Degrees of Comparison in English

Degrees of Comparison in English

Read the following sentences:
  1. John is tall.
  2. Peter is taller than John.
  3. Harry is the tallest of the three.
In sentence 1, the adjective tall merely says something about John’s height. It doesn’t state how tall John is. In sentence 2, the adjective taller is used to compare John’s height with Peter’s height. In sentence 3, the adjective tallest is used to compare Harry’s height with the height of John and Peter. We have thus seen that adjectives change in form to show comparison. These different forms of the adjective are called the degrees of comparison. In the examples given above, the adjective tall is said to be in the positive degree. The adjective taller is said to be in the comparative degree and the adjective tallest is said to be in the superlative degree. The positive degree of an adjective is the adjective in its simple form. It is used to denote the mere existence of some quality. Adjectives in the positive degree are used when no comparison is made. The comparative degree of an adjective shows a higher degree of the quality than that is present in the positive degree. It is used when two things or two sets of things are compared.
  • Peter is smarter than John.
  • Which of the two sisters is the prettier?
  • Apples are dearer than oranges.
The superlative degree of an adjective denotes the highest degree of the quality. It is used when more than two things or sets of things are compared.
  • Peter is the smartest boy in the class.
  • Iron is the most useful of all metals.
  • Alice is the prettiest girl in the neighborhood.
Comparison can be made using the three forms of the adjective. Adjective is a word and it qualifies a noun. It gives more information about the noun. eg. The lion is a strong animal. Rita is a beautiful girl. Adjectives are of three degrees. (1) Positive (2) Comparative (3) Superlative eg. David is a rich man. eg. Cancel is more dreadful than cholera. eg. Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world. Study the following models.
Positive Comparative Superlative
Very few boys in the class are as tall as John. John is taller than any other boys in the class. John is the tallest boy in the class.
John is taller than most other boys in the class. John is one of the tallest boy in the class.
Adjective and Adverbs have three degrees, Positive, Comparative and Superlative. The Pasitive Degree is used to denote the mere existence of quality.

The Positive Degree of an adjective in comparison is the adjective in its simple form. It is used to denote the mere existence of some quality of what we speak about. It is used when no comparison is made.

  • It is a tall building.
  • Apple is sweet to taste.
The Comparative Degree is used to compare the qualities of two persons or things.

The Comparative Degree denotes the existence of a higher degree of the quality than the positive. It is used when two things (or two sets of things) are compared.

  • This building is taller than any other building.
  • Apple is sweeter than pear.

The Superlative Degree denotes the existence of the highest degree of the quality. It is used when more than two things are compared.

  • This is the tallest building.
  • Apple is the sweetest fruit.
The Superlative Degree is used when more than two nouns or things are compared.
  • Johnsy is kind (Positive Degree)
  • Johnsy is kinder than Rosy (Comparative Degree)
  • Johnsy is the kindest of all (Superlative Degree)
By adding ‘er’ and ‘est’
bright brighter brightest
black blacker blackest
bold bolder boldest
clever cleverer cleverest
cold colder coldest
fast faster fastest
great greater greatest
high higher highest
kind kinder kindest
long longer longest
small smaller smallest
strong stronger strongest
sweet sweeter sweetest
tall taller tallest
young younger youngest
By adding ‘r’ and ‘st’
brave braver bravest
fine finer finest
large larger largest
nice nicer nicest
noble nobler noblest
pale paler palest
simple simpler simplest
wise wiser wisest
white whiter whitest
By deleting the final ‘y’ and adding ‘ier’ and ‘iest’
costly costlier costliest
dry drier driest
easy easier easiest
happy happier happiest
heavy heavier heaviest
lazy lasier lasiest
mercy mercier merciest
wealthy wealthier wealthiest
By doubling the final consonats
big bigger biggest
dim dimmer dimmest
fat fatter fattest
hot hotter hottest
thin thinner thinnest
By using more and most
active more active most active
attractive more attractive most attractive
beautiful more beautiful most beautiful
brilliant more brilliant most brilliant
careful more careful most careful
courageous more courageous most courageous
cunning more cunning most cunning
difficult more difficult most difficult
famous more famous most famous
faithful more faithful most faithful
proper more proper most proper
popular more popular most popular
splendid more splendid most splendid
Irregular Comparisons
bad worse worst
evil worse worst
good better best
ill worse worst
far farther farthest
well better best
late later latest
little less least
much more most
many more most
near nearer nearest
old older oldest
old elder eldest
Comparison between two things.
Positive Comparative
Johnsy is as clever as Rosy Rosy is not clever than Johnsy
Benjamin is atleast as tall as Jane Jane is not taller than Benjamin
Comparative Positive
Lazar is brighter than Stalin Stalin is not so bright as Lazar
Superlative Comparative Positive
Akthar is the richest man in Kanpur Akthar is richer than any other man in Kanpur No other man in Kanpur is so rich as Akthar
Superlative Comparative Positive
London is one of the biggest city in England London is bigger than most other city in England Very few cities in England are so big as London
Superlative Comparative Positive
Sheakespear is the greatest of all dramatists Shakespeare is greater than all other dramatists No other dramatist is so great as Shakespeare
Positive Comparative
Lazar is as strong as Lenin Lenin is not less strong than Lazar
Positive Comparative Superlative
Some boys in our class are at least as intelligent as Benjamin Some boys in our class are not intelligent than Benjamin Benjamin is not the most intelligent boy in our class
1. When we compare two objects, persons, qualities, degrees etc. tha tare some respects equal, we may use the comparion of equality. This is formed by the use of as… adjective / adverb… as eg. Your house is as large as mine. 2. When we compare unquals, we may use the comparative degree of the adjective or adverb with than eg. His new book is more interesting than his earlier books 3. When the comparison is negative, we use so… adjective / adverb… as eg. Your house is not quite so large as mine. 4. In some adverbial clauses of comparison both subject and verb are dropped. eg. He is more shy than (he is) unsocial. Some people think more about their rights than (they do) about their duties. 5. In clauses of comparison introduced by than that ‘should’ is used. eg. I am already to do the work myself rather than that you should have to do it. 6.Comparison and contrast are also expressed by the use of the…the…with comparatives. eg. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish. The more he read, the less he understood.
Superlative Comparative Positive
Iron is the most useful of all metals. Iron is more useful than any other metal. No other metal is so useful as iron.
Superlative Comparative Positive
Tom is the cleverest of all boys in the class. Tom is cleverer than any other boy in the class. No other boy in the class is so clever as Tom.
Superlative Comparative Positive
Rain water is the purest water. Rain water is purer than any other water. No other water is so pure as rain water.
Superlative Comparative Positive
Paris is one of the busiest cities in England. Paris is busier than most other cities in England. Very few cities in England are as busy as Paris.
Positive Comparative Superlative
Very few animals are as fast as cheetah. Cheetah is faster than most other animals. Cheetah is one of the fastest animals.
Superlative Comparative Positive
Food ball is one of the most interesting games. Foot ball is more interesting than most other games. Very few games are as interesting as foot ball.
Comparative Positive
Paris is hotter than England. England is not so hot as Paris.
Positive Comparative
John is as tall as David. David is not taller than John.
Comparative Positive
The Blue Mountain Express runs faster than the Green Express. The Green Express does not run so fast as the Blue Mountain Express.
Degrees of Comparison in English

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