Comparative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives with ‘than…’ to compare two or more things or people.

I am older than you.
Paolo is fatter than me!
The Porsche 911 is faster than a BMW 320, but slower than a Ferrari Enzo.


For adjectives with one syllable, or adjectives with two syllables that end with ‘y’ we add ‘er’ to the end of the adjective, with some spelling changes:
Cheap > Cheaper Old > Older Fast > Faster
Large > Larger Wide > Wider
Lucky > Luckier Easy > Easier Pretty > Prettier


For adjectives of two syllables or more we use ‘more’ or ‘less’ plus the base adjective
Intelligent > More intelligent Difficult > More difficult
Expensive > Less expensive Reliable > Less reliable


For some adjectives with 2 syllables we can use either ‘er’ or ‘more..’ or ‘less..’
The most common are:

  • clevercleverer/more clever
  • commoncommoner/more common
  • gentlegentler/more gentle
  • humblehumbler/more humble
  • hollowhollower/more hollow
  • narrownarrower/more narrow
  • politepoliter/more polite
  • quietquieter/more quiet (quieter is more popular)
  • simplesimpler/more simple
  • stupidstupider/more stupid
  • subtlesubtler/more subtle


Some adjectives are irregular:

Good > Better
Bad > Worse
Far > Further


We can use extra words to explain:

  • How big/small the difference is when we compare two things
  • To say that two things are the same, or
  • That one thing has less of a quality than another.

I am 50, you are 26. I am a lot older than you. I am much older than you. (big difference)
I am 28, you are 26. I am a little older than you. I am a bit older than you. (small difference)
I am 26 and you are 26. I am as old as you. I am as young as you. ( = the same)
I am 27, you are 26. You are almost as old as me. I am almost as young as you. (very small difference)
You are 26, I am 50. You are not as old as me. (not as + adjective + as = less than..)

Back to: Pre-Intermediate English