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Adjectives; Degrees of Comparison


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The three degrees of comparison

Look at these three sentences:

Ramesh is a tall boy.

Atul is taller than Ramesh

Vijay is the tallest of the three

The words tall, taller and tallest are three different forms of the adjective tall.

In sentence one, when we say Ramesh is a tall boy, we do not compare him with any other boy.

In sentence two, when we say Atul is taller than Ramesh, we compare two boys – Atul and Ramesh

In sentence three, when we say Vijay is the tallest of the three, we compare more than two boys (three, to be exact).

The word tall is said to be in the positive degree.

The word taller is said to be in the comparative degree.

The word tallest is said to be in the superlative degree.

We use the positive degree of an adjective when we do not make any comparison.

We use the comparative degree of an adjective when we compare two persons or thing (or two groups of persons or thing.

We use the superlative degree with of an adjective when we compare more than two persons or thing (or more than two groups of persons or thing).

Formation of the comparative or superlative degree of adjectives

Rule (1) Most adjectives form their comparative degree by adding –er and their superlative degree by adding –est to the positive.

Rule (2) If the positive ends in –e, we add only –r and –st.

Rule (3) If the positive ends in y and the y has a consonant immediately before it, the y is changed into i before adding –er and –est. But if the y has a vowel before it, it is not changed into i.

Rule (4) If the positive (i) is a word of the one syllable ,(ii) ends in a single consonant , and (iii) has one short vowel before it, the consonant is doubled before adding –er and –est .

Rule (5) Many adjectives of two syllables and all adjectives of more than two, syllables form their comparative by using more before the positive and their superlative by using most before the positive .

Rule (6) some adjectives are compared irregularly; that is, they do not follow any of the rule given above. So we try to remember their comparative and superlative form.


Sample Usage

Examples for Rule (1)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Clever Cleverer Cleverest
Rich Richer Richest

Examples for Rule (2)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Brave Braver Bravest
Nobel Nobler Noblest

Examples for Rule (3)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Easy Easier Easiest
Happy Happier Happiest

Examples for Rule (4)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Thin Thinner Thinnest
Hot Hotter Hottest

Examples for Rule (5)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Beautiful More Beautiful Most Beautiful
Faithful More Faithful Most Faithful

Examples for Rule (6)

Positive Comparative Superlative

Bad Worse Worst
Good Better Best



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