Comparative Adjectives

A lot of non-native English speakers have difficulty using the comparative form of adjectives, especially knowing when to use more and when to use -er? Luckily, the general rule is easy to follow.

First, you need to count the number of syllables (units of sound). For example, beautiful has 3 syllables: beau-ti-ful, whereas ugly has 2: ug-ly.

1 or 2

Adjectives with 1 or 2 Syllables

Use -er.

  1. She is cleverer than you.                        (cle-ver)
  2. I prefer colder weather.                          (cold)
  3. This coffee shop is much quieter.          (qui-et)

3 +

Adjectives with 3 or more Syllables

Use more or less.

  1. Vancouver is more beautiful in autumn.                    (beau-ti-ful)
  2. Usually, the more confident team wins.                     (con-fi-dent)
  3. Flying is less dangerous than driving a car.              (dan-ger-ous)

Good or Bad

 Good or Bad

As always, there are exceptions to the rules. With the adjectives good and bad, you should use better or worse.

  1. Kingsman is a better film than Inception.
  2. The Liverpool team is worse without Suarez.
  3. I feel better today, thanks.

Double Consonants

Some Adjectives Ending with 1 Vowel + 1 Consonant

Add an extra consonant before -er.

  1. He looks much thinner these days.                        (i + n)
  2. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.               (i + g)
  3. Scotland is a lot wetter than England.                    (e + t)

-y becomes -ier

Adjectives Ending in -y

Replace -y with -ier.

  1. The mashed potato is lumpier than normal.         (lumpy)
  2. Funnier presentations get more attention.           (funny)
  3. My granddad keeps getting grumpier.                 (grumpy)


Irregular Cases

And then there are adjectives that simply don’t follow a pattern. For example, we say more funnot funner. Also, although you can find both in dictionaries, these days more handsome is more frequently used than handsomer.

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