Thinking Box

Fundamentals of English Grammar - Chapter 9: Comparisons

9-1 Making Comparisons with As ... As

Tina: 21
Sam: 21
Ted: 20
Amy: 5

  • (a) Tina is 21 years old. Sam is also 21.
    Tina is as old as Sam (is).
    (b) Mike came as quickly as he could.

    As ... as is used to say that the two parts of a comparison are equal or the same in some way.
    In (a): as + adjective + as
    In (b): as + adverb + as

  • (c) Ted is 20. Tina is 21.
    Ted is not as old as Tina.
    (d) Ted is not quite as old as Tina.
    (e) Amy is 5. She is not nearly as old as Tina.

    Negative form: not as ... as. Quite and nearly are often used with the negative.
    In (d): not quite as ... as = a small difference.
    In (e): not nearly as ... as = a big different.

  • (f) Sam is just as old as Tina.
    (g) Ted is nearly/almost as old as Tina.

    Common modifiers of as ... as are just (meaning "exactly") and nearly/almost.

9-2 Comparative and Superlative

  • (a) "A" is older than "B".
    (b) "A" and "B" are older than "C" and "D".
    (c) Ed is more generous than his brother.

    The comparative compares this to that or these to those.
    Form: -er or more
    Notice: A comparative is followed by than.

  • (d) "A", "B", "C", and "D" are sisters. "A" is the oldest of all four sisters.
    (e) A woman in Turkey claims to be the oldest person in the world.
    (f) Ed is the most generous person in his family.

    The superlative compares one part of a whole group to all the rest of the group.
    Form: -est or most
    Notice: A superlative begins with the.

9-3 Comparative and Superlative Forms of Adjectives and Adverbs


  • old | older | the oldest
    wise | wiser | the wisest

    For most one-syllable adjectives, -er and -est are added.


  • famous | more famous | the most famous
    Pleasant | more pleasant | the most pleasant

  • clever | cleverer | the cleverest
    clever | more clever | the most cleverest
    gentle | gentler | the gentlest
    gentle | more gentle | the most gentle
    friendly | friendlier | the friendliest
    friendly | more friendly | the most friendly

    Some two-syllable adjectives use either -er/-est or more/most: able, angry, clever, common, cruel, friendly, gentle, handsome, narrow, pleasant, polite, quiet, simple, sour.

  • busy | busier | the busiest
    pretty | prettier | the prettiest

    -Er and -est are used with two-syllable adjectives that end in -y.
    The -y is changed to -i.


  • important | more important | the most important
    fascinating | more fascinating | the most fascinating

    More and most are used with long adjectives.


  • good | better | the best
    bad | worse | the worst

    Good and bad have irregular comparative and superlative forms.


  • carefully | more carefully | the most carefully
    slowly | more slowly | the most slowly

    More and most are used with adverbs that end in -ly.*


  • fast | faster | the fastest
    hard | harder | the hardest

    The -er and -est forms are used with one-syllable adverbs.


  • well | better | the best
    badly | worse | the worst
    far | father/further | the farthest/furthest

    Both father and further are used to compare physical distances: I walked farther than my friend did. OR I walked further than my friend did. Further also means "additional": I need further information.
    NOTE: Farther cannot be used when the meaning is "additional."

*Exception: early is both an adjective and an adverb. Forms: earlier, earliest.

9-4 Completing a Comparative

  • (a) I'm older than my brother (is).
    (b) I'm older than he is.
    (c) I'm older than him. (informal)

    In formal English, a subject pronoun (e.g., he) follows than, as in (b).
    In everyday, informal spoken English, an object pronoun (e.g., him) often follows than, as in (c).

  • (d) He works harder than I do.
    (e) I arrived earlier than they did.

    Frequently an auxiliary verb follows the subject after than.
    In (d): than I do = than I work

  • (f) Ann's hair is longer than Kate's.
    (g) Jack's apartment is smaller than mine.

    A possessive noun (e.g., Kate's) or pronoun (e.g., mine) may follow than.

9-5 Modifying Comparatives

  • (a) Tom is very old.
    (b) Ann drives very carefully.

    Very often modifies adjectives, as in (a), and adverbs, as in (b).

  • (c) INCORRECT: Tom is very older than I am.
    INCORRECT: Ann drives very more carefully than she used to.

    Very is NOT used to modify comparative adjectives and adverbs.

  • (d) Tom is much / a lot / far older than I am.
    (e) Ann drives much / a lot / far more carefully than she used to.

    Instead, much, a lot, or far are used to modify comparative adjectives and adverbs, as in (d) and (e).

  • (f) Ben is a little (bit) old than I am OR (informally) me.

    Another common modifier is a little / a little bit, as in (f).

9-6 Comparisons with Less ... Than and Not As ... As


  • (a) A pen is less expensive than a book.
    (b) A pen is not as expensive as a book.

    The opposite of -er/more is expressed by less or no as ... as.
    Examples (a) and (b) have the same meaning.

    Less and not as ... as are used with adjectives and adverbs of more than one syllable.


  • (c) A pen is not as large as a book.
    INCORRECT: A pen is less large than a book.

    Only not as ... as (NOT less) is used with one-syllable adjectives or adverbs, as in (c).

9-7 Using More with Nouns

  • (a) Would you like some more coffee?
    (b) Not everyone is here. I expect more people to come later.

    In (a): coffee is a noun. When more is used with nouns, it often has the meaning of "additional." It is not necessary to use than.

  • (c) There are more people in China than there are in United States.

    More is also used with nouns to make complete comparisons by adding than.

  • (d) Do you have enough coffee, or would you like some more?

    When the meaning is clear, the noun may be omitted and more can be used by itself.

9-8 Repeating a Comparative

(a) Because he was afraid, he walked faster and faster.
(b) Life in the modem world is getting more and more complicated.

Repeating a comparative gives the idea that something becomes progressive greater, i.e., it increases in intensity, quality, or quantity.

9-9 Using Double Comparatives

  • (a) The harder you study, the more you will learn.
    (b) The more she studied, the more she learned.
    (c) The warmer the weather (is), the better I like it.

    A double comparative has two parts; both parts begin with the, as in the examples. The second part of the comparison is the result of the first part.
    In (a): If you study harder, the result will be that you will learn more.

  • (d) Should we ask Jenny and Jim to the party too?
    -> Why not? The more, the merrier.
    (e) When should we leave?
    -> The sooner, the better.

    The more, the merrier and the sooner, the better are two common expressions.
    In (d): It is good to have more people at the party.
    In (e): It is good if we leave as soon as we can.

9-11 Using The Same, Similar, Different, Like, Alike

  • (a) John and Mary have the same books.
    (b) John and Mary have similar books.
    (c) John and Mary have different books.
    (d) Their books are the same.
    (e) Their books are similar.
    (f) Their books are different.

    The same, similar, and different are used as adjectives.
    Notice: the always precedes same.

  • (g) This book is the same as that one.
    (h) This book is similar to that one.
    (i) This book is different from that one.

    Notice: the same is followed by as; similar is followed by to; different is followed by from.*

  • (j) She is the same age as my mother.
    My shoes are the same size as yours.

    A noun may come between the same and as, as in (j).

  • (k) My pen is like you pen.
    (l) My pen and your pen are alike.

    Notice in (k) and (l):
    noun + be like + noun
    noun and noun + be alike

  • (m) She looks like her sister.
    It looks like rain.
    It sounds like thunder.
    This material feels like silk.
    That smells like gas.
    This chemical tastes like salt.
    Stop acting like a fool.
    He seems like a nice guy.

    In addition to following be, like also follows certain verbs, primarily those dealing with the senses.
    Notice the examples in (m)

  • (n) The twins look alike.
    We think alike.
    Most four-years-olds act alike.
    My sister and I talk alike.
    The little boys are dressed alike.

    Alike may follow a few verbs other than be.
    Notice the examples in (n).