Adjectives and Adverbs: Forms for Comparison



A common error in using adjectives and adverbs arises from using the wrong form for comparison.

Incorrect:  She is the poorest of the two women.

Correct:
She is poor. (positive form)
She is the poorer of the two women. (comparative form/two items)
She is the poorest of them all. (superlative form/more than two)

Many one- and two-syllable adjectives and one-syllable adverbs may be compared by adding ‑er or ‑est.

Examples:
sweet, sweeter, sweetest
high, higher, highest
silly, sillier, silliest
big, bigger, biggest

Usually, with words of three or more syllables, don’t add ‑er or ‑est. Use more or most in front of the words. Never use both the ‑er or ‑est suffix and more or most.

Example:  efficient, more efficient, most efficient

Incorrect:
He is efficienter at using the PowerPoint program than his boss is.
He is more efficienter at using the PowerPoint program than his boss is.

Correct:  He is more efficient at using the PowerPoint program than his boss is.

Some words have irregular comparative and superlative forms.

Examples:
bad, worse, worst
good, better, best

Incorrect:  She is the best candidate of the two for the job.

Correct:  She is the better candidate of the two for the job.

When comparing most ‑ly adverbs, keep the ‑ly and add more or most.

Incorrect:  She spoke quicker than he did.

Correct:
She spoke quickly.
She spoke more quickly than he did.

Incorrect:  Talk quieter.

Correct:
Talk quietly.
Talk more quietly.

 

Pop Quiz

Fix the incorrect sentences.

1. She is even curiouser than her little brother.
2. I can run more faster than you can.
3. I can run more quickly than you can.
4. My brother is the youngest of the two of us.
5. She is the best of the two sisters at braiding hair.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. She is even more curious than her little brother.
2. I can run faster than you can.
3. I can run more quickly than you can. CORRECT
4. My brother is the younger of the two of us.
5. She is the better of the two sisters at braiding hair.

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at 11:00 pm

If you wish to respond to another reader's question or comment, please click its corresponding "REPLY" button. If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

4 Comments on Adjectives and Adverbs: Forms for Comparison

4 responses to “Adjectives and Adverbs: Forms for Comparison”

  1. Judy Black says:

    Regarding: Many one- and two-syllable adjectives and one-syllable adverbs may be compared by adding ‑er or ‑est.

    In the USA, the use of FAR is more complex (and disputed).
    When referring to physical distance: far, farther, farthest.
    When referring to non-figurative distances: far, further, furthest.

  2. Greg Olsen says:

    Although I agree with what’s posted here, I really believe some of these pedantic, senseless and from a time gone by rules have to go.

    Many will say and write “quicker” rather than “more quickly.” It’s fewer letters, one fewer word, consistent with other use, and it’s universally understood. More quickly, is white-glove, blue-hair fussy.

    Same with poorer. She is the poorer of the two women sounds wrong.

    English is hard enough (queue. phonics, and lisp are three of many abominable words — I mean, really — who was so cruel to put an “s” in “lisp”?)

Leave a Comment or Question:

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *