Sometimes we need to compare people, places, or things. When we compare two people, places, or things, we use the comparative. When we compare three or more, we use the superlative. In this posting I talk about how to form and use the comparative and superlative. There will be many example sentences. The download at the end will give you additional practice using the comparative and superlative to compare.
Here is the video lesson on Comparing in English:
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How to compare using the comparative
When we compare two people, places, or things, one is often older, larger, or more expensive than the other. We use the comparative with an adjective to describe these two things. Here is the formula we use when the adjective is a short word–only one or two syllables:
adjective + er + than
If the adjective is a longer word–three or more syllables, use the following formula:
more (or less) + adjective + than
We can also add the word much for emphasis.
Some exceptions when we compare two things.
Here are a few exceptions when we use the comparative to compare two things:
fun–more fun than (even though fun has only one syllable)
Asking a question when we need to compare two things
Use the following formula when ask a question and need to compare two things. This formula is for a sentence with a short adjective:
Wh word + verb + adjective + er
We use this formula when we compare two things and have a longer adjective:
Wh word + verb + more + adjective
How to compare using the superlative
When we compare three or more people, places, or things, one is usually the biggest, the oldest, or the most interesting one. When we compare in this way, we use the superlative. Use this formula when comparing three or more things and a short (one syllable) adjective:
the + adjective + est
For longer adjectives (three or more syllables), use this formula:
the + most (or least) + adjective
How to compare three or more things in the plural using the superlative
Sometimes we compare things in the plural. For example, we know that there are many large cities in the world. Mexico City is one large city among many. It is only one city. It may not be the largest city in the world, but we know it is larger than many big cities. This is the formula we use:
one of the + adjective or one of the + most + adjective + plural noun
Some exceptions when we compare using the superlative
Here are some exceptions when we use the superlative to compare three or more things:
good–better than–the best
bad–worse than–the worst
far–farther than–the farthest
fun–more fun than–the most fun
How to ask a question when you need to compare with the superlative
When we compare and need to ask a question using the superlative, use one of these formulas:
Wh word + the + adjective +est
Wh word + the most + adjective
Wh word + one of the + adjective or Wh word + one of the most + adjective
How to compare when all things are equal
Sometimes we compare things and find that they are equal. When this happens, we use the following formula:
as + adjective + as
You now know how to compare two things, or three or more things using the comparative and superlative. We use the comparative to compare two things. We add er to the adjective plus the word the word than. If the adjective is a longer word, we say more plus the adjective. We use the superlative to compare three or more things. We say the, plus the adjective, followed by est. For a longer adjective, we say the most plus the adjective. When we compare a plural noun using the superlative, we say one of the plus the adjective, or one of the most plus the adjective, plus the plural noun. When two things are the same, we say as, plus the adjective , plus as. The download below will give you additional practice using the comparative and superlative.
Idioms of the Day
- to turn over a new leaf — This means to make a change for the better. Martin was late for work everyday, and the boss told him he was going to fire him. So Martin has turned over a new leaf. He comes to work on time every day.
- under the weather — This means to feel sick. I need to see a doctor. I’ve been under the weather for two weeks and I’m not getting any better.