Adjectives

Use and Position

Adjectives are used to describe the quality of things: green, tall, nice, pretty, dark, cold, hot.
They can stand in front of nouns or after the verb "to be". Look at the first example. Here, the adjective is placed in front of the noun:
I like the green shirt.
Look at the second example. A form of "to be" is followed by the adjective:
The shirt is green.
There are a few very important exceptions to that rule. Certain adjectives never stand in front of nouns: afraid, alive, alone, asleep, glad, pleased, sorry, upset, ill, well/fine.
  • She is afraid of spiders. Not possible: The afraid girl.
  • The boy is sorry. Not possible: The sorry boy.
  • The dog is ill. Not possible: The ill dog.

Comparison

There are two ways to compare adjectives, either with -er/-est or with more/most.
The prettiest girl of the evening. A most delicious meal.

Comparison with -er/-est

There are two kinds of adjectives that are compared by adding -er or -est:
  • a) adjectives with only one syllable
  • b) adjectives with two syllables that end on -y
Usually, you simply add -er or -est to the normal adjective.
bright – brighter – brightest
With adjectives like fat, that end on a single vowel and a single consonant, the last letter of the word is duplicated:
fat – fatter – fattest
That is the fattest dog I have ever seen. It is fatter than all the others.
If the adjective normally ends on -e, this letter "e" disappears:
nice – nicer – nicest
My teacher is the nicest teacher in the world. He is nicer than my sister's teacher.
If the adjective ends on -y, the "y" changes to an "i":
happy – happier – happiest
That holiday was the happiest time in my life. I have never been happier.

Comparison with more/most

Adjectives with more than two syllables and adjectives with two syllables that do not end on -y are compared by adding "more" or "most".
"More" or "most" is put in front of the adjective. The adjective does not change.
famous – more famous – most famous
This is the most famous actor of our time. He is even more famous than Brad Pitt.
expensive – more expensive – most expensive
Is this the most expensive wine in your shop? It is more expensive than a pair of trousers.
Some adjectives are irregular. They have special forms for comparison. It is good to memorize them.
   
 
   
 
   
 
good
 
better
 
best
 
bad
 
worse
 
worst
 
far
 
farther/further
 
farthest/furthest
 
much, many, a lot of
 
more
 
most
 
little
 
less
 
least
 
 
Be careful: Don't mix the two different types of comparison. "It was more sunnier yesterday" does not work!

Overview

 
   
 
   
 
   
 
comparison forms
 
number of syllables
 
changes in spelling
 
dark – darker – darkest
 
1 (dark)
 
none
 
happy – happier – happiest
 
2 (hap-py)
 
word-final "y" becomes "i"
 
nice – nicer- nicest
 
1 (nice)
 
word-final "e" disappears
 
famous – more famous – most famous
 
2 (fa-mous)
 
none
 
complicated – more complicated – most complicated
 
4 (com-pli-ca-ted)
 
none
 
 
 

Sentences with comparisons

There are two types of sentences that express a comparison:
Tom is as talented as Mary is.
This first example expresses that Tom and Mary are both equally good at something.
Tom is more talented than Mary.
This second example expresses that Tom is better than Mary.
In the following exercise you can test your knowledge. Fill in the gaps with the right comparison forms!
 
 
  1. I was already ill yesterday, but today I feel even 
    (bad).

     
  2. Tim feels 
    (confident) when he is with his friends.

     
  3. Will you hold this bag for me? It is much 
    (light) than it seems.

     
  4. If you warm up before singing, your voice sounds 
    (loud).

     
  5. On the radio they said it would be sunny today, but actually it was 
    (sunny) yesterday.

     
  6. The weather is good today. This is the 
    (good) day of the week.

     
  7. My mom says that vegetables are 
    (healthy) than sweets.

     
  8. Do you want to watch the soccer game together with me? I think it is 
    (entertaining) if you watch it with other people.

     
  9. I like this bird. I think it is 
    (pretty) than the others.

     
  10. I am always excited on my birthday, but on Christmas Eve I am even 
    (excited).

     
  11. I thought it would help to drink a cup of coffee, but now I am even 
    (tired).

     
 
 
 
 

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