Three Degrees of Comparison

Today, we’re diving into the colourful world of adjectives! Adjectives are words that describe things, like big, small, funny, and boring. But did you know adjectives can change their form to compare things? That’s what we call the degrees of comparison. Let’s explore this together!

When we compare things, we can use three different forms of the same adjective.

♦ Aria is strong.
♦ Emily is stronger than Aria.
♦ Hannah is the strongest of the three.

This way of changing adjectives to show comparison is called comparison.

Three Degrees of Comparison

The degrees of comparison show how intense a quality is by changing the form of the adjective.

♦ For example, if something is good, it can be better or the best, showing different levels of goodness.

We can classify the degrees of comparison into three distinct forms —the positive, the comparative, and the superlative.

The Positive Degree

The positive degree represents the simplest form of an adjective, and it doesn’t require any special ending. It simply explains the quality of one thing, making no comparisons or implications.

♦ That is a sweet mango.
♦ She has a big house.

Using the example from above, the comparative degree of the adjective strong is strong.

♦ Aria is strong.

The positive degree is the starting point for making comparative and superlative forms.

The Comparison Degree

To make the comparative degree of an adjective, you add -er to the end of the basic form of the adjective or start with the word more. This shows that one thing has more of a certain quality than another thing. For example:

♦ If you have a tall brother and a taller sister, you can say,
My sister is taller than my brother.
♦ If one book is interesting and another is even more so, you say,
This book is more interesting than that one.

Using the example from above, the comparative degree of the adjective strong is stronger.

♦ Emily is stronger than Aria.

Rules to Remember:

To make it easier:
1. For short adjectives, just add ‘-er’ (fast becomes faster).
2. For longer adjectives, use ‘more’ before the adjective (beautiful becomes more beautiful).

The Superlative Degree

Superlative adjectives are used when you’re talking about more than two things and you wanna say who’s at the top or bottom or that one thing has the most of a certain quality compared to others. They usually end in ‘-est’ or start with ‘most.’ Here are some examples:

♦ Among all your friends, if Sam is the tallest, you say
Sam is the tallest of all my friends.
♦ If one movie is the most exciting out of all you’ve seen this year, you say,
That is the most exciting movie I’ve watched this year.

Using the example from above, the superlative degree of the adjective strong is strongest.

♦ Hannah is the strongest of the three.

Rules to Remember:

1. For short adjectives, add ‘-est’ (small becomes smallest).
2. For longer adjectives, use ‘most‘ before the adjective (comfortable becomes most comfortable).

More Examples

Other examples of the comparison of adjectives include:

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
strong stronger strongest
rich richer richest
poor poorer poorest
fast faster fastest
firm firmer firm

Spelling Rules

1. Adjectives with a silent e drop it before -er and -est.

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
wise wiser wisest
pure purer purest
handsome handsomer handsomest

2. Most adjectives that end in y change to I before -er and -est.

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
silky silkier silkiest
glossy glossier glossiest
sorry sorrier sorriest

3. If an adjective has a short vowel and ends in one consonant, double it before adding -er or -est.

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
sad sadder saddest
fit fitter fittest
big bigger biggest
red redder reddest
hot hotter hottest
dim dimmer dimmest

More on… More and Most

As noted earlier, we compare many adjectives by adding the words ‘more’ and ‘most’ before the basic form of the adjective. Usually with adjectives that have two syllables and most adjectives that have three or more syllables. For example:

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
recent more recent most recent
terrible more terrible most terrible
triumphant more triumphant most triumphant
economical more economical most economical

There are two ways to compare some adjectives. For example:

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
intense

intenser

more intense

intensest

most intense

profound

profounder

more profound

profoundest

most profound

sublime

sublimer

more sublime

sublimest

most sublime

unkind

unkinder

more unkind

unkindest

most unkind

Comparative Phrases

Use ‘less’ and ‘least’ to compare things that have different amounts of a certain quality. For example, if a shirt costs $20 and a jacket costs $50, you could say the shirt is “less expensive than” the jacket.
However, this is not really a form of comparison. ‘Superlative,’ which means the highest degree, doesn’t apply to ‘least terrible’ since it means having the least amount of that quality.

Irregular Comparison

Some adjectives don’t follow the rules and just change entirely when they become comparative or superlative. For example:

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
bad  worse worst
far farther farthest
further furthest
good better best
late later latest, last
little less, lesser least
much, many more most
well better
older

older

elder

oldest

eldest

near nearer nearest or next

A few superlatives end in -most. With these, one or both of the other degrees are commonly wanting.

 

Positive  Comparison  Superlative 
former foremost
hind hinder hindmost
inner inmost, innermost
out (adverb) outer outmost, outermost
out (adverb) utter utmost, uttermost
up (adverb) upper uppermost
endmost
nether nethermost
top

topmost

furthermost
north northmost
northern more northern nothernmost
south southmost
southern more southern southernmost
east, eastern more eastern easternmost
west, western more western westernmost
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Exercises for Degrees of Comparison

Take a moment to identify the positive, comparative, and superlative in the sentences below.

  1. The lake is deep, but the ocean is deeper.
  2. Of all the students, Mark is the tallest.
  3. This puzzle is easy; I can solve it quickly.
  4. Compared to jogging, yoga is more relaxing.
  5. This is the most delicious cake I’ve ever tasted!
  6. My garden is beautiful, but yours is more beautiful.
  7. He is the fastest runner in our school.
  8. This book is interesting, but that one is more interesting.
  9. Among all the seasons, spring is the most pleasant.
  10. This coffee is strong, but I need it stronger to stay awake.
  11. The Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
  12. This math problem is simple enough for anyone to solve.
  13. Her performance today was better than yesterday.
  14. This is the worst storm we’ve had all year.
  15. His approach is good, but it could be better.
  16. Of all the dishes here, this one is the least spicy.
  17. The movie was funny, but the book is even more hilarious.
  18. This is the most challenging task I’ve faced at work.
  19. That puppy looks cute, but this one is cuter.
  20. Among all the cookies here, this one is the crunchiest.
Click on the + button for the answers
  1. The lake is deep (Positive), but the ocean is deeper. (Comparative)
  2. Of all the students, Mark is the tallest. (Superlative)
  3. This puzzle is easy; I can solve it quickly. (Positive)
  4. Compared to jogging, yoga is more relaxing. (Comparative)
  5. This is the most delicious cake I’ve ever tasted! (Superlative)
  6. My garden is beautiful (Positive), but yours is more beautiful. (Comparative)
  7. He is the fastest runner in our school. (Superlative)
  8. This book is interesting (Positive), but that one is more interesting. (Comparative)
  9. Among all the seasons, spring is the most pleasant. (Superlative)
  10. This coffee is strong (Positive), but I need it stronger to stay awake. (Comparative)
  11. The Everest is the highest mountain in the world. (Superlative)
  12. This math problem is simple enough for anyone to solve. (Positive)
  13. Her performance today was better than yesterday. (Comparative)
  14. This is the worst storm we’ve had all year. (Superlative)
  15. His approach is good (Positive), but it could be better. (Comparative)
  16. Of all the dishes here, this one is the least spicy. (Superlative)
  17. The movie was funny (Positive), but the book is even more hilarious. (Comparative)
  18. This is the most challenging task I’ve faced at work. (Superlative)
  19. That puppy looks cute (Positive), but this one is cuter. (Comparative)
  20. Among all the cookies here, this one is the crunchiest. (Superlative)

Tips for Degrees of Comparison

  1. Positive Degree: Use it to describe one thing without comparing it to others
  2. Comparative Degree: Use it to compare two things. Often formed by adding “-er” to an adjective or using “more”
  3. Superlative Degree: Use it to compare three or more things. Formed by adding “-est” to an adjective or using “most” .
  4. Spelling Rules: When forming the comparative and superlative, remember spelling changes like doubling the final consonant in a short vowel-consonant pattern.
  5. Irregular Adjectives: Memorize irregular forms like “good,” “better,” “best.”
  6. Avoid Double Comparatives and Superlatives: Do not say “more better” or “most fastest.”
  7. Consistency in Comparisons: Make sure the items you are comparing are of the same type (e.g., comparing people with people, not people with objects).
  8. Use of ‘Than’ in Comparatives: Always use “than” to make comparisons between two things (e.g., “She is taller than her brother”).
  9. Limit Use of Most and Least: Use these with ungradable adjectives (adjectives that normally cannot be intensified, like “unique”).
  10. Consistent Use of More and Most: Use “more” and “most” with adjectives that have two or more syllables (not ended in “y”) and do not form their comparatives or superlatives with “-er” or “-est.”

Last Words on Degrees of Comparison

When using comparative and superlative adjectives, don’t get the forms mixed up. It’s super easy to accidentally say ‘more better’ or ‘most fastest,’ but they’re wrong because ‘better’ and ‘fastest’ already show comparison and superiority.
Remember the rules, and soon you’ll be a pro at describing and comparing everything around you!

Happy writing!

Linda

 

Feature Image by Iqbal Nuril Anwar from Pixabay.

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