Comparative Adjectives

In English, adjectives are used for many reasons, such as describing nouns and telling others how we’re feeling. Comparative adjectives are used to compare two nouns. There are a lot of fun ways to practice these types of adjectives with young learners, but first, a grammar review may be in order!

Download Comparative Adjectives Chart PDF

Comparative Adjectives:

1. USE: Use comparative adjectives to compare two people, places, or things. Comparative adjectives are descriptions about two nouns’ height, speed, wealth, age, etc., where one thing is more than another.

2. FORM:

  • one-syllable adjective: Adj + -er + than
  • two-syllable adjective ending with -y: Adj (-y changes to -i) + -er than
  • two-syllable adjective (not ending in -y)more + Adj + than
  • three-syllable (or more) adjective: more + Adj than

Note: Some two-syllable adjectives don’t follow the rules above. For example, we can say friendlier OR more friendly, and simpler OR more simple. Other such adjectives include angry, cruel, handsome, gentle, and quiet.

3. EXAMPLES:

  • Maria is taller than Jack.
  • I feel happier today than I did yesterday.
  • This week’s test was simpler than last week’s test.
  • Sunsets at the beach are more beautiful than sunsets in the city.

4. WHAT ABOUT “LESS”?

We can also make comparisons in English where one thing is less than another thing. Comparative adjectives include both more and less comparisons. We have two ways to indicate a less comparison:

a) not as + Adj + as

b) less + Adj + than

Just remember that we can’t use -er to mean less; -er only means more. A good rule of thumb is to use not as…as for adjectives with one and two syllables, and less for adjectives with three or more syllables. This will always result in natural sounding comparisons, though it is possible to use not as…as for any adjectives. (Note: not as…as adjectives are also known as equative adjectives.)

Examples:

  • Jack is not as tall as Maria.
  • I didn’t feel as happy yesterday as I do today.
  • Last week’s test wasn’t as simple as this week’s test.
  • Sunsets in the city are less beautiful than at the beach.

Note: The examples in sections #3 and #4 have the same meanings (i.e., Sunsets at the beach are more beautiful than in the city has the same meaning as Sunsets in the city are less beautiful than at the beach). Point out to students that there are many ways to say the same thing in English.

Our lesson of the week was a coloring worksheet about a zookeeper. After trying the worksheet, you could brainstorm a list of adjectives with your students and get them to make comparisons between various animals. (E.g., lions are more ferocious than bears, penguins are cuter than pigs, etc.)

     

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Tanya Trusler

Tanya is a freelance editor and writer with an extensive background as an ESL teacher. She edits lesson plans, creates new materials, and writes weekly blog posts for ESL-Library and Sprout English. Her company is Editing to a T. Follow her on Twitter (@tanyatrusler) and Google Plus.

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