The only pattern of morphological change of English adjectives is that of degrees of comparison. This morphological characteristic is possible only for descriptive qualitative adjectives the meaning of which is compatible with the idea of gradation of quality.
Let’s go by car. It’s cheaper.
Don’t go by train. It’s more expensive.
That was a delicious meal. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had.
He was faster, and tougher than those men <...> (Puzo 1996: 19). \
He was the bravest and the smartest cop I ever knew (Puzo 1996: 402).
‘Oh, hello, darling’, said Daniel in his politest voice (Fielding 2001: 127).
There are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative, superlative.
The superlative is generally used with the definite article. Ways of formation may be synthetic (i.e. by adding the inflection -er, -est), analytic (i.e. by using more and most), and suppletive (i.e. irregularly).
Note: The superlative is sometimes used without the when the adjective denotes a very high degree of quality and no comparison with other objects is implied (i.e. when somebody/something is compared with him/her/itself in other situations),
The river is deepest here. She is happiest at home. He’s nicest when he’s had a few drinks.
Most + adjective, without the, means very, e.g. You are most kind (= You are very kind).
Note: After superlatives, we do not use “of” with a singular word for a place or group,
She s the fastest player in the team (but she’s the fastest player of them all).
The positive form is the main form of an adjective, which does not express comparison (e.g. slow, heavy, extravagant, well-known, blue-eyed, etc.).
Depending on their morphological structure adjectives follow these rules of comparative and superlative degrees formation:
One-syllable adjectives form their comparative and superlative by adding -er and -est to the positive form:
Adjectives ending in -e add -r and -st:
Adjectives of three or more syllables form their comparative and superlative by putting more and most before the positive:
interested more interested most interested
frightening more frightening most frightening
Adjectives of two syllables follow one or the other of the above rules. Those ending in -ful or -re usually take more and most:
doubtful more doubtful most doubtful
obscure more obscure most obscure
Those ending in -er, -y or -ly usually add -er, -est:
prettyprettierprettiest(note that the y becomes i)
silly sillier silliest
Adjectival compounds can be inflected in two ways, either the first element is inflected (if it is an adjective or an adverb), or comparison is with more and most:
kind-hearted more kind-heartedmost kind-hearted
Irregular comparison:
bad worse worst
far farther farthest (of distance only)
further furthest (used more widely)
good better best
little less least
many/much more most
old elder eldest (of people only)
older oldest (of people and things)
Note: farther/farthest and further/furthest
Both forms can be used of distances,
York is farther/further than Lincoln or Selby.
Further can also be used, mainly with abstract nouns, to mean ‘additional/extra’,
Further supplies will soon be available. Further discussion/debate would be pointless.
Similarly: further enquiries/delays/demands/information/ instructions, etc.
Furthest can be used similarly, with absract nouns,
This was the furthest point they reached in their discussion. This was the furthest confession he would make.
Note: elder/eldest and older/oldest
Elder, eldest imply seniority rather than age. They are chiefly used for comparisons within a family,
my elder brother, her eldest boy/girl,
but elder is not used with than, so older is necessary here,
He is older than I am. (elder would not be possible)
in positive sentences and in questions
As ……. as
так(ой)же... как

I’msorryI’m late. I got here as fast as I could.
There is plenty of food, so eat as much as you like.
twice as ... ……. as
three times as ... as
в два/три раза больше
Petrol is twice as expensive as it was a few years ago.
Their house is three times as big as ours.
This grade is twice as expensive.
He is twice as old.
half as much/many
half the size
half my age
half the weight
в два раза меньше в два раза меньше в два раза моложе в два раза легче
The room is half the size ...
He is half my age.
My trunk is half the weight of yours.
Not so/as ... as
не такой... как
He is not so (as) tall as his father.
значительно much
a great deal
немного A lot
a bit
a little

The Dniper is much longer than the Thames.
This book is far more interesting than that one.
Your room is a great deal better than mine.
Could you speak a bit (little) more slowly?
the most (самый)
This is the most interesting book.
a most (крайне, весьма)
This is a most interesting book
These are most interesting books.
большинство, большая часть
Most young people are fond of sports.
Most of my friends live in Moscow.
the more... the better
чем... тем
We use the... re i with two comparatives) to say that one thing depends on the other.
What time shall we leave? The sooner the better.
What size box do you want? The bigger the better.
The warmer the weather the better I feel.
the same... as
такой же... как
Ann gets the same salary as mine.
Tom is the same age as George.
as me/him/ her/ them/ us
You are taller than me (I am).
They have more money than us (we have).
I can run as fast as him (as he can).
Set phrases
Note some of the set phrases which contain the comparative or the superlative:
a change for the better (for the worse) - a person, thing, situation, etc. that is better/worse than the present or previous one, e.g. The situation is now so bad that any change is likely to be a change for the better,
so much the better (the worse) (for sb/sth) - that is even better/worse, e.g. The result is not very important to us, but if we do win, (then) so much the better,
for better or worse - whether the result is good or bad, e.g. It’s done, and, for better or worse, we can’t change it now,
at best- taking the most hopeful or favourable view, e.g. She can’t get away from her home for long. At best she can stay with us for two days',
at (the) worst - if the worst happens, e.g. At worst this may mean the end of her playing career,
do, try, etc. one's best - to try as hard as possible, e.g. I did my best to stop her,
do one's worst- to be as awkward and unpleasant as possible, e.g. Let them do their worst - we ’11 fight them every inch of the way!;
if the worst comes to the worst - if circumstances become too difficult or dangerous, e.g. If the worst comes to the worst, we ’11 just have to sell the house.
Exercises for Practice
Give the comparative and the superlative forms of the given adjectives wherever possible.
cosypregnant immortal real
vacant polite frequent square
cheap complete intimate dreadful
yellow patient good-looking deep-blue
pleasant wooden quiet dry
kind-hearted much-spoken unimportant narrow
mutual little dear double-bedded
clever comfortable electric simple
dead Persian right (left) unique
Irregular comparison. Answer the questions using the correct form of the following adjectives. good bad far little much/many old
If I’m not happy with the pen I’ve got and money is not a problem, what should I do? Buy a better pen.
Three thousand people entered a poetry competition. Max‘s poem won.
Five friends all arrived for lunch at the same time. Alice had left home an hour before anyone else. Why?
I had a cold. I went to work, but left early and went home to bed. Why? 5.1 wanted to make a pear tart, but I realised all the pears were going bad.
I used parts of some of the pears. Which three parts did I throw away?
Jill was bom in 1970. Her sisters Liz and Sue were bom in 1972 and 1973, and her brothers Ted and Joe were bom in 1971 and 1974. What can Liz call Jill? What can Joe call Ted? What can Sue call Jill?
My cousin had a medical problem. The doctors have done some tests, but they still can’t decide what the problem is. What are they going to do?
Seven different plants need different amount of water. Which one will grow best in a dry sunny place?
The Blacks have got a big house and three expensive cars. The Browns have got a small flat and one inexpensive car. Why?
Why does it take longer for me to walk to the post office than to the park?
Can you answer the following questions? You have to answer in full sentences.
For example:
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the Africa.
ComparativesWhich is heavier: a kilo or two pounds?
Where are there more people: in Indonesia or in Japan?
Which is the larger country: Russia or China?
Who can expect to have a longer life: a man or a woman?
Which has less iron: a banana or an orange?
Which can jump the longer distance: a kangaroo or a horse?
Which country produces more rice: China or India?
Which is bigger: a Boeing 787 or an Airbus A380?
Which ocean is deeper: the Atlantic or the Pacific?
Which is faster: a horse or a bicycle?
Which is heavier: a kilo of feathers or a kilo of gold?
Which animal has fewer stripes: a tiger or a zebra?
Which is the highest mountain in Africa?
Which weighs the least: the brain of a human, a polar bear or a dolphin?
Which is the largest planet in the solar system?
Which animal has the longest life?
Which is the longest snake in the world?
Which planets have the fewest satellites?
Which country produces the most wheat?
What is the shortest word in the English language?
What is the lowest lake in the world?
Which is the fastest land animal in the world?
11 What is the lightest gas?
Which is the brightest star in the sky?
For homework, students make up as many questions as they can on the same model. They can use websites such as
Use the right degree of comparison of the adjectives in brackets.
Steve is certainly (clever) than his brother. And he is (attractive) than his brother Peter. In fact, he is (smart) boy I’ve ever met.
Life is getting (hard) and (complicated) with every passing day.
It has been (cold) day in Moscow for thirty years.
It’s (little) I can do for you, I’m afraid.
That was (bad) than he had expected.
They are so nanve to think that things can only get (good).
That was indeed (bad) experience in his career.
This is (unbelievable) news I have ever heard.
Angela is (little) organized than Mike.
They had (little) and (little) to talk about.
(much) original a discovery is, (much) obvious it seems afterwards.
He laughs (good), who laughs last.
He who laughs last, laughs (long).
Of two evils, choose (little).
My aunt is (old) of the four sisters.
Put your hand no (far) than your sleeve will reach.
(Good) a lean peace than a fat victory.
Donald is (well-off) than either of his brothers.
Ben is (wealthy) of the three brothers.
Get there first with (much) - that is the fundamental principle of tactics.
Fill in the gaps with the correct form of the adjective. Mind the use of articles where necessary.
LATE1.She married in her ... twenties. 2.Spielberg’s ... movie opens in London next week. З.Не turned up ... than he had promised. 4.Let’s discuss ... news a little bit ... , shall we? 5.Will you repeat ... sentence, please. 6.This illustrated magazine shows photographs of ... fashions. 7.Last week my students passed ... exam. 8.What are you doing up at this ... hour?
NEAR1.There’s no one ... to me than you. 2.Excuse me, where is ... metro station? З.Аге you getting off at ... stop, sir? 4. Who lives ... to the school, kids? 5. ... week you’ll have to write an essay according to our schedule. 6.Who is going to be ... to do the talking? 7.We hope to move to Baltimore in ... future. 8. ... house to ours is two miles away.
1.My friend is as ... as I. 2.0f the four children Tony is ... . 3.My ... brother is a loving family man. 4 — Who is ... here? - Mr.Stone is, though he is the youngest man here. 5.Have you got ... brother or sister? 6.At fifteen years ... he left school. 7.1 prefer the chair in its ... place. 8.The cathedral is ... building in the city.
1 .She is one of those who will go ... . 2.How ... is your native place from here? 3.Billy lived at ... end of the village. 4. She never went ... than school. 5.Do you think they will get any ... in this tricky matter? 6.A ... calculation shows that these figures are incorrect. 7.1 live ... from the city centre. 8.1 live ... from the city centre than you do. 9.They are waiting for ... news from home. lO.Life on a farm is a ... cry from what I’ve been used to living in the city.
Look at the information about Ted and Glenn, and then make up sentences comparing them using as ... as, not so/as ... as and the same ... as.
Sample: Glenn went to the same school as Ted.
Ted’s not as old as her.
University Manchester Liverpool
School Leeds H.S. Leeds H.S.
Height 1.92 m 1.70 m
Weight 87 kg 56 kg
Job accountant accountant
Bom: When? 27.7.64 31.3.64
Where? Leeds Leeds
Salary J 26,000 J 52,000
Works for IBM Rolls Royce
Holiday 5 weeks 3 weeks
Address 3 Ross Street, Manchester 8 Ross Street, Manchester
Children 2 2
Languages Fluent French, some German Fluent French, fluent German
Reading Newspapers Newspapers, magazines,non-
Translate the sentences into your language and say how degrees of comparison are intensified.
Are the profits that poor?
The weather is no better today than it was yesterday.
It’s ever so interesting to meet new people and visit new places.
It’s most important you stay here.
This is &. most rewarding job. ■
Thank you ever so much, you’ve been most helpful.
They give you the best chance imaginable.
He is no worse than any other boy of his age.
Your project is much better than any other’s.
Mr.Rich is by far and away the biggest share holder.
It was the most awful day ever.
Listen, I’m dead serious about it.
This idea is pretty interesting.
Mr.Trouble was having far worse problems.
He gave her a most loving smile.
Complete the sentences with expressions from the box. Use 'the + comparative ... the + comparative‘ constructions. Consult the sample first.
Sample:. . . Mark gets, ... he looks like his grandfather.
The older Mark gets, the more he looks like his grandfather.
' older/moremore/moreolder/darkermore/angrier
1 warmer/more longer/more faster/more_ more/less more/rnore/less I
.... he drove, ... we laughed.
... I live here, ... I like it.
...I get, ... my hair gets.
... money he lost, ... it made him.
... I learn, ... I forget and ... I know.
... I get to know you, ... I understand you.
... clothes she buys, ... clothes she wants to buy.
... it got, ... time we spent on the beach.
Circular situations. Make sentences like the one in the sample.
Sample: He drives fast; he gets nervous.
The faster he drives, the more nervous he gets; and the more nervous he gets, the faster he drives.
He eats ice-cream; he gets fat. {The more ice-cream ...)
He reads; he forgets.
She ignores him; he loves her.
She buys shoes; she wants shoes. {Mind the word order)
We spend money; we have friends.
6.1 sleep; I’m tired.
{Make your own sentence)
{Make your own sentence)
Complete the given phrases.
1.The sooner, ... . 2.The longer the day (is), ... . 3.The more we learn, ... . 4.The later one goes to bed, ... . 5.The more knowledge you get, ... . 6.The more expensive the wedding, ... . 7.The better the idea, ... . 8.The richer your vocabulary, ... . 9.The less chocolate you eat, ... . 10.The farther from home, ... . 11 .The smarter person is, ... . 12.The more kids you have, ... .Read and translate into your language the following colourful and unusual comparisons. Make up sentences with them.
as different as chalk and cheese
as scarce as hen’s teeth
as dark as inside of a wolf
as happy as a pumpkin in a sunny patch
as ugly as home-made soap
as black as two o’clock in the morning
as happy as a dog with two tails
as nervous as a brick wall
as brave as the first man who ate an oyster
as cold as an ex-wife’s heart
as big as the little end of nothing
as noisy as two skeletons dancing on a tin roof
as exciting as watching paint dry
as poor as a church mouse
as welcome as a wet shoe
Read and translate the proverbs. Find their equivalents in your language.
Actions speak louder than words.
A bad excuse is better than none.
Better late than never.
A creaking door hangs longest.
The best doctors are Dr.Diet, Dr.Quiet and Dr.Merryman.
Experience is the best teacher.
A man is as old as he feels, and a woman as old as she looks.
The more you get, the more you want.
Prevention is better than cure.
The sharper the storm, the sooner it’s over.
Translate into English.
Для нее нет ничего более важного, чем ее карьера.
К сожалению, я не смог прийти так рано, как обещал.
Чем больше человек имеет, тем больше ему хочется.
4; Ватикан - самое маленькое государство в Европе.
Из двух проектов второй более перспективный.
Прямая линия - кратчайшее расстояние между двумя точками.
На этот раз у вас меньше ошибок.
Человеку столько лет, на сколько он себя чувствует.
Чем скорее ты это сделаешь, тем лучше.
Это был самый печальный опыт в моей жизни.
На этой выставке представлено последнее (новейшее) оборудование со всего мира.
Вода - самый сильный напиток: она приводит в движение мельницы.
Из всех живых существ самый сложный организм - у человека.
Становится все труднее и труднее найти приличную работу по специальности.
Утро было прекрасным, но к вечеру погода стала хуже, ветер усилился, и темные тучи покрыли небо.
Write on one of the suggested topics.
Your proudest achievement.
Your most important decision.
Your biggest inspiration.
Your biggest business risk.
Your greatest regret or disappointment.
The best year of your life.
The thing that interests you most in people.
The greatest help you have ever received.
The strangest coincidence in your life.
The three most important principles you follow.
The biggest crisis in your life.
Your strongest belief.
If you are in a class find a partner. Each of you should
write two paragraphs comparing yourselves. Don't mention your names. Use this frame:
This person and I have got several things in common. For instance, ... and ... . He/She ... , and ... .
On the other hand, we are quite different from each other in some ways ... . When you have finished, give your comparisons to the teacher. Try and guess which pairs have written which comparisons.
Speak up! Activities. 3.2.26. Compare the following things.
two different fruits
two different flowers
two academic subjects
two of your friends
a cat and a dog
rock music and classical music
comedy and tragedy
children and parents
being single and being married
your life now with what it was like ten years ago
your physical appearance now with the way you looked as a child
your life now with what you wanted it to be
If you are in a class find out some of the following things and make up sentences.
Who: sings best, sings worst, dances best, dances worst, cooks better than you, cooks worse than you, can run fastest, gets up earliest, goes to bed later than you, works hardest, smokes heaviest, feels happiest at the moment.
If you are in a class find a partner. Discuss how you are alike and how you are different: talk about appearances, interests, families, etc. Use structures and expressions from 3.1.4. (Grammar Point). Other useful structures are 'both/neither of us, 'the same as’, 'the same colour/size/etc. as, 'different from’, 'I'm ... , but he/she isn't', 'he/she's got ... , but I haven't’.
Comparing and contrasting
Would you prefer to live in a city or a village? Why?
I. Write down three advantages and three disadvantages of each type of place. You can use phrases with adjectives (e.g. quieter) or nouns (e.g. fewer cars) or adverbs (e.g. live more comfortably).
City Village
more interesting quieter
II. Listen to a student answering question 1 above and tick the comparative expressions he uses from the list below.
(it’s) much more exciting
(they’re) exactly the same
(there are) more shops
(the streets are) busier
(there’s) too much traffic
(there’s) more to do (in the evenings)
(you can have) much more fun
(there are) far fewer skyscrapers
(living in a village) ... much healthier
(there’s) less pollution
(life is) much quieter
(it’s) a lot less crowded
b Look at the words the speaker used to organize his response. What order did he say them in?
Because on the other hand well, I’d prefer to
III. Make notes on questions 1-3, similar to the ones you made in Exercise 1.
Do you think it’s better to live in a modern flat or an old house? Why?
Would you rather live in a modern town or an historic city? Why?
Would you prefer to live in the city centre or in the suburbs? Why?
b Answer questions 1-4 using expressions from Exercises 1 and 2, and your notes.
Compare a current situation with a past situation. You need to be careful with tenses in order to describe past and present habits and situations.
Read the question, then listen to a student’s response and fill the gaps with words that you hear.
Do you think modern homes are different from homes your grandparents had?Yes, they’re 1……Peoplein the past used to live in 2……. houses because 3….. people lived together then. They weren’t 4….. buildings are now,of course, and they were 5…. comfortableto livein. Nowadays people tend to live in flats which are 6….. butthey’re 7……. with central heating and running water and so on ...
5 The speaker in the text given above doesn’t just say ‘homes are different now’. He says they are ‘completely different’. When speaking, it is very natural to stress the difference by using modifying expressions.
Look at the phrases below and cross out the incorrect modifying expression in each one.
a lot / more or less the same
very / much different
a great deal / completely newer very /far higher
much / totally darker totally / a lot new
far/ really polluted
Listen to a speaker talking about question 1 below and check your answers to Exercise 5a.
Are city buildings very different from those in your grandparents’ day?
Do you think modern homes are different from homes your grandparents had?
Do you think cities are the same today as they were 50 years ago?
Do you think people know more or less about the world than they did in the past?
Comparison 1: numerical and other comparative expressions1 Study the following information.
half/twice/three times, etc. as ... as
nearly/just under
more than/over
three times, etc.

much/many X
as as tall/expensive, etc.
three/four times, etc. / 50% + comparative
With expressions like three/four times, etc. and with percentages, it’s also possible to use a comparative:
The computer system was three times more expensive than we’d expected.
Prices are 25% cheaper on the Internet than in the shops.
NB It’s not possible to use a comparative after half or twice.
2 Write sentences comparing the information in the following tables.This table shows the earnings of some of the richest football clubs in the world (2000).
Turnover in $ million
Manchester United 110.9
Bayern Munich 83.5
Real Madrid 76.1
Chelsea 59.1
Barcelona 55.7
Lazio 50
Liverpool 45.3
AS Roma 39.4
Leeds United 37
Celtic 33.4
2 . This table shows how children aged seven to fifteen spend their money in the UK. The figures are percentages.
Children’s expenditure by gender and type of purchase
Males Females
Food and soft drinks 37 36
Leisure goods 29 17
Clothing and footwear 8 16
Household goods and services 5 8
Transport and fares 7 4
Comparison 2: forming comparatives and superlatives.
1 Study the examples and complete the notes relating to the comparison of adjectives.
long, longer, longest grey, greyer, greyest
fine, finer, finest flat, flatter, flattest
dry, drier, driest neat, neater, neatest
Adjectives of one syllable add ~(e)r or -(e)st. If the adjective ends in a 1…..followed by –
y, this changes to -ier or -iest.
If the adjective ends in a single consonant after a single 2……..., the consonant is
The following have irregular forms: good, better, best; bad, worse, worst; far, 3……… . The following determiners also have irregular forms: much/many, more, most; little,
less, least.
secure, more secure, most secure
easy, easier, easiest
simple, simpler/more simple, simplest/most simple
Most two-syllable adjectives take 4 ……….. .
Two-syllable adjectives ending in 5 ……….add-ier and -iest.
The following adjectives can take 6……….:
commonnarrow polite simple
likely pleasant quiet stupid
interesting, more interesting, most interesting
Adjectives of 7 ………….take more and most.
easily, more easily, most easily
Most adverbs form comparatives and superlatives with 8………
Adverbs with the same form as adjectives form comparatives and superlatives in the
same way as adjectives, e.g. fast, faster, fastest; hard, harder, hardest; early, earlier,
The following have irregular forms: well, 9 ………, …..;
badly, 10 ……., …..
2 Complete the following short texts by writing the appropriate form of the adjective or adverb and adding any other necessary words.

South America, the fourth (1 large) continent in the world, stretches from Point Gallinas on the Caribbean coast to Cape Horn, (2 southerly) point of Horn Island. Among its features are the Andes mountain range which, at over 7,000 kilometres, is (3 long) the distance from London to Bombay, the world’s (4 high) city, La Paz in Bolivia, and one of the world’s (5 Important) resources - the Amazonian rainforest. With an area of seven million square kilometres, this is twelve times (6 big) than France. It is a major source of oxygen and is home to half of all known living species, including the anaconda, the world’s (7 heavy) snake, and the two-toed sloth, (8 slow) animal. The continent experiences extremes of weather. Parts of Columbia are among (9 wet) in the world, while the Atacama Desert in Chile, which has an average of only 0.5mm of rain a year, is (10 dry) place on Earth. Spanish is (11 widely spoken) language.
Railways have several advantages over road transport. Running on tracks, they use (12 little) fuel than cars or lorries and allow heavy loads to be moved (13 efficiently). Trains can also transport goods and passengers at (14 great) average speeds and with (15 few) hold-ups than road transport, making journeys (16 short) and (17 stressful). Rail networks are (18 commonly) used in Japan and Europe than in the USA, and Russia has (19 high) passenger railway usage of all. The (20 fast) scheduled train service in the world is the French TGV’s 254kph journey between Massy and St Pierre

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