As a user of language, there are essential facts you must note in the use of comparison of adjectives. Consider the processes one after the other below. They are positive, comparative and superlative degrees.
Positive Degrees of Comparison of Adjectives
- Positive degrees of comparison of adjectives are described as the base/root words which appear before verbs (predicative adjectives). Study them below.
(a) Positive degree can follow the immediate auxiliary verbs ‘is’, ‘are’, ‘was’, ‘were’. For example:
(i) Those boys are clever.
(ii) Your uniform is dirty.
(iii) The food was luscious.
(iv) The students were many.
As predictive adjectives, the positive degree of:
(i) dirty occurs after the auxiliary is.
(ii) luscious occurs after the auxiliary was.
(iii) many occurs after the auxiliary were.
(iv) clever occurs after the auxiliary are.
(b) Positive degrees can also follow the auxiliaries ‘be’, ‘being’ ‘been’ in the sentences. For example:
(i) That must be interesting.
(ii) You have been wonderful.
(iii) He is being murdered.
The positive degrees above are predicative adjectives because:
interesting occurs after the auxiliary be.
wonderful occurs after the auxiliary been.
murdered occurs after the auxiliary being.
(c) Positive degrees can follow the immediate linking verbs. For example:
(i) The environment seems boring.
(ii) Busayo looks beautiful
(iii) You always appear neat.
(iv) Her stew smelled sour.
The predicative adjectives as positive degrees above occur as follows:
(i) boring after the linking verb seems.
iii) beautiful after the linking verb looks.
(iii) neat after the linking verb appear.
(iv) sour after the linking verb smelled.
(d) Positive degrees can be pre-modified by the words ‘very’ or ‘so’.
(i) The story is very interesting.
(ii) You are so good.
In the sentences above, the intensifiers very and so occur after the auxiliaries is and are. This means that it is possible for predicative adjectives to be pre-modified by the intensifiers.
(e) It should be noted that no positive degree of comparison of adjectives should admit the inflection ‘s’, ‘es’ or ‘ies’. They are not nouns but adjectives. Therefore, don’t say:
(i) She is very faithfuls.
(ii) The students were manys.
(iii) Those boys are honests.
Also, no adjective must be used as past form by adding the inflections ‘-d’ or ‘-ed’. Therefore, don’t say:
(i) He is clerevered.
(ii) Our home was peacefulled.
(iii) Those subjects are difficulted and complexed.
(g) Don’t use adjectives in the position of verbs. They cannot follow the subjects immediately. Therefore:
(i) Olu serious about it.
(ii) They famous throughout the world.
(i) Olu is serious about it.
(ii) They are famous throughout the world.
Comparative Degrees of Comparison of Adjectives
Recall that comparative degrees are divided into two categories, namely: regular and irregular adjectives. Note the following:
(a) That the only two things, places or persons can be compared by comparative degrees of adjectives. For example:
(i) Ade is wiser than Bola.
(ii) The tiger runs faster than the lion.
In the examples above, ‘Ade’ is compared to ‘Bola’ in terms of wisdom while ‘the tiger’ is compared to ‘the lion’ in terms of fastness.
(b) In the comparative adjectives, if pronouns tend to occur after the word ‘than’ such pronouns must be subjective cases. For example:
(i) Tola is clever than he. Don’t say:than him.
(ii) You are more brilliant than they. Don’t say:than them.
(iii) Eke is neater than you.
(c) In some cases, two clauses can be compared. The verb in the first clause must agree with the verb in the second. For example:
(i) Timmy is more timid than you are. Don’t say: ‘than you do’
(ii) I can run faster than he can. Don’t say: ‘than he is’
(ii) Charles runs faster than she does. Don’t say: ‘than she was/is.
In sentence (i), the first clause contains the auxiliary ‘is’ and the second clause contains the auxiliary ‘are’. In sentence (ii), the first clause contains the modal auxiliary ‘can’ and the second clause contains the same auxiliary verb. In sentence (iii), the first clause has the lexical verb ‘runs’ and the second clause also has the lexical verb ‘does’ as agreed with their subjects.
(d) If the verb of the first clause is present, the verb of the second clause should be present but if the verb is past in the first clause, then the verb should be past in the second clause. Look at the following examples.
(i) Adams was better than she was. Don’t Say: ‘than she is’
(ii) Moses and John are more helpful than he is. Don’t say: ‘than was’ .
(iii) The man reacted wiser than I did. Don’t say: ‘I do’.
(e) Possessive pronouns are also possible after the word ‘than’ for comparison successively. However, the subject of the sentences must agree with the possessive pronouns you will choose to use. For example:
(i) My pen is sharper than yours.
(ii) Their books are more readable than ours.
(iii) Her handwriting is more legible than his.
(f) Apostrophe (‘s) genitive with the noun can also occur after the word ‘than’. But the nouns receiving apostrophe (‘s) must agree with the idea of subjects. For example:
(i) Lagos’ disasters are more terrible than Ibadan’s.
(ii) Your performance is worse than Sola’s.
‘… than Ibadan’s means ‘…than Ibadan’s disasters.’
‘… than Sola’s means ‘… than Sola’s performance.’
(g) Remember that all ‘B’ regular comparative adjectives must be preceded by ‘more’ while comparing two things or persons. Consider the following examples:
(i) I am more handsome than you are.
(ii) You are more beautiful than she is.
(iii) Segun is more honest than Biodun.
It is ungrammatical to say:
(i) I am handsome than you are.
(ii) You are beautiful than she is.
(iii) Segun is honest than Biodun.
(h) The word ‘worse’ is already a comparative degree. So, (r) should not be added to it. For example:
(i) Your behaviour is worse than that of your younger sister.
(ii) Samuel is worse than his brother.
It is wrong to say:
(i) ‘Your behaviour is worser than…’
(ii) ‘Samuel is worser than…’
(i) It is grammatically wrong to use two or more comparative adjectives together, such as ‘more better’ because both of the words are comparative degrees.
So, do not say:
(i) Civilian rule is more better than military rule.
(ii) Your elder brother is more taller than you.
It is correct to say:
(i) ‘Civilian rule is better than…’
(ii) Your elder brother is taller than…’
Rather than ‘more better’, and the likes, the pre-modifiers like ‘far’ or ‘much’ can be used before either better, taller or more. See the examples below.
(i) Civilian rule is far better than military rule.
(ii) Your elder brother is much taller than you.
(iii) Jummy is much more intelligent than her sister.
[To] as a Special Comparative Degree
(j) There are some special words which cannot take the word ‘than’ when we are comparing two things or persons. Instead, the word ‘than’ is substituted for ‘to’. Such words are: prefer, superior, inferior, preferable, etc. For example:
(i) I always prefer rice to beans. Don’t say: …than beans.
(ii) The white people considered themselves superior to the black people. Don’t say: …than the black people.
(iii) Private schools are preferable to public ones. Don’t say: …than public ones.
(k) Moreover, these special words should not be preceded by ‘more’.
Therefore, don’ say:
(i) Women are more inferior to men.
(ii) The Lord is more superior to the devil.
(iii) Building a house first is more preferable to buying a car.
(i) Women areinferior to men.
(ii) The Lord is superior to the devil.
(iii) Building a house first is preferable to buying a car.
(l) In the earlier rules, we say that two things or persons can be compared through the words ‘than’ and ‘to’. However, two items can be indirectly compared without the use of ‘than’ or ‘to’. Consider the following examples:
(i) Between you and me, you are taller.
(ii) Bolu is happier of the two girls.
(iii) Of the two men, Mr Idowu is more handsome.
The sentence (i) implies that ‘you are taller than I am’.
The sentence (ii) implies that ‘Bolu is happier than other girl we don’t mention her name.
The sentence (iii) implies that ‘Mr Idowu is more handsome than other man we don’t mention his name. Make sure that the items you are comparing are not more than two in this context.
(m) There are certain adverbs preceded by the comparative word ‘more’ while comparing two things or persons. Instead of adjectives to follow the word ‘more’, the adverbs will take the position. For example:
(i) Hamzat performed more excellently than you did.
(ii) I spoke more fluently than he did.
(iii) I need money more rapaciously than she does.
If the lexical verbs occur immediately after the subjects, then the adverbs will appear between ‘more’ and ‘than’ instead of adjectives. As a result of this, it is grammatically strange to say:
(i) Hamzat performed more excellent than you did.
(ii) I spoke more fluent than he did.
(iii) I need money more rapacious than she does.
Superlative Degrees of Comparison of Adjectives
Superlative degrees of comparison of adjectives express more than two items. The article ‘the’ or possessive pronouns are compulsory before the word ‘most’ and other superlative adjectives. Consider the following illustrations:
(i) Godwin was the most handsome man I had ever seen in life.
(ii) Tortoise and dog is the most interesting story I have ever listened to.
(iii) Bose is the best student in this class.
(iv) Out of the students in my class, Dayo is my worst enemy.
(v) Of the workers in this company, you are the least experienced employee.
(i) The sentence (i) suggests that out of all men the speaker had seen in life, Godwin was identified as the man who was handsome most.
(ii) The sentence (ii) suggests that out of the stories the speaker has ever listened to so far, that of ‘tortoise and dog’ is the most interesting one.
(iii) The sentence (iii) implies that out of the students in Bose’s class, she is the best.
(iv) The sentence (iv) implies that Dayo is the speaker’s worst enemy out of the students he/she has in his/her class.
(v) The sentence (v) means that out of the workers working in that company, that employee has the least experience.
In many occasions, you may be invited to give a talk on a particular topic or to be a guest speaker of the day. So also, if you are asked to write a speech to an international body on ‘the system of education in your country’ this kind of essay is a speech writing.