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Comparatives and Superlatives

Very often when we compare different objects or events. As we tend to be as colorful as possible, using only comparative or superlative form of adjectives is not always enough.

Because of this, we begin to add adverbs or special constructions such as far, by far, much, a lot, a little etc.

The knowledge of the rules how to use the intensifiers of comparison usually indicates an advanced student.

Edited: 2/12/2023


An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering questions such as how?, in what way?, when?, where?, and to what extent?. This function is called the adverbial function, and may be realized by single words (adverbs) or by multi-word expressions (adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses).

Adverbs are traditionally regarded as one of the parts of speech. However, modern linguists note that the term "adverb" has come to be used as a kind of "catch-all" category, used to classify words with various different types of syntactic behavior, not necessarily having much in common except that they do not fit into any of the other available categories (noun, adjective, preposition, etc.)

License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: wikipedia (1)


In linguistics, an adjective is a describing word, the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified.

Adjectives are one of the English parts of speech, although they were historically classed together with the nouns. Certain words that were traditionally considered to be adjectives, including the, this, my, etc., are today usually classed separately, as determiners.

License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: wikipedia (1)

Comparative and Superlative

Some adjectives are comparable. For example, a person may be polite, but another person may be more polite, and a third person may be the most polite of the three.

The word more here modifies the adjective polite to indicate a comparison is being made, and most modifies the adjective to indicate an absolute comparison (a superlative).

In English, many adjectives can take the suffixes -er and -est (sometimes requiring additional letters before the suffix; see forms for far below) to indicate the comparative and superlative forms, respectively:

  • great, greater, greatest
  • deep, deeper, deepest*

Some adjectives are irregular in this sense:

  • good, better, best
  • bad, worse, worst
  • many, more, most (sometimes regarded as an adverb or determiner)
  • little, less, least

Some adjectives can have both regular and irregular variations:

  • old, older, oldest
  • far, farther, farthest


  • old, elder, eldest
  • far, further, furthest

Another way to convey comparison is by incorporating the words more and most. There is no simple rule to decide which means is correct for any given adjective, however.

The general tendency is for simpler adjectives, and those from Anglo-Saxon to take the suffixes, while longer adjectives and those from French, Latin, Greek do not—but sometimes sound of the word is the deciding factor.

Many adjectives do not naturally lend themselves to comparison. For example, some English speakers would argue that it does not make sense to say that one thing is more ultimate than another, or that something is most ultimate, since the word ultimate is already absolute in its semantics. Such adjectives are called non-comparable or absolute.

Nevertheless, native speakers will frequently play with the raised forms of adjectives of this sort.

Although pregnant is logically non-comparable (either one is pregnant or not), one may hear a sentence like She looks more and more pregnant each day. Likewise extinct and equal appear to be non-comparable, but one might say that a language about which nothing is known is more extinct than a well-documented language with surviving literature but no speakers, while George Orwell wrote All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

These cases may be viewed as evidence that the base forms of these adjectives are not as absolute in their semantics as is usually thought. Comparative and superlative forms are also occasionally used for other purposes than comparison.

In English comparatives can be used to suggest that a statement is only tentative or tendential: one might say John is more the shy-and-retiring type, where the comparative more is not really comparing him with other people or with other impressions of him, but rather, could be substituting for on the whole.

License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: wikipedia (1)

B2 / Upper Intermediate

A CEFR B2 level English language user is considered to be at Upper intermediate level. A B2 level English language user is expected to have the following abilities:

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning.
  • Can express themselves fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

In summary, at B2 level, English language users are expected to have a high level of fluency and comprehension, with the ability to understand and produce complex language. They should be able to communicate effectively in a variety of settings, both social and professional. They should be able to use the language flexibly and with a high degree of accuracy.

B2 | Upper Intermediate.

Difficulty: Hard

Hard difficulty. Difficulty levels represent author's opinion about how hard a question or challenge is.