When we compare things, people or even ideas we look at what makes them different from each other.

Comparative adjectives are used to show what quality one thing has more or less than the other. They normally come before any other adjectives.

!Tip - It's a good idea to learn opposites (antonyms) when learning adjectives.

For example:

Tall / Short


The man on the left is taller than the man on the right.
The man on the right is shorter than the man on the left.


!Note - Have you noticed that when we are comparing two things like this we put than between the adjective and the thing being compared.

Fast / Slow

car bicycle

A car is faster than a bicycle.
A bicycle is slower than a car.

For example:

Big / Small

blue bag red bag

The red bag is bigger than the blue bag.
The blue bag is smaller than the red bag.

Forming the comparative

The way you form the comparative from an adjective depends – on the number of syllables and the spelling of the adjective.

Form Rule For example
Words of one syllable ending in 'e'.
Add -r to the end of the word.

wide - wider

For example:-

A motorway is wider than a road.


Words of one syllable, with one vowel and one consonant at the end. Double the consonant and add -er to the end of the word.

big - bigger

For example:-bigger vs smallerhttp://www.leunig.com.au/ - Reproduced with permission.
Words of one syllable, with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end. Add - er to the end of the word. high - higher
Mount Everest is higher than Mount Snowdon.
Words of two syllables, ending in 'y'. Change 'y' to 'i', and add -er to the end of the word. happy - happier

For example:-

Some people seem to be luckier than other people.

Words of two syllables or more, not ending in 'y'. Place 'more' before the adjective. beautiful - more beautiful

For example:-

Arguably Rome is more beautiful than Paris.


!Warning - For every rule, there is at least one exception and there are also irregular adjectives that you need to memorise as you come across them.

For example:-

  • 'good' becomes 'better'
  • 'bad' becomes 'worse'
  • 'far' becomes 'farther' or 'further'

You can find a list of common irregular adjectives here.

!Warning - A lot of people write "then" instead of "than"- avoid it as it's simply not correct, and let's face it, you would be marked down in a test or exam.