Understanding Adverbs and Degrees of Comparison

Hey there, grammar enthusiasts! We’re diving into the world of adverbs and degrees of comparison. It might sound a bit complicated, but don’t worry. We’ll break it down step by step.

To begin, let’s have a quick refresher on adverbs. Adverbs are words that describe or give more information about verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They often tell us how, when, where, or why something happens.

♦ She sings beautifully. (How does she sing?)
♦ They arrived yesterday. (When did they arrive?)
♦ The cat is outside. (Where is the cat?)
♦ He always forgets his keys. (How often does he forget?)

It is important to place adverbs as close as possible to the word they modify.

Degrees of Comparison

Now, let’s talk about degrees of comparison. These help us compare actions or qualities. Like adjectives, adverbs have three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative, and superlative.

Positive Degree

The positive degree is the basic form of the adverb. It simply describes the action with no comparison. Use the positive degree when no comparison is made. Examples:

♦ She runs fast.
♦ He plays the piano beautifully.
♦ She dances gracefully.
♦ She sings beautifully

Comparative Degree

The comparative degree is used to compare two actions such as persons or things. We usually add ‘-er‘ to short adverbs or use ‘more‘ before longer adverbs. Use the comparative degree when comparing two actions or qualities.

♦ She runs faster than her brother.
♦ He plays the piano more beautifully than his friend.
♦ She dances more gracefully than her sister
♦ She sings more beautifully than before

Rules to Remember:

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

Superlative Degree

The superlative degree is used to compare three or more actions or qualities. We add ‘-est’ to short adverbs or use ‘most’ before longer adverbs. Examples:

♦ She runs the fastest in her class.
♦ He plays the piano the most beautifully of all the contestants.
♦ She dances the most gracefully of all the performers
♦ He runs the fastest on the team

Sometimes we use the superlative for emphasis, suggesting no specific comparison.

♦ Most potent, grave, and reverend…—Shakspere.
♦ Justice had been most cruelly defrauded.—Wordsworth.

Using this structure too much (like saying ‘very’ a lot) gets boring and weakens your writing. Double comparisons (like ‘more worthier’ or ‘most unkindest’) were common in old English, but now they are big mistakes.

Rules to Remember:

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

More Examples

Here are a few more examples.

Positive Comparative Superlative
near nearer

nearest

soon sooner soonest
cheap cheaper cheapest
dear dearer dearest
early earlier earliest
hard harder hardest
high higher highest
long longer longest
loud louder loudest
quick quicker quickest
slow slower slowest
deep deeper deepest

Spelling Rules

Dropping the Final ‘e’

When an adverb ends in ‘e,’ drop the ‘e’ before adding ‘-er’ or ‘-est’:

♦ positive: wide
♦ comparative: wider
♦ superlative: widest

Doubling the Final Consonant

When an adverb has a single vowel followed by a single consonant, double the final consonant before adding ‘-er’ or ‘-est’:

♦ positive: big
♦ comparative: bigger
♦ superlative: biggest

Adverbs with ‘y’

When an adverb ends in ‘y,’ change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ before adding ‘-er’ or ‘-est’:

♦ positive: happy
♦ comparative: happier
♦ superlative: happiest

Irregular Comparison

Several adverbs have irregular comparison.

Positive Comparative Superlative
far farther fartest
bad worse worst
well better best
later later latest or last
little less least
much more most

Most of the time, adverbs look the same as adjectives. But, keep in mind:
1. The words ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are never used as adverbs.
2. The words ‘well,’ ‘better’ and ‘best,’ ‘worse’ and ‘worst’ have the flexibility to function as both adverbs and adjectives.
3. Rather is solely used for making comparisons.

Other Factors

There are other factors to consider such as:

Using More with Than

When comparing two adjectives or adverbs using ‘than,’ you use ‘more’ with the first one.

♦ It’s more kind than wise.
♦ This plan is more clever than honest.
♦ He acts more boldly than discreetly.

Note: You can also use ‘rather’ with the first adjective or adverb (like ‘rather kind than wise’ or ‘kind rather than wise’), but it means something slightly different.

Avoid Redundancy

Don’t add ‘more’ or ‘most’ to adverbs that already have comparative or superlative forms.

♦ not ‘more better’ but ‘better’

No Comparisons

It is not possible to compare certain adjectives and adverbs due to their specific meanings. These include:

1. Adjectives that describe something as being complete or absolute, and the adverbs that come from those adjectives. For example:

♦ unique
♦ universal
♦ single
♦ matchless
♦ instantaneous
♦ triangular
♦ everlasting
♦ infinite
♦ mortal
♦ uniquely
♦ singly
♦ eternally
♦ mortally

2. Adverbs like here, there, then, now, and similar words.

Note: People often think words like perfect, exact, and straight can’t be compared, but that’s not true.

For example, when ‘perfect’ means absolute perfection, it can’t be compared. But ‘perfect’ can also mean having a higher or lower degree of the qualities that make something perfect.

So, we can say one statue is more perfect than another, or one of three statues is the most perfect. This just means that nothing is truly flawless, and we’re saying that these statues come close to being perfect in different ways.

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Exercises for Adverbs and Degrees of Comparison

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

  1. She sings more beautifully than her friend.
  2. He ran fast.
  3. They danced the most gracefully of all.
  4. She speaks the most clearly in the class.
  5. The athlete performed better than expected.
  6. He acted bravely.
  7. She finished her homework more quickly than her brother.
  8. The dog barked the most loudly of all.
  9. He solved the puzzle easily.
  10. She played the violin more skillfully than her peers.
  11. He climbed the mountain the most carefully of all.
  12. They waited more patiently than the others.
  13. She smiled warmly.
  14. He answered the question more correctly than his classmates.
  15. The sun shone the most brightly of all.
  16. She laughed more joyfully than her friends.
  17. He worked harder than his colleagues.
  18. She listened more attentively than the others.
  19. The child behaved worse than his friends.
  20. She painted the picture the nicest of all.
Click on the + button for the answers
  1. She sings more beautifully than her friend. (comparative)
  2. He ran fast. (positive)
  3. They danced the most gracefully of all. (superlative)
  4. She speaks the most clearly in the class. (superlative)
  5. The athlete performed better than expected. (comparative)
  6. He acted bravely. (positive)
  7. She finished her homework more quickly than her brother. (comparative)
  8. The dog barked the most loudly of all. (superlative)
  9. He solved the puzzle easily. (positive)
  10. She played the violin more skillfully than her peers. (comparative)
  11. He climbed the mountain the most carefully of all. (superlative)
  12. They waited more patiently than the others. (comparative)
  13. She smiled warmly. (positive)
  14. He answered the question more correctly than his classmates. (comparative)
  15. The sun shone the most brightly of all. (superlative)
  16. She laughed more joyfully than her friends. (comparative)
  17. He worked harder than his colleagues. (comparative)
  18. She listened more attentively than the others. (comparative)
  19. The child behaved worse than his friends. (comparative)
  20. She painted the picture the nicest of all. (superlative)

Ten Tips for Adverbs and Degrees of Comparisons

1. Understand the Basics: Know that adverbs describe how, when, where, and to what extent something happens.
2. Identify the Positive Degree: The positive degree is the base form of the adverb
3. Forming the Comparative Degree: For short adverbs, add ‘-er’ (. For longer adverbs, use ‘more’ before the adverb.
4. Forming the Superlative Degree: For short adverbs, add ‘-est’. For longer adverbs, use ‘most’ before the adverb.
5. Short Adverbs: Use ‘-er’ and ‘-est’ for adverbs with one syllable.

6. Long Adverbs: Use ‘more’ and ‘most’ for adverbs with two or more syllables
7. Irregular Adverbs: Some adverbs have irregular forms.
8. Avoid Double Comparisons: Don’t use double comparative forms.
9. Use Comparisons to Show Improvement: Use comparative forms to show improvement or change.
10. Use Superlatives for Extremes: Use superlative forms to show the highest degree.

Last Words on Adverbs and Degrees of Comparisons

Adverbs and degrees of comparison might seem tricky at first, but with a bit of practice, you’ll get the hang of it Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be using adverbs like a grammar expert!

Happy writing!

Linda

 

Feature Image by chitsu san from Pixabay

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