Comparison with Adjectives

by Rob Lane


In this article, we will look at some of the simple forms used for comparison. These patterns are rigid and learners must respect the pattern to avoid typical mistakes. Firstly, we will look at comparisons of similarity, and then comparisons of difference. Comparing difference is much more complex than comparing similarity so learners should be careful with the rules.


Comparing Similarity

X (be) + as + adjective + as Y

Tom is as tall as Sam.


When we use this structure, we are saying that the two things are not different. In this example Tom and Sam are both 180 cm tall.


To change the time, use different forms of the verb be.

The weather in California was as hot as in Spain.

Maria is not as beautiful as Claire.

James has been as busy as Michael.


It is also possible to qualify the sense by using an adverb.

Joe’s car is almost as fast as Pierre’s car.



Comparing Difference

At this point it is necessary to note that the number of syllables and how they end dictates which form we use. You should also note that there are a number of irregularities and points of disagreement for native speakers. You should note that many of the two-syllable adjectives may take the -er or more rule.


The north is colder than the south.

X (be) + (single syllable adjective + er) + than Y


The countryside is more peaceful than the city.

X (be) + more + two-syllable adjective + than Y


Crow Lane is narrower than Brick Lane.

X (be) + two-syllable adjective er/le/ow ending + er + than Y


The next exam will be easier than the last one.

X (be) + two-syllable adjective -y* ending + ier + than Y

change the final -y to ier


The west is more beautiful than the east.

X (be) + more + three-syllable adjective + than Y


Note: some of the most common adjectives have irregular comparative forms.

Good becomes better, bad becomes worse, far becomes farther.



Less can be used with any adjective when comparing difference.

It is less cold in Paris than in Glasgow.

The gallery was less interesting than I had expected.

Silvia is less friendly than Paola.


Far and Much

Both can be used after the verb be to emphasize that there is a great difference.

The south-west of France is much more beautiful than the south-east.

The Spanish are far louder than the Dutch.


You Should

Do repetitive practice with some sections for a practice grammar book to become familiar with the rules and build a good habit.

Do tasks such as comparing life in two countries to contextualize the grammar.