What is a Comparative Adjective? Definition, Examples of Comparatives

Comparative Adjective Definition: A comparative adjective is an adjective that compares the traits of two nouns side-by-side.

What is a Comparative Adjective?

Adjectives are words used to describe nouns, and when a writer wishes to compare the descriptions of two nouns side-by-side, it requires the use of a comparative adjective.

Comparative Adjective Examples:

  • The tree in the front yard is taller than the one in the backyard.
    • Taller = comparative adjective that is used to compare the height of the two trees
  • Christina often bragged that she was prettier than her classmates.
    • Prettier = comparative adjective that is used to compare the looks of Christina and her classmates.

Forming Comparatives

what is a comparative wordIn English, there are different ways to turn a word into a comparative adjective, depending on the adjective you are using.

One-syllable words: you simply add –er to the end of the word in order to form a comparative adjective.

  • Tall becomes taller
  • Smart becomes smarter

Two syllable words not ending in “y”: include the word “more” before the adjective

  • Anxious = more anxious
  • Charming = more charming

Two syllable words that end in “y”: drop the “y” and add –ier

  • Pretty = prettier
  • Clumsy = clumsier

With three or more syllable words: include the word “more” before the adjective

  • Mysterious = more mysterious
  • Disgusting = more disgusting

Ending in consonant-vowel-consonant: If your word ends with the pattern of consonant-vowel-consonant, you will want to double up the ending consonant before you add –er to the end.

  • Big = bigger
  • Sad = sadder
  • Fat = fatter

Irregular Comparatives

comparative adjective meaningWhile most comparative adjectives can be formed using the methods above, irregular comparative do exist in English.

Examples of Irregular Comparative Adjectives:

  • good = better
  • bad = worse
  • little = less
  • much = more

What is the Difference Between Comparative and Superlative Adjectives?

Comparative vs. Superlative Adjectives: While comparative adjectives are used to make comparisons between two nouns, superlative adjectives are used for comparisons of three or more nouns.

Superlative adjectives compare qualities of nouns from greatest to least degree.

Superlative Adjective Examples:

  • I have the tallest tree in the neighborhood.
    • tallest = superlative showing the tree is at the top of limits in comparison to the others.
  • Lindsey is the least charming real estate agent.
    • least charming = superlative showing that Lindsey is at the bottom of the limits in comparison to the other agents.

Beware of Double Comparatives

meaning of comparative adjectiveOccasionally, writers will get overzealous with their desire to describe, which can create a double comparative, which should never appear in your writing.

For example, here is a double comparative along with two options for fixing it.

  • Jason was more smarter than the students in his class.
    • More smarter = double comparative.

To fix this, delete “more” and only use the comparative adjective, smarter.

  • Jason was smarter than the students in his class.

Or, use a superlative instead of a comparative adjective.

  • Jason was the smartest student in the class.

Summary: What are Comparative Adjectives?

Define comparative adjective: In summary, comparative adjectives are used when the writer is showing the differences between a quality that two nouns possess.

  • Michelle is more fashionable than her older sister.
    • more fashionable = comparative adjective