Degrees of Comparison

Hi, everyone! In this video, I’ll explain comparison adjectives and show you how to use them properly. They’re pretty straightforward: when comparing two things, there are different levels, or degrees, of comparison that you can use.

Let’s start with the basic form of the positive adjective: “My computer is fast.”

But let’s say I want to buy a new computer. The salesperson at the store might tell me that computer \(y\) is faster than my computer. Fast is the positive adjective—it just states a property of that object. Faster is a comparative adjective—it, well, compares two nouns.

But what happens if the salesperson tells you about a third computer? We’ll assume it isn’t exactly the same speed, so that means that one of the computers must be the fastest computer. That’s what we call a superlative. Merriam-Webster defines superlative as “constituting the degree of grammatical comparison that denotes an extreme or unsurpassed level or extent.” But that basically just means something is the MOST or the LEAST whatever when you are comparing or contrasting multiple things.

So now we have a computer that’s fast, one that’s faster, and one that’s fastest. These are the three degrees of comparison. Generally speaking, you should use the superlative only when you have three or more things in comparison.

Usually, comparatives will end in -er, and superlatives will end in -est. Let’s look at a few examples:

Positive DegreeComparative DegreeSuperlative Degree
FastFasterFastest
SlowSlowerSlowest
HappyHappierHappiest

There are also a handful of irregular comparatives, such as:

Positive DegreeComparative DegreeSuperlative Degree
BadWorseWorst
GoodBetterBest
LittleLessLeast

You can also create comparative or superlative degrees of comparison with other adjectives or conjunctions, such as “my laptop is as fast as this laptop,” “she is more beautiful,” or “she is the most beautiful.”

Don’t stack comparatives. Don’t say “he cooked more better than she did.” Just say “he cooked better than she did.” Some words, like perfect and unique, are considered absolutes and so cannot be made more or better. That is, you can’t have a “more perfect union.” It’s either perfect or it’s not. You could, however, create a better union.

When you use a comparative, make sure your reader or audience understands what you’re comparing. It may not be clear to say “Jack is taller.” Specifying who Jack is taller than may be helpful.

That’s all! Thanks for watching!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: September 8, 2021