Unit 36 Comparison: uses

Main points

* Comparative adjectives are used to compare people or things.

* Superlative adjectives are used to say that one person or thing has more of a quality than others in a group or others of that kind.

* Comparative adverbs are used in the same way as adjectives.

1 You use comparative adjectives to compare one person or thing with another, or with the same person or thing at another time. After a comparative adjective, you often use `than’.
She was much older than me.
I am happier than I have ever been.

2 You use a superlative to say that one person or thing has more of a quality than others in a group or others of that kind.
Tokyo is Japan’s largest city.
He was the tallest person there.
Buses are often the cheapest way of travelling.

3 You can use comparative and superlative adjectives in front of a noun.
I was a better writer than he was.
He had more important things to do.
It was the quickest route from Rome to Naples.

You can also use comparative and superlative adjectives after link verbs.
My brother is younger than me.
He feels more content now.
The sergeant was the tallest.
This book was the most interesting.

4 You can use adverbs of degree in front of comparative adjectives.

a bit, far, a great/good deal, a little, a lot, much, rather, slightly

This car’s a bit more expensive.
Now I feel a great deal more confident.
It’s a rather more complicated story than that.

You can also use adverbs of degree such as `by far’, `easily’, `much’, or `quite’ in front of `the’ and superlative adjectives.
It was by far the worst hospital I had ever seen.
She was easily the most intelligent person in the class.

Note that you can put `very’ between `the’ and a superlative adjective ending in `-est’.
It was of the very highest quality.

5 When you want to say that one situation depends on another, you can use `the’ and a comparative followed by `the’ and another comparative.
The smaller it is, the cheaper it is to post.
The larger the organisation is, the greater the problem of administration becomes.

When you want to say that something increases or decreases, you can use two comparatives linked by `and’.
It’s getting harder and harder to find a job.
Cars are becoming more and more expensive.

6 After a superlative adjective, you can use a prepositional phrase to specify the group you are talking about.
Henry was the biggest of them.
These cakes are probably the best in the world.
He was the most dangerous man in the country.

7 You use the same structures in comparisons using adverbs as those given for adjectives:

* `than’ after comparative adverbs
Prices have been rising faster than incomes.

* `the’ and a comparative adverb followed by `the’ and another comparative adverb
The quicker we finish, the sooner we will go home.

* two comparative adverbs linked by `and’
He sounded worse and worse.
He drove faster and faster till we told him to stop.