Unit 1: English You Need
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In Learners' Questions in Session 4, Dan looks at the construction as ... as. Here are some notes about that structure and some more on comparatives and superlatives.
Comparatives and Superlatives
Meaning and use
We use comparatives to compare one person or thing with another person or thing.
- My new phone is smaller than my old phone.
- The film is more exciting than the book.
- He’s better than me at tennis.
We use superlatives to compare one person or thing with several other people or things of the same kind. Superlatives tell us which thing or person is the greatest in some way.
- It’s the smallest room in the house.
- We’ve got the cutest dog in the world.
- Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth.
We make comparatives in two ways: by adding -er to an adjective or by putting more in front of the adjective. We often use the word than after the comparative, but not always.
- David is older than Juan.
- Who is more famous – Brad Pitt or Benedict Cumberbatch?
We add add –er to adjectives with one syllable, but if the adjective ends in -e, just add -r.
- old – older
- small – smaller
- nice – nicer
- wide – wider
If an adjective ends in one vowel and one consonant, double the consonant and add -er (except when the final consonant is ‘w’).
- hot – hotter
- big – bigger
- new – newer
- few –fewer
If an adjective has two syllables and ends in -y, change the y to i and add -ier.
- happy – happier
- noisy – noisier
- easy – easier
We put more before other adjectives with two or more syllables.
- Sit in the chair – it’s more comfortable than the sofa.
- A tablet is more useful than a desktop.
Take note: (not) as … as
To say that two things or people are similar in some way, use as + adjective + as.
- I think that skiing is as dangerous as snowboarding.
We can use not as + adjective + as to say that two things or people are not equal in some way.
- Isabel is not as successful as her sister.
We make superlatives in two ways: by adding -est to an adjective or by putting most in front of the adjective. We usually use the before the superlative.
- Usain Bolt is probably the fastest man in the world.
- It’s the cheapest restaurant in town.
If an adjective has one syllable, add -est to form the superlative, but if the adjective already ends in -e, just add –st.
- high – highest
- small – smallest
- nice – nicest
- wide – widest
If an adjective ends in one vowel and one consonant, double the consonant and add -est (except when it ends in –w)
- hot – hottest
- big – biggest
- new – newest
If an adjective has two syllables and ends in -y, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add -est
- happy – happiest
- funny – funniest
We put most before adjectives with two or more syllables.
- It’s the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen.
Take note: superlative and present perfect
We often use the superlative with the present perfect.
- It’s the most delicious meal I’ve ever had.
- Anna is the friendliest girl he’s ever met.
After superlative adjectives, we usually use in, not of.
- He was the tallest person in his family.
Take note: irregular comparatives and superlatives
Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.
good – better – best
bad – worse – worst
- It’s the best film I’ve seen in a long time.
- It’s the worst winter in history.