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Degrees Of Comparison – Basic Infomation

Most of the adjectives have three forms (tall-taller-tallest). These forms are called degrees of comparison. These adjectives generally talk about a quality, which may be present in different degrees in different persons or things. This very possibility has created the necessity to develop forms of the describing words.

The basic form of adjectives is positive adjective. The comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are generally formed by adding er/more and est/most respectively. Shorter adjectives take er/est and longer adjectives take est/most.

Ex: short (positive) – shorter (comparative) – shortest (superlative)

Ex: beautiful (positive) – more beautiful (comparative) – most beautiful (superlative)

However, some adjectives are irregular adjectives because they for do not form degrees of comparison this way.













Given the nature of this book, we cannot discuss these basic points in detail. So if you need any further infomation, you are advised to go through a good grammar book for further details.

Before we go further into the discussion of degrees of comparison, we should consider one interesting point about adjectives. Some adjectives refer to qualities that cannot be present in degrees. Words, such as perfect, eternal, complete, eternal, circular, complete, square, and round, cannot be present in various degrees of qualities expressed by these adjectives. So it is incorrect to use them in degrees of comparison.

* Your answer is more perfect than hers.

* Your answer is better than hers.

Coming to the degrees of comparison, we have noted that adjectives are present in three forms: positive, comparative and superlative adjectives.

  1. Positive adjective
    The first form of adjective is used in basic description or with nouns with equal/unequal degree of the quality given by the adjective.

Study the following examples.

  • Until less than 100 years ago, the area was quite conducive for the growth of plants.
  • The scientists remained skeptical about the validity of explanation because of certain lacunae found.

You might have observed that in the basic sentences of the description, as in the first example, we use positive adjective.

We use as … as and so … as when we talk about equal or unequal comparison. However, we should note that though as … as is used in both positive and negative sentences, use of so… as is preferable in negative sentences and so… as should not be used in positive sentences.

Study the following to understand this concept.

  • Any other theorem developed before 20th century is not so useful as Pythagoras’ theorem.
  • Beijing Normal University has a history of more than 100 years, which is as long as the history of modern Chinese education.
  1. Comparative adjectives
    The second forms of adjectives (-er/more adjectives) are called comparative adjectives, which are used for comparison when the degrees of the quality expressed by the adjectives are present in unequal quantities.

Study the following examples.

  • A yurt, a portable, felt-covered and lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomadic tribes of steppes, is more home-like than usual nomadic tents.
  • The cave paintings of Chauvet, which depict horses, are older than all other cave paintings so far discovered.

Besides the above, comparative adjectives are used in the following ways also.

i. To indicate gradual changes

  • The economic situation became more and more volatile because of the uncertainties in international markets.
  • She became weaker and weaker as the disease progressed.

ii. In the parallel construction ‘the + comparative adjective…, the + comparative adjective…’ to indicate proportionality relationship.

  • The higher the demand for an object is, the higher its price is.
  • The higher the atomic weight of a radioactive substance is, the faster the dissociation rate is.
  1. Superlative adjectives
    When the quality expressed by the adjective is in highest degree, we use a superlative adjective (-est/most adjective).

Study the following examples.

  • Of all the planets in the solar system, Neptune is farthest from the sun.
  • British Aerospace and Defense Corporation, popu-

larly known as BAE Systems, is the world’s largest defense contractor employing more than 25000 employees.

We can superlative adjectives only comparisons including three or more elements. We cannot use superlative when the comparison is between two persons only.

Study the following to understand the following.

* Of the two choices you have suggested, the former is the best one because of its practical applicability.

In the above example, the comparison is between two elements only and thus, superlative adjective is not possible. The following is the corrected version.

* Of the two choices you have suggested, the former is the better one because of its practical applicability.

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