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What Are Comparative Adjectives? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: T.J. Hoogsteen

T.J. is currently a grade 5 teacher and Vice-Principal. He has a master's degree in Educational Administration and is working toward an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

This lesson will talk about comparative adjectives and define what they are. It will also cover the rules for adding suffixes to create comparative adjectives from regular adjectives and give some examples.

Comparing Things

Imagine having to explain these pictures to a friend:

Sun and Dark

How would you describe the two images? How are they the same? How are they different?

There is a very good chance that when you describe the pictures to your friend, you will use a class of words called comparative adjectives. These are just like regular adjectives in that they describe nouns. However, comparative adjectives go one step further--they help us compare two nouns to each other.

Comparative Adjectives

All comparative adjectives come from a base adjective; they just take a slightly different form. To make an adjective take a comparative form, a suffix gets added to the end of the word. The suffix used and how the word changes depends on five rules:

1. If the adjective has only one syllable, add -er to the end, and that creates the comparative form. For example, dark becomes darker, and small becomes smaller.

2. If the adjective has two syllables and ends with the letter y, drop the y, and add -ier. For example, sunny becomes sunnier, and funny becomes funnier.

3. For adjectives that have two syllables but don't end in the letter y, use the word more before the adjective. For example, orange becomes more orange, and yellow becomes more yellow.

4. The fourth rule is very similar to the third rule. If an adjective has three or more syllables, use the word more before it. For example, beautiful becomes more beautiful, and incredible becomes more incredible.

5. Finally, if the word is a CVC word (a three-letter word made up of a consonant, vowel, consonant), double the last consonant, and add -er. For example, big becomes bigger, and hot becomes hotter.

Using Comparative Adjectives in a Sentence

There is one more important thing to remember about comparative adjectives--how to use them in a sentence. Usually, a sentence that uses comparative adjectives includes the word than. Next are some examples; think about how the comparative adjectives were formed as you read the sentences:

  • The dog is smellier than the cat. (drop the y on smelly, add -ier)
  • The cat is smaller than the dog. (add -er to small)
  • The salad is healthier than the pizza. (drop the y on healthy, add -ier)
  • The crayon is more purple than the grapes. (use 'more' before purple)
  • The salsa was hotter than I thought! (double the last consonant, add -er)

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