In grammar, the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another, and is used in this context with a subordinating conjunction, such as than,, etc.[1] If three or more items are being compared, the corresponding superlative needs to be used instead.



The structure of a comparative in English consists normally of the positive form of the adjective or adverb, plus the suffix -er, or (in the case of polysyllabic words borrowed from foreign languages) the modifier more (or less/fewer) before the adjective or adverb. The form is usually completed by than and the noun which is being compared, e.g. "He is taller than his father", or "The village is less picturesque than the town nearby". Than is used as a subordinating conjunction to introduce the second element of a comparative sentence while the first element expresses the difference, as in "Our new house is larger than the old one", "There is less water in Saudi Arabia than in the United States", "There are fewer people in Canada than in California."

Some adjectives and adverbs that deal with the concept of distance use the modifiers further and furthest (or farther and farthest) instead of more, for example, "The boy ran further away" or "The expedition was the furthest up the river ever recorded".

Two-clause sentences

For sentences with the two clauses other two-part comparative subordinating conjunctions may be used:[2][3]

  1.   "The house was as large as two put together."
  2. not so / not as   "The coat of paint is not as [not so] fresh as it used to be."
  3. the same ... as   "This car is the same size as the old one."
  4. less / more ... than   "It cost me more to rent than I had hoped."


In English, adverbs are usually formed by adding -ly to the end of an adjective. In the comparative, more (or less) is added before the adverb, as in "This sofa seats three people more comfortably than the other one." Some irregular adverbs such as fast or hard do not use more, but add an -er suffix, as the adjectives do. Thus: "My new car starts faster than the old one" or "She studies harder than her sister does."

For some one-syllable adjectives, the comparative of adjectives may be used interchangeably with the comparative of adverbs, with no change in meaning: "My new car starts more quickly than the old one" or "My new car starts quicker than the old one".

However, if the adjective has an irregular comparative, then the adverb must use it: "She writes better than I do" or "He threw the ball farther than his brother did."

Null comparative

The null comparative is a comparative in which the starting point for comparison is not stated. These comparisons are frequently found in advertising.

For example, in typical assertions such as "our burgers have more flavor", "our picture is sharper" or "50% more", there is no mention of what it is they are comparing to. In some cases it is easy to infer what the missing element in a null comparative is. In other cases the speaker or writer has been deliberately vague in this regard, for example "Glasgow's miles better".


Scientific classification, taxonomy and geographical categorization conventionally include the adjectives greater and lesser, when a large or small variety of an item is meant, as in the greater celandine as opposed to the lesser celandine. These adjectives may at first sight appear as a kind of null comparative, when as is usual, they are cited without their opposite counterpart. It is clear however, when reference literature is consulted that an entirely different variety of animal, scientific or geographical object is intended. Thus it may be found, for example, that the lesser panda entails a giant panda variety, and a gazetteer would establish that there are the Lesser Antilles as well as the Greater Antilles.

It is in the nature of grammatical conventions evolving over time that it is difficult to establish when they first became widely accepted, but both greater and lesser in these instances have over time become mere adjectives (or adverbial constructs), so losing their comparative connotation.

When referring to metropolitan areas, Greater indicates that adjacent areas such as suburbs are being included. Although it implies a comparison with a narrower definition that refers to a central city only, such as Greater London versus the City of London, or Greater New York versus New York City, it is not part of the "comparative" in the grammatical sense this article describes. A comparative always compares something directly with something else.


  1. ^ John Sinclair, (ed. in chief) (1987) "Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary", Collins ELT. ISBN 0-00-375021-3 for the definition subordinating conjunction
  2. ^ Tom McArthur (1992) "The Oxford Companion to the English Language", Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-214183-X
  3. ^ Marco Sucupira Language Materials for the forms of comparisons

See also

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Comparative — Com*par a*tive, a. [L. comparativus: cf. F. comparatif.] 1. Of or pertaining to comparison. The comparative faculty. Glanvill. [1913 Webster] 2. Proceeding from, or by the method of, comparison; as, the comparative sciences; the comparative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • comparative — com·par·a·tive /kəm par ə tiv/ adj: characterized by systematic comparison comparative contribution, which apportions according to...respective fault W. L. Prosser and W. P. Keeton com·par·a·tive·ly adv Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law.… …   Law dictionary

  • Comparative — Com*par a*tive, n. (Gram.) The comparative degree of adjectives and adverbs; also, the form by which the comparative degree is expressed; as, stronger, wiser, weaker, more stormy, less windy, are all comparatives. [1913 Webster] In comparatives… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • comparative — [kəm par′ə tiv] adj. [ME < L comparativus] 1. that compares; involving comparison as a method, esp. in a branch of study [comparative linguistics] 2. estimated by comparison with something else; relative [a comparative success] 3. Gram.… …   English World dictionary

  • comparative — mid 15c., from M.Fr. comparatif, from L. comparativus pertaining to comparison, from comparatus, pp. of comparare (see COMPARISON (Cf. comparison)). Originally grammatical; general sense is from c.1600; meaning involving different branches of a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • comparative — [adj] approximate, close to allusive, analogous, approaching, by comparison, comparable, conditional, connected, contingent, contrastive, correlative, corresponding, equivalent, in proportion, like, matching, metaphorical, near, not absolute, not …   New thesaurus

  • comparative — ► ADJECTIVE 1) measured or judged by comparison; relative. 2) involving comparison between two or more subjects or branches of science. 3) (of an adjective or adverb) expressing a higher degree of a quality, but not the highest possible (e.g.… …   English terms dictionary

  • comparative — com|par|a|tive1 [kəmˈpærətıv] adj 1.) comparative comfort/freedom/wealth etc comfort etc that is quite good when compared to how comfortable, free, or rich etc something or someone else is = ↑relative ▪ After a lifetime of poverty, his last few… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • comparative — [[t]kəmpæ̱rətɪv[/t]] comparatives 1) ADJ: ADJ n You use comparative to show that you are judging something against a previous or different situation. For example, comparative calm is a situation which is calmer than before or calmer than the… …   English dictionary

  • comparative — 1 adjective 1 comparative comfort/freedom/wealth etc comfort, freedom etc that is fairly satisfactory when compared to another state of comfort etc: After a lifetime of poverty, his last few years were spent in comparative comfort. 2 comparative… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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