How to Make Comparisons in English

There are some rules to help you make comparisons in English.

1 If the adjective (describing word) is one syllable, you can add -er.

For example, small – smaller; big – bigger; nice – nicer.

2 If the adjective has two syllables, but ends in -y, you can change the end to -ier.

For example, lucky – luckier; happy – happier.

3 With other English adjectives of two syllables and more, you can’t change their endings. Instead, you should use more + adjective.

For example, handsome – more handsome; beautiful – more beautiful and so on.

4 When you compare two things, use ‘than’.

“She’s younger than me.”
“This exercise is more difficult than the last one.”

5 When you want to say something is similar, use ‘as – as’.

For example, “She’s as tall as her brother” or “It’s as nice today as it was yesterday.”

6 When you want to say one thing is less than another, you can either use ‘less than’ or ‘not as – as’.

For example, “This programme is less interesting than I thought” or “This programme is not as interesting as I thought.”

7 Remember that some adjectives are irregular and change form when you make comparisons.

For example, good – better; bad – worse; far – further.

Using qualifying expressions

You can vary the strength of the comparison by using “qualifying” expressions.

1. Comparing two things

You can use “a lot”, “much”, “a little”, “slightly” and “far” before “more / less than”:

“She’s a lot more intelligent than him.”
“This car is much faster than the other one.”
“They are much less wealthy than they used to be.”
“He’s a little taller than his sister.”
“She’s slightly less interested in football than him.
“We are far more involved in charity than they are.”

When you use these qualifying expressions in English, remember the rules about using -er. If the adjective is one syllable, or ends in -y, add -er:

“He’s far taller than her.” (NOT “He’s far more taller…”)
“I’m much lazier than you!”

When the adjective is two syllables and more, you need either “more” or “less”:

“He’s a little more prepared for the exam than she is.” (NOT “He’s a little prepareder…”)

2. Saying how two things are similar

You can use “almost as … as”, “not quite as … as”, “(not) nearly as … as”, “nowhere near as … as”, “twice as … as” and “half as … as” to change the extent of the similarity.

“She’s almost as good as you!”
“He’s not quite as confident as Susie.”
“I’m not nearly as intelligent as her!”
“This painting is nowhere near as famous as the first.”
“She’s twice as old as him!
“He’s half as interesting as you!”

Now try our grammar quiz to test your understanding of comparative forms!