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What Are Comparatives? (with Examples)

What Are Comparatives? (with Examples)

A comparative is the form of adjective or adverb used to compare two things.

Examples of Comparatives

Here are some examples of comparatives (comparatives shaded):
  • Mark is taller.
  • (taller = comparative of the adjective tall)
  • Mark listens more attentively these days.
  • (more attentively = comparative of the adverb attentively)
  • When you hire people who are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are. (R H Grant)
  • (smarter = comparative of the adjective smart)
  • Nothing is impossible. Some things are just less likely than others. (Jonathan Winters)
  • (less likely = comparative of the adverb likely)

Forming Comparatives

Often, the comparative form of an adjective or adverb can be formed by adding the suffix -er or by placing more (or less) before.

Here are some examples:

ExampleWord TypeFormedComparative
smalladjectiveadd -ersmaller
quicklyadverbprecede with moremore quickly
quicklyadverbprecede with lessless quickly

However, it is a little more complicated than just adding -er or using more. The section on the right offers more detail on how to form comparatives.

Read more about forming the comparatives and superlatives of adjectives.
Read more about forming the comparatives and superlatives of adverbs.
Beware

Do Not Form Double Comparitives

Be careful not to form a so-called double comparative (e.g., by adding -er and using more). This is a grammatical howler. (It is more common in speech than in writing.) For example:
  • David is more taller.
  • He can run more faster.
  • She was more prettier.
As a comparative can also be formed by adding the word less, this mistake can be made with less too. For example:
  • David was less smarter than John.
Read more about forming the comparative forms of adjectives.
Quick Test
 
 
Beware

Don't Put Apostrophes in Absolute Possessives

  • These are her's.
  • Your's are bigger than our's.
  • Yours are bigger than ours.
Note

How to Form Comparatives (and Superlatives)

It makes sense to learn about comparatives and superlatives at the same time because they are both about making comparisons.

A comparative is known as the second or the middle degree of comparison (for adjectives and adverbs).
A superlative is known as the third or the highest degree of comparison (for adjectives and adverbs).

WordComparative
(or second degree of comparison)
Suplerlative
(or third degree of comparison)
When an adjective or an adverb ends with a single consonant, add er or est:
big
(adjective)
biggerbiggest
soon
(adverb)
soonersoonest
When an adjective or an adverb ends y, drop the y and add ier (for the comparative) and iest (for the superlative):
dry
(adjective)
drierdriest
silly
(adjective)
silliersilliest
early
(adverb)
earlierearliest
When an adjective or an adverb ends e, drop the e and add er (for the comparative) and est (for the superlative):
pale
(adjective)
palerpalest
free
(adverb)
freerfreest
When an adjective or an adverb has more than one syllable (but beware exceptions like silly and early), place more in front (for the comparative) and most in front (for the superlative):
attractive
(adjective)
more attractivemost attractive
angrily
(adverb)
more angrilymost angrily
There are a few irregular ones too. You just have to learn these. It's worth it. Most of them are very common words:
good
(adjective)
betterbest
bad
(adjective)
worseworst
well
(adverb)
betterbest
badly
(adverb)
worseworst
little
(adverb and adjective)
lessleast
much
(adverb and adjective)
moremost
far
(adverb and adjective)
farther or furtherfarthest or furthest