English grammar

Module 5, Modifiers: Adjectives and Adverbs, Lesson 10:

Comparing with Adjectives and Adverbs

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English grammar

We often use adjectives and adverbs to compare. There are three degrees of comparison, positive (or negative), comparative, and superlative.

Definition:
If you are talking about only one thing, you can't really compare, but if the word modified possesses that characteristic, it is used in the positive. If it is a negative characteristic, it is in the negative.
I am old.
You are young.
Definition:
If you are comparing two things, you must use the comparative (compare) form or degree.
I am older than my brother.
You are younger than your sister.
Definition:
If you are comparing more than two things, you must use the superlative (super) form or degree.
I am the eldest of three sisters.
You are the youngest person in your family.
Hint:
Superman is the strongest. Superlative means the best.

Forming Degrees of Comparison

Positives Comparative Superlative
One syllable adjectives and adverbs add suffix er
bigger, older, newer
add suffix est
biggest, oldest, newest
Two syllable adjectives
(Check a dictionary if you aren't sure.)
some (including ones ending in y, ow, le) add suffix er
sillier, quieter, politer
add suffix est
silliest, quietest, politest
some (including ones ending in ful) use more
more often, more careful
use most
most often, most careful
some can either add suffix er or use more
heavier or more heavy
cleverer or more clever
can either add suffix est or use most
heaviest or most heavy
cleverest or most clever
Two syllable adverbs use more
more quickly
use most
most quickly
Three syllable adjectives and adverbs use more
more incredible
use most
most incredible
 
Negatives Comparative Superlative
all adjectives and adverbs use less
less friendly
use least
least friendly
Hint:
When you are comparing one thing to the group, you can use the words other or else in your writing or in your mind to clarify what you are comparing.

James is taller than any boy in his class. (Is it comparative or superlative?)
James is taller than any other boy in his class. (It is clearly comparative.)

Michelle is a better artist than anyone in her art class. (Which is it?)
Michelle is a better artist than anyone else in her art class. (Clearly superlative.)

Hint:
Watch out for adjectives and adverbs that share the same root. They are not the same word.
careful, more careful, most careful
carefully, more carefully, most carefully

Spelling changes

One syllable adjectives with a short vowel before a single consonant usually double the consonant before adding the suffixes.

big - bigger, biggest; mad - madder, maddest

One syllable adjectives that end in silent e or two syllable words that end in le do not double the e.

cute - cuter, cutest; little - littler, littlest

When adding suffixes er and est to words ending in y, you must change the y to an i before adding the suffix.

merry - merrier, merriest; friendly - friendlier, friendliest

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar

Part 1: Choosing Degrees of Comparison

Directions:
Decide whether the missing word needs to be positive/negative, comparative, or superlative.
1.
Of the two toppings, I like pepperoni .
positive / comparative / superlative
2.
This painting is than that one.
positive / comparative / superlative
3.
Those palm trees are very .
positive / comparative / superlative
4.
Of all my friends, she is the .
positive / comparative / superlative
5.
Lydia's car is the of its kind.
positive / comparative / superlative
6.
Mark is the of the two brothers.
positive / comparative / superlative
7.
I think Joe is the boy in the world.
positive / comparative / superlative
8.
Those rockets are .
positive / comparative / superlative
9.
Today is than yesterday was.
positive / comparative / superlative
10.
The hurricane so far this year hit Florida.
positive / comparative / superlative

Part 2: Choosing the Correct Forms

Directions:
Click on the correct modifier to complete each sentence.
11.
Anna needs more sunscreen than Megan because she is fair/fairer/fairest than her sister.
12.
Darius is the tall/taller/tallest boy on the basketball team.
13.
That baseball narrowly/more narrowly/most narrowly missed hitting the coach.
14.
The cheetah is the fast/faster/fastest land animal.
15.
My team is working quickly/more quickly/most quickly than your team.
16.
After studying world religions, I am now ignorant/less ignorant/least ignorant than I was before.
17.
Studies found that students who did not gossip were the popular/more popular/most popular in high school.
18.
I didn't expect today's weather to be so cool/cooler/coolest.
19.
After surgery, Nathan raised his arm weakly/more weakly/most weakly than we expected.
20.
That is the slow/slower/slowest I have ever seen you move.

Part 3: Spelling Modifiers of Comparison

Directions:
Choose the correct form of the modifier. Use a dictionary if you need to. For words that can go either way, er/est is the better choice.
21.
thankful - thankfuller/thankfullest or more thankful/most thankful
22.
loyal - loyaler/loyalest or more loyal/most loyal
23.
soft - softer/softest or more soft/most soft
24.
graceful - gracefuler/gracefulest or more graceful/most graceful
25.
simple - simpler/simplest or more simple/most simple
26.
careful - carefuller/carefullest or more careful/most careful
27.
happy - happier/happiest or more happy/most happy
28.
beautiful - beautifuller/beautifullest or more beautiful/most beautiful
29.
immense - immenser/immensest or more immense/most immense
30.
prickly - pricklier/prickliest or more prickly/most prickly
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