Grammar Patterns

Comparative adjectives

Part 1: The forms of comparative adjectives

Most graded adjectives have a comparative form. It is used to indicate that someone or something has more of a quality.The comparative is formed either by adding -er to the end of the adjective, or by using more before the adjective. Usually, when the adjective has one syllable, the comparative is formed using -er, as in bigger. When the adjective has two syllables but ends in -y, the comparative is also formed using -er, as in happier. With most other adjectives of two syllables, the comparative is formed using more. With adjectives of three syllables or more, the comparative is formed using more, as in more important.The adjectives good and bad have irregular comparative forms: better and worse. Old has an irregular comparative form, elder, as well as a regular one. A few adjectives have only a comparative form in one or more senses: earlier, later, lesser, lower, nearer, and upper. Some of these forms are not used in all comparative patterns.Many adjectives have two forms of comparative, one using -er and one using more. The most frequent of these are:
  • angry
  • busy
  • clever
  • common
  • cruel
  • gentle
  • handsome
  • hungry
  • likely
  • lovely
  • mature
  • narrow
  • obscure
  • pleasant
  • polite
  • quiet
  • remote
  • shallow
  • simple
  • stupid
  • subtle
  • All adjectives that have a comparative form, however it is made, have a second comparative form that consists of less and the adjective, as in less grand, less important, and less simple. This comparative is used to indicate that someone or something has less of a quality.

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