Degrees of Comparison

By | July 7, 2021
Degrees of comparison


Degrees of comparison is meant to compare or express similarities or differences of quantity or quality between two persons or things and also among three or more persons or things.

Study the following sentences

  • Noni’s apple is sweet.
  • Nikunj’s apple is sweetest than Noni’s.
  • Aditya’s apple is the sweetest of all.

In sentence (a), the adjective sweet merely tells us that Noni ’s apple has the quality of sweetness, without saying how much of this quality it has.

In sentence (b), the adjective sweeter tells us that Nikunj’s apple compared with Noni’s has more of the quality of sweetness.

In sentence (c), the adjective sweetest tells us that of all these Aditya’s apple has the greatest amount or highest degree of the quality of sweetness. We, thus, see that adjectives change in form (sweet. sweeter, sweetest) to show comparison. They are called the degrees of comparison.

The adjective sweet is said to be in the Positive Degree.

The adjective sweeter is said to be in the Comparative Degree.

The adjective sweetest is said to be in the Superlative Degree.

The Positive Degree is used to denote the mere existence of some quality or quantity of what we speak about. It is used when no comparison is Made, as,

Mridul is a tall boy.

 Vibbuti is an intelligent girl.

The Comparative Degree is used w denotes a higher degree of quality than the positive and is used when two persons or things are compared. As

Ajay is teller than Mridul.

Vibbuti is cleverer than Vrinda.

The Superlative Degree denotes the highest degree of quality and is used when more than two things or persons are compared.

Sonu is the tallest boy of the five.

Vibhuti is the cleverest of all the girls.

Note the following things:

1. The Comparative Degree is generally followed by the conjunction than, as,

  •  Sonu is taller than Ronit.
  • But the comparatives may be used without ‘than’ as
  • We have seen worse days.

2The Superlative Degree is preceded by ‘the’ and is followed by the preposition ‘of ‘ or ‘in’.

  • Rohit is the tallest of all the boys.
  • Kolkata is the biggest town in India.
  • But we see can also say –
  •  Preeti is the most intelligent girl.

Note: the following things:

Formation of Comparative and Superlative

All kinds of adjectives don’t have three different forms. These different forms, in fact, indicate different degrees of quality or quantity. Therefore only adjectives of quality can have three different forms.

1.More adjectives or one syllable and some of more than one form the comparative by adding — er and superlative by adding –est. to the Positive Degree.

        Positive        Comparative      Superlative

  • Bold               bolder                     boldest 
  • deep              deeper                    deepest
  • old                 older                       oldest
  • high               higher                     highest
  •  weak            weaker                   weakest
  • young           younger                  youngest 
  • small            smaller                    smallest

1. When the Positive Degree ends in –e, only –r and –st are added to form the Comparative and Superlative Degree.

          Positive        Comparative      Superlative

  • able                 abler                        ablest
  • fine                  finer                        finest 
  • large               larger                       largest 
  • brave             braver                     bravest
  • wise               wiser                        wisest 
  • White            whiter                      whitest
  • noble             nobler                       noblest
  • truer             truer                         truest

1. When the Positive is a word of one syllable and ends in a Single consonant preceded by a short vowel, this consonant is doubled adding -er or -est. to form the Comparative and Superlative.

        Positive        Comparative    Superlative

  •  big                bigger                    biggest
  •  hot               hotter                    hottest
  • Fat                fatter                     fattest
  • red                redder                   reddest
  • sad                sadder                   saddest
  • thin               thinner                  thinnest
  • wet               wetter                    wettest

1. If the positive ends in-y and the- y is preceded by a Consonant, the – y is changed into -i and -er and –est. are added to form the Comparative and Superlative

          Positive        Comparative       Superlative

  • dry                  drier                         driest
  • heavy             heavier                     heaviest
  • easy                easier                       easiest
  • happy             happier                    happiest
  • pretty             prettier                   prettiest
  • wealthy         wealthier                 wealthiest
  • merry            merrier                    merriest

1. But if the -y is preceded by a vowel, the -y is not changed into -i before adding er or –est

        Positive       Comparative      Superlative

  •  gay              gayer                       gayest
  • grey             greyer                     greyest

1. Adjectives of more than two syllables, and many of those with two forms the comparative by using the adverb more with the positive, and the superlative by using the adverb most with the positive.

             Positive       Comparative         Superlative

  • Intelligent        more intelligent         most intelligent
  • beautiful          more beautiful            most beautiful
  • boring              more boring                most boring
  • careful             more careful               most careful
  • difficult            more difficult              Most difficult
  • proper             more proper               Most proper
  • obscure           more obscure              Most obscure 
  • useful              more useful                 most useful


Some adjectives are compared irregularly, that is their comparative and superlatives are not formed from the positive. 

            Positive               Comparative        Superlative

  • Good, well               better                         best
  • bad,  evil, iII           worse                         worst
  • far (distance)          farther                       farthest
  • far (movement)     further                       furthest
  • fore                          former                        foremost, first
  • little                         less/lesser                 least
  • in                              inner                           inmost, innermost
  • out outer,                utter utmost,            uttermost
  • much (quantity)    More                          Most
  • many (number)     More                          Most
  • up                            Upper                         upmost uppermost 
  • old (of people and things) older              oldest
  • old                           elder                           eldest  (of people only, used for close family relations and can’t be followed by than)


(i)   The words –superior, inferior, senior, junior, prior. Anterior; posterior are always used as Comparative Degree but they are followed by to instead of then as,

  • Ramneek is junior/ senior to me.
  • This cloth is superior/inferior to me.

(ii) Double Comparatives and Double Superlatives should not be used, as,

  • He is cleverer than his sister. (Incorrect)
  • He is cleverer than his sister. (Correct)
  • She is the tallest of all girls. (Incorrect)
  • She is the tallest of all girls: (Correct)

(iii) If an adjective follows the phrase one of, it should be in the superlative degree: as,

  • Gaurav is one of the best boys in our school.
  • Sheena is one of the most intelligent girls in our school.

(iv) When two persons or things are unequal. The comparative ( not the superlative) should be used.

  • This book is better (not best) than that.

(v) When two things or persons of the same kind of quality are to be compared. We should use: as + positive degree + as or no/not + comparative degree + than

  • This boy is as intelligent as that.
  • This boy is no less intelligent than that.

(vi) This is not used when the superlative degree has a possessive, adjective before it.

  • Hari is my best friend.
  • It was his kindest act.

(vii) Preferable has a force of a comparative and is followed by to. We must not say more preferable.

  • Health is preferable to wealth.
  • I prefer tea to coffee,


Adjective Types, Rules, Error Spotting & Exercises

Exercises and Worksheets


Adjectives Worksheets No.1, 2, 3 & 4
Adjectives Exercise No. 5, 6 & 7