe last film was worse than this one.
farfurtherI have to travel further to work than my sister.

Modifying Comparative Adjectives

We can modify comparative adjectives to give more detail about how big or small the difference is.

  • He is much older than his brother.
  • We are nowhere near as rich as you.
  • She is far less interested in the film than he is.
  • This bag is a little heavier than the other one.
  • The job is significantly harder than we anticipated.
  • They are far cheaper than the competitors.

….as …as

An image of two balls with a caption explaining that the tennis ball isn't as big as the football to illustrate comparative forms in English grammar.

Another way of comparing things uses a form “as [adjective / adverb] as”.

  • I’m not as young as I used to be!
  • This hotel isn’t as nice as the other hotel.
  • This food is as good as the food in that expensive restaurant.
  • She doesn’t play as aggressively as he does.”

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.

Continuous Change with Comparatives.

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

  • This problem is getting bigger and bigger.
  • the festival is more and more popular every year.
  • This film gets better and better.
  • The situation is getting worse and worse.
  • The days are getting longer and longer.
  • My patience is getting thinner and thinner.

The… the…

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.

  • The less I sleep, the more tired I feel.
  • The more news I read, the more depressed I am.
  • The more I buy, the less I save.
  • The older I get, the grumpier I become.
  • The less I go out, the paler I look.
  • The more music I make, the more ideas I have.
  • The more time I spend with him, the more I understand his perspective.
  • The more I read about it the less enthusiastic I am.
  • The more time I spend working on this tune the more I dislike it.
  • The less I sleep, the worse I feel.


An image of three balls with a caption explaining that the beach ball the biggest among the beach ball, the tennis ball and the football to illustrate superlative forms in English grammar.

We use a superlative adjective to say that something is more extreme in a characteristic than other things.

  • August is the hottest month in Barcelona.
  • Madrid is the biggest city in Spain.
  • Everest is the tallest mountain in the world

For short adjectives use

The _____+est

  • The tallest
  • The smallest
  • The richest

Superlatives use the definite article “the”.

For longer adjectives, adjectives ending in -ed or adverbs ending in -ly use 

The most / least ______

  • The most beautiful
  • The least complicated
  • The most tired
  • The most beautifully
  • The most realistically.

Some adjectives are completely irregular in the superlative

  • Good – The best
  • Bad – The worst
  • Far – The furthest / the farthest

In conclusion: Putting it all together

An image shows a football and a tennis ball with the text "The football is bigger than the tennis ball." and "The tennis ball isn't as big as the football" to illustrate comparative forms in English grammar. This image is useful for teaching ESL.

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.