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

When we talk of adjectives, we normally mean 'descriptive adjectives.' Descriptive adjectives can be categorized into two main groups based on whether they can be modified or compared:

  1. Qualifying Adjectives (comparable adjectives), e.g. big, nice
  2. Classifying Adjectives (non-comparable adjectives) e.g. married, dead

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.

He is taller than most of his classmates.

This solution is more reasonable than the previous one.

They can also be modified by intensifiers and mitigators.

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 with a meaning that cannot be compared or intensified.

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

Warning

Although it is grammatically incorrect to use intensifiers such as very, quite, and most to uncomparable adjectives, you might see 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.

What Modifiers Are Allowed?

You can use these modifiers 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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