ENGLISHMiscellaneous English Grammar

Comparison of Adjectives

Comparison of Adjectives

Degrees of some Adjectives

Positive Degree Comparative Degree Superlative Degree 
Bad/Ill/Evil Worse Worst
Far Farther Farthest (of distance only)
Far Further Furthest (other than distances)
Fore Former Foremost/First
Little Less/Lesser Least
Many/Much More Must
Old Elder Eldest (of people only)
Old Older Oldest (of people and things)
Dark Darker Darkest
Good/Well Better Best
Useful More Useful Most Useful
Able Abler Ablest
Brave Braver Bravest
Fine Finer Finest
Noble Nobler Noblest
True Truer Truest
Sad Sadder Saddest
Wet Wetter Wettest
Pretty Prettier Prettiest
Merry Merrier Merriest
Late (time) Later Latest
Late (position) latter Latest
Near Nearer Nearest/Next

1. Comparison with Positive Degrees

The Positive Degree of an adjective is the adjective in its simplest form. It is used to say the mere existence of some quality. Normally, it is used when no comparison is made. But sometimes we use it to compare two people or things to tell equality/inequality of a quality denoted by the adjective.

With the positive form of the adjective we make comparison of people and things in the following manner:

i) Comparison in the affirmative We use AS — AS
ii) Comparison in the negative We use ‘AS – AS’ or ‘So – AS’

a) Raman is as tall as his father.
b) She is as beautiful as her sister.
c) Manslaughter is not as bad as murder.
= Manslaughter is not so bad as murder.

INCORRECT: Seema is as taller as Ritu.
CORRECT: Seema is as tall as Ritu.

INCORRECT: Rina is as more beautiful as her mother.
CORRECT: Rina is as beautiful as her mother.

INCORRECT: Rahul is not so cleverer as Ramesh.
CORRECT: Rahul is not so clever as Ramesh.

2. Comparison with Comparative Degrees

A) The comparative degree of an adjective denotes a higher degree of the quality than the positive, and we use it when we compare two persons or things. While comparing with the comparative degree we use THAN; e.g.

a) Rohit is taller than his father.
b) She makes fewer mistakes than I.
c) He is stronger than I expected.
d) That bed sheet was more expensive than I thought.

NOTE-I: There is another way in which we can compare things. Instead of saying ‘Rohan is stronger than Ankit. we can say ‘Ankit is less strong than Rohan’.

NOTE-II: The Comparative in ‘er’ is not used when we compare two qualities in the same person or thing, instead we use MORE + POSITIVE DEGREE. If we wish to say that the courage of Rohan is greater than the courage of Ankit, we say Rohan is braver than Ankit. But if we wish to say that the courage of Rohan is greater than his carefulness, we must say, Rohan is more brave than careful.

One more example
She is more wise than beautiful.

B) Reduced forms after comparatives
Impersonal subjects, or helping verbs with passive verb are not often repeated after THAN in comparisons; e.g.

a) The company profit is better than predicted.
b) Rains this year are higher than previously recorded.

C) When we compare a person or thing with all others of the same kind using a comparative degree, we must exclude the former from them. We do this by using ANY OTHER; e.g.

INCORRECT: Delhi is bigger than any city.
CORRECT: Delhi is bigger than any other city.

NOTE: If things are not of the same kind we use ANY (not ANY OTHER); e.g.

a) Gold is more precious than any other metal. (GOLD is a metal.)
b) Diamond is more precious than any metal. (Diamond is not a metal, it’s a stone rather.)

D) Certain English Comparatives are not used in comparative degrees, they are used as Positive Degree only. They cannot be followed by THAN. Some of them are:

Former Elder Exterior Interior Inner
Outer Latter Upper Utter Minor
Major Ulterior

a) The inner circle is not open for general public for a while.
b) His elder sister is so beautiful.
c) You are an utter fool.
d) The soldiers ran to defend the outer wall.
e) This is just a minor injury.

NOTE-I: We must not convert these adjectives in comparative or superlative by adding MORE or MOST; e.g.

INCORRECT: Yours is one of the most major mistakes.
CORRECT: Yours is a major mistake.

NOTE-II: Adjectives Minor, Major, Interior are also used as singular countable nouns; e.g.

a) He is a minor. (a person under age)
b) He is a major. (in the military rank)
c) The interior of my room is beautifully decorated.

E) Some of the adjectives take TO (not THAN) in comparison. They all end in IOR, and are seven in number; e.g.

Inferior Superior Prior Anterior
Posterior Senior Junior

a) These mangoes are not inferior to those in quality.
b) My appointment was prior to my father’s promotion.
c) She is junior to me.

NOTE-I: All the above adjectives are used as positive degree also; e.g.

a) She is a senior doctor.
b) My brother is a junior engineer.

NOTE-II: Adjectives Senior, Junior, Superior, Inferior are also used as singular countable nouns; e.g.

a) Mr Gupta is my senior.
b) We must respect our seniors.

NOTE-III: We must not convert them in comparative or superlative by adding MORE or MOST; e.g.

INCORRECT: She is two years more senior to you.
CORRECT: She is two years senior to you.

INCORRECT: He is the most senior employee here in this office.
CORRECT: He is a senior employee here in this office.

F) Some of the adjectives can’t be compared because they themselves convey meaning of the superlative degree. Such adjectives are called Degreeless Adjectives. Some of those adjectives are:

annual blind circular complete
empty excellent extreme full
golden ideal lunar major
milky parallel perfect round
spherical square triangular universal
unique unmatched unparalleled whole

Remember a thing cannot be more square, more round, more perfect.

INCORRECT: This is one of the most major problems.
CORRECT: This is one of the major problems.

NOTE: Though Complete, Full, Perfect are degreeless adjectives, they can be used in comparative and superlative degrees sometimes. In such cases the comparative and the superlative form indicate approach towards the absolute; e.g.

a) He wrote the most complete report of the accident.
b) We will publish a fuller account of the fact in our next magazine.
c) This is the most perfect painting I have ever seen.

We do not make comparative of PREFERABLE by using MORE, when we compare things by using PREFERABLE we do not use THAN after it, rather we say PREFERABLE TO. Also PREFERABLE can’t be used in the superlative degree; e.g.

a) This book is surely preferable to that one. (not MORE PREFERABLE or PREFERABLE THAN)
b) Milk is preferable to tea. (NOT MORE PREFERABLE or PREFERABLE THAN)

H) Use of ‘OTHER’ in comparison
When two similar type of things are compared, use of OTHER is essential in the positive or the comparative degree. But we don’t use OTHER when we compare the things using the superlative degree; e.g.

a) No other railway station in Delhi is as good as New Delhi Station.
b) New Delhi Station is better than any other railway station in Delhi.
c) New Delhi Station is better than all other railway stations in Delhi.

a) She is as clever as any other student in the class.
b) She is cleverer than any other student in the class.

INCORRECT: Gold is the most precious of all other metals.
CORRECT: Gold is the most precious of all metals.

INCORRECT: Pawan is the laziest of all his other brothers.
CORRECT: Pawan is the laziest of all his brothers.

NOTE-I: With ALL OTHER we use a plural noun but with ANY OTHER we use a singular noun; e.g.

a) He is better than all other boys in the class.
b) He is better than any other boy in the class.

NOTE-II: We use NO OTHER if the comparison is between two things within the same group, but we use NO if the comparison is between two things within different groups; e.g.

a) No other boy in the class is as good as he.
b) No country in Asia is as rich as America.

I) Emphasizing a comparative degree
When we want to give emphasis, we do not use VERY before a comparative degree, rather we use Much, Far, Very much, Any, No, Rather, A little, Even; e.g.

a) He is much/far older than his wife. (not VERY OLDER)
b) Seema looks no older than her younger sister.
c) Your cooking is even worse than Sunita’s.
d) Is you brother any better now?

J) The + Comparative Degree
When there is selection of one out of the two persons or things we use THE before a comparative degree, but in this case we must also use OF THE TWO after or before it. If the names of the persons or things are given we should use OF + NOUN + AND + NOUN, if pronouns are given instead we should use OF + PRONOUN + AND PRONOUN. We do not use THAN after The + Comparative Degree; e.g.

a) Ankur is the more intelligent of the two. (not THAN THE TWO)
b) She is the more beautiful of the two girls. (not THAN THE TWO GIRLS)
c) Of the two bags, this is definitely the better.
d) Who is the taller of Mohan and Sohan?

INCORRECT: She is the best of the two sisters.
CORRECT: She is the better of the two sisters.

INCORRECT: Of the two bags, this is definitely the best.
CORRECT: Of the two bags, this is definitely the better.

K) Parallel Increase/Decrease
Parallel increase is expressed by the structure ‘THE COMPARATIVE — THE COMPARATIVE’; e.g.

a) The more you earn, the more you spend.
b) The colder it becomes, the hungrier I get.
c) The more kind you are towards others, the more kind they are likely to be towards you.

L) Gradual Increase/Decrease
Gradual increase or decrease is expressed by ‘TWO COMPARATIVES joined by AND; e.g.

a) The weather is getting colder and colder today.
b) She became less and less interested in study I see.
c) I’m getting more and more interested in books these days.

I am getting fat and fatter.

3. Comparison with Superlative Degrees

A) The superlative degree of an adjective denotes the highest degree of the quality, and is used when more than two things are compared; e.g.

a) Madhuri is the most intelligent girl in our class.
b) She is the wisest of all the four sisters.
c) What is the least expensive means of transport these days?
d) Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun in our solar system.

B) Other adjectives that we can use with superlative degrees.

Before a superlative degree, we can also use the following:

i) possessive determiner (my, his, their),
ii) the + number
iii) possessive determiner + number

a) He is my worst enemy.
b) Mumbai is the second biggest city in India.
c) My two best friends organized a party for me on this occasion.

C) Sometimes we do comparison of three or more people or things using a relative clause; in that case we use a perfect tense in the relative clause; e.g.

a) This is the worst book that I have ever read.
b) It was the most worrying day that he had ever spent.

NOTE: Note that EVER is used here, not NEVER. We can, however, express the same idea with NEVER and a comparative degree; e.g.

a) I have never drunk better beer.
b) I have never met a kinder man.
c) He had never spent a more worrying day.


MOST + ADJECTIVE (without THE) = very

a) You are most kind. (means You are very kind)
b) This is most unfortunate.

E) Correct use of IN and OF after a superlative degree

After a superlative degree either the preposition OF or IN is used. With singular nouns/pronouns we use IN and with plural nouns/pronouns we use OF. With singular quantifiers like LOT and BUNCH we also use OF; e.g.

a) He is the richest man in the world. (not OF THE WORLD)
b) He is the best player in the team. (not OF THE TEAM)
c) All my teachers are kind, but Ritu is the kindest of them all.
d) You are the best of the lot.

F) Correct use of ONE OF and IF NOT in comparison

If a superlative degree is used after ONE OF, we use a plural noun after the superlative degree, If a superlative degree is used after IF NOT, we use a singular noun after the superlative degree though it’s not necessary at all to use this singular noun; e.g.

She is one of the tallest girls, if not the tallest girl.
= She is one of the tallest girls, if not the tallest.

G) Emphasizing a Superlative Degree

To emphasize, we use Much, By far, Quite, Almost, Practically, Easily, Nearly, Of all, etc. before a superlative degree.; e.g.

a) This is quite the most boring book I have ever read.
b) He is nearly the oldest man in my village.

NOTE: Don’t use ABOVE ALL with a superlative degree.

4. Some important facts about comparison

A) If two adjectives are joined by AND, the degree of both the adjectives should be same; e.g.

INCORRECT: She is taller and beautiful than you.
CORRECT: She is taller and more beautiful than you.

INCORRECT: She is good and wiser.
CORRECT: She is good and wise.

B) If we have to use both positive and comparative degrees in one single sentence, we join them by adding a conjunction in either of the following two ways:


a) She is as tall as and more beautiful than you.
b) He is better than and as wise as you.

INCORRECT: Karan is as intelligent if not more than his sister.
CORRECT: Karan is as intelligent as if not more than his sister.

INCORRECT: This is as good if not better than that.
CORRECT: This is as good as if not better than that.

C) We do not use double comparatives (more + comparative) or double superlatives (most + superlative) in a sentence; e.g.

INCORRECT: You are more older than this boy.
CORRECT: You are older than this boy.

INCORRECT: My grandfather is the most oldest man in the village.
CORRECT: My grandfather is the oldest man in the village.

D) HALF, TWICE, THRICE and comparison

With HALF, TWICE, THRICE we use ‘AS + POSITIVE DEGREE + AS’, not comparative degree; e.g.

a) She is half as beautiful as she thinks she is. (not HALF MORE BEAUTIFUL)
b) Your father is twice as old as your brother. (not TWICE OLDER)

NOTE: THREE/FOUR TIMES and comparison

But with THREE/FOUR ETC TIMES we can use either of  ‘AS + POSITIVE DEGREE + AS’ and COMPARATIVE DEGREE + THAN; e.g.

a) Your bag is two times as heavy as mine.
= Your bag is two times heavier than mine.

b) This question is three times as difficult as I expected.
= This question is three times more difficult than I expected.

E) Use of correct  Nouns/Pronouns after LIKE, AS, THAN, TO in comparison

Comparison is always done in two or more similar type of things, therefore we should use a correct noun/pronoun after THAN, etc.; e.g.

INCORRECT:  The price of this table is as much as that table.
CORRECT: The price of this table is as much as that of that table.

INCORRECT:  The climate of Shimla is better than Delhi.
CORRECT: The climate of Shimla is better than that of Delhi.

INCORRECT:  The people of Mumbai are more hard-working than Banglore.
CORRECT: The people of Mumbai are more hard-working than those of Banglore.

NOTE: But if it’s a personal noun or pronoun instead of a thing, we can use possessive noun or pronoun as the case may be; e.g.

a) Mohan’s house is far bigger than Rohit’s. (not Rohit)
b) Mohan’s house is far bigger than yours. (not YOU OR YOUR)

F) Equally as

We do not use EQUALLY and AS together:

INCORRECT: Rohit is equally as clever as Rahul.
CORRECT: Rohit is as clever as Rahul. OR Rohit and Rahul are equally clever.

G) Comparatively/Relatively + Positive Degree

After COMPARATIVELY/RELATIVELY we use positive degree (not comparative or superlative); e.g.

INCORRECT; The weather is comparatively better today.
CORRECT: The weather is comparatively good today.

INCORRECT; I am relatively better today.
CORRECT: I am relatively well today.

H) Comparison with PREFER

If comparison is between two nouns/pronouns we use TO after the first noun/pronoun, if the comparison is between two infinitives we use RATHER THAN after the first infinitive; e.g.

a) She prefers milk to tea. (two nouns)
b) He prefers to sit rather than sleep. (two infinitives)

5. Interchange of the degrees of comparison

As the following examples show, it is possible to change the Degree of Comparison of an Adjective in a sentence, without changing the meaning of the sentence:

Comparative – Manali is cooler than Shimla.
Positive – Shimla is not so cool as Manali.

Superlative – Jatan is the most intelligent student in the class.
Comparative – Jatan is better than any other student in the class.
Positive – No other student in the class is so intelligent as Jatan.

Positive – He is as wise as Neha.
Comparative – Neha is not wiser than he.

Positive – Some boys are at least as cleaver as Amit.
Comparative – Amit is not clever than some other boys. OR Some boys are not less clever than Amit.
Superlative – Amit is not the cleverest of all boys.

Superlative – Delhi is one of the biggest of Indian cities.
Comparative – Delhi is bigger than most other Indian cities.
Positive – Very few Indian cities are as big as Delhi.

For more chapters/topics on English Grammar read the following book authored by me.

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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