Adjective – Degrees of Comparison
We discussed Adjective and its kinds in the previous post. Today, I will talk about Degrees of Comparison which Adjectives have and this comparison determines the intensity of meaning Adjectives imply for the nouns.
Let’s follow these sentences:
- Paul is a tall student in the class.
- Paul is taller than John
- Paul is the tallest student in the class.
Now, in the above sentences, you can see three different forms of the adjective ‘tall‘. Although, they refer to the height of Paul here, there is a difference in each of the sentences. Let’s check them out.
Paul is a tall student in the class. This sentence means that Paul is a tall student in the class and there may be other students too who are as tall as Paul. The meaning of ‘tall’ here is said in general sense. It’s called the Positive Degree of Adjective.
In the second sentence, ‘Paul is taller than John‘, there is a comparison between two people in terms of their height. Paul wins here and John does not match up with Paul’s height. So, to make this difference of height, we need to use ‘taller‘. This is the Comparative Degree of Adjective (tall). Usually, ‘er‘, ‘r‘, ‘more‘ are used to form a comparative degree of an adjective. However, there are exceptions too. Some examples:
- Honey is sweeter than sugar;
- This book is better than that; (comparative degree of ‘good’)
- His result was worse than last year; (comparative degree of ‘bad’)
- John is more intelligent than Paul in Maths.
In the last sentence, ‘Paul is the tallest student in the class‘, it confirms that there is no student in the class as tall as Paul. He beats all with his height in the class. He is the super-tall boy and no comparison is to be made here. This degree is known as Superlative Degree of Adjective. The intensity of the meaning of an adjective reaches optimum and hence, it stays above all. See some examples.
- Asia is the largest continent in the world. (No other continent is as big as Asia)
- This is the safest route to reach our destination. (Other routes are just unsafe)
- John is the most intelligent boy in the class. (Others just can’t match his intelligence)
- I fared worst in Maths last year. (My other subjects were okay in comparison with Maths)
Note: We need to use a definite article ‘The‘ before a superlative degree of adjective.
So, we’ve seen that there are three forms of adjectives which have three competitive yet similar meaning and all of them are used on certain circumstances only. If there is no comparison, we cannot use the Superlative Degree or the Comparative Degree. There must be two to use the Comparative Degree and at least more than two for the Superlative Degree. I am going to create one table of the most commonly used adjectives and their Degrees of Comparison and publish it in my next article or so. Stay tuned.