TOEIC Grammar Guide – Comparative and Superlative
Adjectives and adverbs can be used to make comparisons. They are used to show what is different or similar about two or more things. There are three kinds of possible comparisons: equal, comparative and superlative.
Learning Hint:Forming the comparative and superlative forms usually depends on the number of syllables in the adjective. Learn the rules for each type of adjective and adverb. Do not combine the two ways of forming comparisons in a single sentence.
An adjective or adverb is used to show that two things share a quality in the same amount. A quality shared in the same amount means that the two things are equal is some way. The form used to make this kind of comparison is as adjective / adverb as. The as as comparison is better known as a correlative conjunction.
Our boss is as friendly as yours.
Her vacation lasted as long as her boyfriends vacation.
He works as efficiently as you.
His computer can download files as fast as their computer does.
To show a difference or to show that there is only a similarity between two things, the comparative form must be used. An adjective or adverb is made into the comparative form in one of two ways. The way that is used depends on the number of syllables the adjective or adverb have:
She is the shorter of the two sisters.
She is shorter than her sister.
This fax machine is newer than that one.
The manager wants to be more popular than the previous one.
We finished our project faster than they finished theirs.
The new copier prints pages more quickly than the old one.
He understands the course more easily than her.
The word than is usually used following the comparative form in a sentence.
Note: Never mix the two ways to form the comparative.
Incorrect: She gets lots of benefits because she's been here more longer.
Correct: She gets lots of benefits because she's been here longer.
Incorrect: He works more quicklier than us.
Correct: He works more quickly than us.
If the comparison is between three or more things then the superlative form must be used. An adjective or adverb is made into the superlative form in one of two ways. The way that is used depends on the number of syllables contained in the adjective or adverb:
This office is the most modern one in the building.
She is the youngest employee in the company to be promoted.
(Note: She is being compared to all other employees at the company.)
She can find files the most quickly.
He spoke the most forcefully at the meeting.
The word the is always used before the superlative form in a sentence.
Note: Never mix the two ways to form the superlative.
Incorrect: He was the most wisest man I ever knew.
Correct: He was the wisest man I ever knew.
Incorrect: She types the most fastest out of all the secretaries.
Correct: She types the fastest out of all the secretaries.
Irregular Adjectives and Adverbs
There are some irregular adjectives and adverbs. They do not make the comparative or superlative the same way that other ones do. They do not use either -er / -est or more / most. Their comparative and superlative forms have to be remembered:
This program is better than the previous ones.
This program is the best of all.
Incorrect: The software we bought the muchest of came from an online supplier.
Correct: The software we bought the most of came from an online supplier.
Incorrect: She has to travel the far of anyone in the office.
Correct: She has to travel the farthest of anyone in the office.
Words with No Comparative and Superlative Forms
Not ALL adjectives and adverbs can have a comparative or superlative form.
No type of comparison is possible with certain adjectives and adverbs. They cannot show a greater or lesser amount, so they can only have one form. Some of these words are perfect, unique, dead, impossible, and infinite.
Incorrect: He was the most unique president we had.
Correct: He was a unique president.
(Unique means one of a kind. There is no other like it, so it is not possible for one president to be more or less unique than another one.)
Parallel Structure Required
The comparisons must make sense. You cannot compare things that are very different. They must be similar. Apples and oranges are both fruits, but they are still two different kinds of fruit. So, an apple cannot be compared to an orange.
Incorrect: Michael's computer is much older than Will.
(Comparing a computer to a person.)
Correct: Michael's computer is much older than Will's computer.
(Comparing one computer to another.)
Incorrect: The English that is spoken in Canada is close to the United States.
(Comparing a language to a country.)
Correct: The English that is spoken in Canada is close to that of the United States.
(Comparing the English spoken in two countries.)