6 rules for comparative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives when we are comparing two different things. This lesson covers the 6 rules for comparative adjectives, so make sure you know them all!

Examples of comparative adjectives:

  • Dogs are smaller than horses.
  • Learning grammar is more difficult than vocabulary.
  • I have to get up earlier than my classmates because I live far from school.

Syllables and comparative adjectives

To understand the rules for using comparative adjectives, you will need to know the meaning of a syllable.
A syllable is a single sound. For example, ‘goodbye’ has two syllables – ‘good’ and ‘bye’.
Here are some more examples:

1 syllable words: hot, cold, dry
2 syllable words: happy, tired
3 syllable words: excited, exhausted

When making comparative adjectives, there are 6 rules you need to remember:

Comparative adjectives rule 1 of 6:

With adjectives with one syllable, simply add +er than
For example:
tall > taller than
fast > faster than
high > higher than

Comparative adjectives rule 2 of 6:

If the adjective ends in +y, remove the -y and add +ier than
For example:
happy > happier than
angry > angrier than
busy > busier than

Comparative adjectives rule 3 of 6:

Adjectives that already end in +e only have +r than added.
For example:
nice > nicer than
safe > safer than
late > later than

Comparative adjectives rule 4 of 6:

We add more…than to words with 3 syllables or more.
For example:
intelligent > more intelligent than
beautiful > more beautiful than
interesting > more interesting than

Comparative adjectives rule 5 of 6

Some 2 syllable adjectives have +er than and some have more…than. Some 2 syllable adjectives can also be used both ways. NOTE: 2 syllable adjectives that end in -y, -le, and -er often form the comparative by adding +er.
For example:
honest > more honest than
clever > more clever than OR cleverer than
modern > more modern than

Comparative adjectives rule 6 of 6:

Adjectives that end with a consonant, then a vowel, then a consonant need the consonant doubled.
For example:
big > bigger than (not biger than)
hot > hotter than (not hoter than)
fat > fatter than (not fater than)

Now test your skills with the quick exercise on the next page!

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