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Comparison

Comparison is a way of combining words to express similarities and/or differences between two nouns. Now, if you remember the definition of a noun: it is the name for people, places, things and even ideas. It goes without saying that you can compare all of these, but how?

1) Normal comparison

Now, everybody knows the comparison of adjectives, where

a) you add an -er at the end of a short adjective, OR
b) you use comparative phrases like more + adjective, less + adjective
followed by a phrase or clause introduced by than, which can indicate the 'standard' against which the comparison is made.

Examples:

"Tom is faster than Jim."
"Jim is slower than Tom."
"Jim is less fast than Tom."

Longer adjectives will add more or less in front, keeping the adjective in its original form, followed by than to indicate the standard.

"A Mercedes is more expensive than a Fiat Punto."
"Mary's dress is less beautiful than Katie's."

2) Equal comparison

When the things/people being compared are the same, we use as... as instead of more... than:

Examples:

"Tom is as fast as Jim."
"Jim is as fast as Tom."

We can also negate an equal comparison, by adding not in front of as/so... as:

"Jim is not as fast as Tom."
"Tom is not so slow as Jim."

3) Comparative and Superlative

a) When we only compare two things/people, we use the comparative forms of the adjective:

"Tom is the faster of the two children."
"Jim is the slower of the two children"

b) When we compare more than two things/people, we use the superlative forms fastest, slowest, most expensive, most beautiful, etc.:

"Tom is the fastest of the three."
"Tom is the fastest in this class."

"At $34.65 million, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is the most expensive car in the world right now." [Inside Wealth, CNBC News.com, 14 August 2014]

Now, instead of saying "in the world" as in the example above, we may want to define a different set of things being compared. In this case we use of, followed by a noun phrase:

"The Big Blue" was the best film of the season. (i.e. 'best ... of the films showed during the season')

Sometimes we can place the 'of-phrase' at the beginning of the sentence, if we want to emphasise something:

"Of all the paintings in the gallery, she liked the abstract one most."

If we have a singular noun to define the range of comparison (for example, not 'all the paintings' but 'all my life'), we use in for comparison:

"That was the best moment in my life."
"He was the noblest officer in the regiment."

We can use other constructions to specify the range of comparison with superlatives, as follows:

(i) possessive determiners: my best friend;
(ii) genitives: China's best attractions;
(iii) adjectives: the most appreciated living author;
(iv) relative clauses: the most interesting lecture I ever attended.

There is much more to be said on this matter, for example how do you compare adverbs? Also, I'm sure you all came across some of these special cases of comparison before, not to forget about comparison clauses and phrases, which is another complex way of expressing your ideas about certain things, people and/or ideas.

Try your hand at correcting the following sentences:

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
"He is not so stupid as I thought he was"
"He is cleverer than I thought he was"

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