Adjectives: Comparative, with ‘Than’ and the Definite Article

A comparative adjective compares two things, or groups of things. Remember that we use the comparative adjective to show difference and what is most or tops. We form a comparative adjective for a one-syllable adjective by adding -er to the adjective.

NOTE: when a one-syllable adjective ends in a vowel and a consonant, then remember to double the consonant (see the example below). 

  • My dog is bigger (compared to that other dog).

Comparing one thing with another by using ‘than’

If we want to compare one thing with another thing, or with a group of things, we add the word than:

Noun (subject) + verb + comparative adjective + than + noun (object)
My dog is bigger (big + g + er) than your dog.

NOTE: when a one-syllable adjecive ends in a vowel and a consonant, then remember to double the consonant (see the example below). 

We would not say ‘My dog is biggest than your dog,’ because ‘biggest’ is a superlative adjective and not a comparative adjective.

Usage

  • The weather is colder in Sweden than in England.
  • That girl is taller than those other girls.
  • Your hair is much darker than that.

The Definite Article

Adding the definite article ‘the’ to the comparative adjective creates a different structure than in the previous examples, but it appears often in phrases such as:

  • The sooner
  • The better
  • The faster

Forming comparative adjectives with the definite article

This structure places the definite article first:

Definite Article + comparative adjective
The bigger (big + g + er)

A very common expression in English is:

‘The sooner the better.’

This is a good example of a phrase that essentially means ‘The sooner (something happens) the better (the outcome)’. It omits the noun, but it still makes sense.

Definite Article + comparative adjective + definite article + comparative adjective
The sooner the better

We also see the definite article with the comparative adjective in these examples of common phrases, called idioms. For example:

I chose the lesser of two evils.

We say this when we have two bad choices and choose the one that is the least bad.

Two comparative adjectives make up this common phrase without using any nouns:

The more, the merrier.

Essentially, it means The more people (who join in the event), the merrier (the event will be).’

Another example of a common English phrase using the comparative adjective with the definite article is:

He took a turn for the worse.

This means that someone whose health has suddenly changed for the worse. Someone can also take a (sudden) turn for the better.

Advertisements