Comparable and Non-comparable Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are categorized into two main groups including: classifying adjectives and qualifying adjectives. We will learn more in this lesson.

Comparable and Non-comparable Adjectives

What Are Comparable and Non-comparable Adjectives?

Based on whether adjectives can be compared using comparative and superlative forms, they can be categorized as comparable and non-comparable adjectives. Comparable adjectives (also called qualifying adjectives) are adjectives that can be compared using comparative and superlative forms. Non-comparable adjectives (also called classifying adjectives), on the other hand, are adjectives that cannot be compared using comparative and superlative forms.

What Are Comparable Adjectives?

Comparable adjectives are those that can be modified by '-er/more' or '-est/most'. In other words, they can have comparative and superlative forms. Pay attention to the examples:

He is taller than most of his classmates.

This solution is more reasonable than the previous one.

Comparable adjectives can also be modified by intensifiers and mitigators. For example:

She is really smart.

I'm very grateful.

But we cannot say:

She is very dead.

She is more married.

Common Comparable Adjectives

'tall' is a comparable adjectives

Here are some of the most common comparable adjectives:

  1. heavy
  2. soft
  3. fast
  4. good
  5. expensive
  6. large
  7. big
  8. calm
  9. beautiful
  10. smart

What Are Non-comparable Adjectives?

Non-comparable Adjectives (also called absolute adjectives) are adjectives that cannot be compared using comparative and superlative forms. These adjectives describe qualities that are considered to be fixed or inherent.
We cannot use '-er/more' or '-est/most' with non-comparable adjectives. Also, we cannot use intensifiers or mitigators with them.

Common Non-comparable Adjectives

Here are some of the most common non-comparable adjectives:

  1. absolute
  2. married
  3. single
  4. pregnant
  5. extra
  6. ultra
  7. false
  8. dead
  9. universal
  10. impossible


Although it is grammatically incorrect to use intensifiers such as very, quite, and most with uncomparable adjectives, you might encounter it in informal contexts.

This is a very unique room to study.

People sometimes use 'very' with 'unique', but this use is often considered to be incorrect.

Which Modifiers Are Allowed?

The following modifiers can be used with absolute adjectives in informal contexts:

  • absolutely
  • totally
  • completely

Take a look at some examples:

The story is absolutely true.

This is completely impossible.


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