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Comparing Nouns with Adjectives

Sep 2, 2022

Degrees of Comparison 

It is a form-changing adjective that is used to compare one thing or person to another. 

They are of three types: 

  1. The Positive Degree 
  2. The Comparative Degree 
  3. The Superlative Degree  

Take the sentences: 

  • Brian is a tall boy. 
  • Chris is a taller boy than Brian. 
  • Henry is the tallest of all the boys. 

In sentence 1, the adjective tall simply describes the noun , Brian,without comparing it to anything else. Therefore, the adjective tall can be said to be a positive degree

More examples: Sweet, strange, dark, etc. 


But in sentence 2, the adjective taller compares the noun Chris with another noun , Brian. Therefore, the adjective taller can be said to be of acomparative degree. Here, the comparative degree is formed from the positive simply with the addition of the suffix ‘-er’. 

More examples: Sweeter, stranger, darker, etc. 

Similarly, in sentence 3, the adjective tallest compares the noun , Henry,with more than one noun, in this case, boys collectively. Therefore, the adjective tallest can be said to be in the superlative degree. Here, the superlative degree is formed from the positive simply with the addition of the suffix ‘-est’. 

More examples: Sweetest, strangest, darkest, etc. 

Note that the comparative degree is used when two things are compared and the superlative degree is used when more than two things are compared. 


The adjectives given above in the sentences are called regular adjectives. Regular adjectives are the ones that form the comparatives and superlatives by adding the suffixes -er and –est or by adding more and most before the positive, respectively. The adjectives given above are all examples of regular adjectives


  • Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. 
  • Weak, weaker, weakest. 

But this cannot be done all the time. Sometimes, the adjectives completely change their forms to become an entirely new words to represent the comparative and the superlative. For certain adjectives, the comparative and the superlative cannot be formed from the positive. They are called irregular adjectives


  • Good, better, best. 
  • Bad, worse, worst. 
  • Many, more, most. 

Now, let us take a look at some important rules that must be followed while using them as the degrees of comparison:

Rule 1

Describing words (Adjectives) with more than two syllables form their comparative and superlative by adding more and most respectively before the positive, like: 

  • Beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful 
  • Courageous, more courageous, most courageous 
  • Difficult, more difficult, most difficult 

Rule 2

When comparing two things or people, a comparative degree is used in conjunction with the word then, like: 

  • This is bigger than that. 
  • He is smarter than his cousin. 
  • You are more courageous than him. 

Rule 3

The comparative -er is not used while comparing two qualities in the same person or thing. More is used before the adjective in such cases even if the first adjective is a one-syllable word, like: 

  • Emily is more smart than clever. 
  • Ryan is more brave than prudent. 

Rule 4

Never use double comparative or double superlative adjectives like; 

  • I am closer to her than I am to him. – Wrong 

I am closer to her than I am to him. – Correct 

  • This chocolate is tastier than that. – Wrong 

This chocolate is tastier than that. – Correct 

Rule 5

Certain words like perfect, parallel, unique, etc., are absolute, and therefore cannot be logically compared. Never use more or most adjectives like these that give absolute sense. 


  • He gave the critic the most perfect reply. – Wrong

He gave the critic a perfect reply.- Correct

  • This line is more parallel to the other one.- Wrong 

This line is parallel, but the other is not. 

Rule 6

There are a few comparative adjectives that are followed by the word to such as senior, junior, superior, inferior, elder, etc. These comparative adjectives, should not be followed by than


  • She is elder than me. 
  • All my classmates are seniors to me. 
  • Emma’s marriage was beforeher mother’s death. 


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