Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives adverbs and verbs, but what if we want to make a comparison between things by using these adverbs? Read more.

"Comparative and Superlative Adverbs" in the English Grammar

What Are Comparative and Superlative Adverbs?

Adverbs like adjectives, can have comparative and superlative forms.
Comparative adverbs are used to compare the degree or intensity of an action or state between two things. Superlative adverbs, on the other hand, are used to compare the degree or intensity of an action or state among three or more things, expressing the highest or lowest degree.

Which Adverbs Can Have Comparative Forms?

It's important to understand that not all adverbs can form a comparative degree. Only gradable adverbs, which denote a quality that can have different degrees of intensity, can be used in a comparative degree. For example, 'slowly' is a gradable adverb, as one can walk slowly, very slowly, or extremely slowly.
However, some adverbs like 'really', 'completely', and 'totally' are non-gradable adverbs. They do not denote a quality that can have different degrees of intensity, and therefore cannot be used to make comparisons.

Adverbs: Degrees of Comparison

Some adverbs can be used in three different degrees of comparison:

  1. the positive degree
  2. the comparative degree
  3. the superlative degree

Positive Degree

The positive degree is the base form of an adjective or adverb, which denotes a quality or action without making any comparison. For example:

  • slowly
  • naturally
  • gradually
  • well
  • fast
  • hard

Comparative Degree

The comparative degree of an adverb is used to compare the degree or intensity of one action or state to another, expressing a higher or lower degree of the adverb. Let's see how they are formed:

Comparative: One-syllable Adverbs

When the adverb has only one syllable, the suffix -er is added to make it comparative. For example:

  • fast → faster
  • hard → harder
  • late → later
  • low → lower
  • near → nearer
  • high → higher

Comparative: Two-syllable Adverbs

If the adverb has two or more syllables, the determiner 'more' is added before the adverb to make it comparative. For example:

  • carefully → more carefully
  • happily → more happily
  • sadly → more sadly
  • slowly → more slowly
  • quickly → more quickly
  • beautifully → more beautifully

You can also use the determiner 'less' before the adverb to suggest a lower degree of the action or state. For example:

  • sadly → less sadly
  • slowly → less slowly
  • quickly → less quickly

Comparative: Irregular Adverbs

Some adverbs have irregular comparative degree forms, which means their form completely changes when forming comparative adverbs. For example:

  • well → better
  • badly → worse
  • little → less
  • much → more
  • far → further/farther

Comparative Adverbs: Informal Forms

In informal contexts, native speakers may sometimes drop the '-ly' from adverbs, including their comparative forms. However, this is considered nonstandard or incorrect. It is recommended to use the standard form of the adverb, especially in formal situations.

Standard/correct Nonstandard/incorrect
loudly/more loudly loud/louder
quickly/more quickly quick/quicker
slowly/more slowly slow/slower

using the comparative form of the adverb 'fast'

Comparative Degree: Using 'than'

When comparing two persons or things, 'than' is typically used between them.

He got a better score than me; he studied much harder than me.

However, in formal English, it is also possible to use a subject pronoun with an auxiliary or modal verb after 'than' instead of an object pronoun. For example:

He got a better score than I did; he studied much harder than I did.

Comparative Degree: Using 'as … as'

The structure [as + adverb + as] is used to express that two persons or things are equal or not equal in degree or intensity. For example:

I work as hard as any other student in my class.

Shyla cannot sing as beautifully as her sister.

Superlative Degree

The superlative degree of an adverb is used to compare the degree or intensity of one action or state to all others in the same category, expressing the highest or lowest degree of the adverb. Let's see how we can make this form:

Superlative: One-syllable Adverbs

When the adverb has only one syllable, the suffix -est is added to make it superlative. For example:

  • fast → fastest
  • hard → hardest
  • late → latest
  • low → lowest
  • near → nearest
  • high → highest

Superlative: Two-syllable Adverbs

If the adverb has two or more syllables, the determiner 'most' is added before the adverb to make it superlative. For example:

  • carefully → most carefully
  • happily → most happily
  • sadly → most sadly
  • slowly → most slowly
  • quickly → most quickly
  • beautifully → most beautifully

You can also use the determiner 'least' before the adverb to suggest a minimal degree of the action or state. For example:

  • sadly → least sadly
  • slowly → least slowly
  • quickly → least quickly

Superlative: Irregular Adverbs

Some adverbs have irregular superlative degree forms:

  1. well → best
  2. badly → worst
  3. little → least
  4. far → furthest/farthest

Double Comparative/Superlative

It is important to avoid making the mistake of using a double comparative or superlative. This error is more common with comparative and superlative adjectives, but can also occur with adverbs. Py attention to the following examples:

Without a doubt, the last question on the test was the most hardest.

Here you can see a double superlative. 'Hardest' is the superlative form of 'hard.' So, sing the determiner 'most' is incorrect..

Review

Each adverb has three aspects one is the positive form which is the normal form of the adverb the other is the comparative form which shows how an adverb is in the prior level and the last one is the superlative form of an adverb. To make superlative adverbs there are three possibilities:

  • one-syllable adverbs
  • two-syllable adverbs
  • irregular adverbs

Comments

Loading recaptcha

You might also like

Adverbs

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
Adverbs are words that can modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. So if you are not familiar with the concept of adverbs yet, read this.

Adverb Placement and Order

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
We can put adverbs at the front, in the middle, or at the end of a clause. Each can have its own function. We'll also learn about the orders of adverbs.

Types of Adverbs

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
Adverbs give us a description of a verb in a sentence. There are five basic types of adverbs in the English language.

Adverbs of Place

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
Adverbs of place help us express where the verb is taking place. Using them will help us be more accurate about locations.

Adverbs of Time

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
'Adverbs of time' give you some information about the time something happened. Using them will help us add details about time to our sentences.

Adverbs of Frequency

bookmark
In order to add to your bookmarks you must sign in to your account
Adverbs of frequency show us how often an action takes place. We use them commonly in daily English so, it is essential to learn them. Read here.
LanGeek
Download LanGeek app