Monday, July 5, 2010

Adjectives : Degrees of Comparison

Adjectives have three degrees of comparison. They are:

1. positive degree
2. comparative degree , and
3. superlative degree

When an adjective is used without making any comparison , it is said to be in the positive degree

* Rama is clever.
* Sita is pretty.

In these sentences clever and pretty are in the positive degree. No comparison is made in these sentences . But look at the following sentences :

* Rama is cleverer than his brother
* Sita is prettier than her sister.

In these sentences Rama is compared with his brother and Sita is compared with her sister. So the adjectives are in the comparative degree. The comparative degree of adjectives is followed by the conjunction than .

Please note that than is used as a conjunction in grammatically correct English. However, in conversational English than is often treated as a preposition . When pronouns are used ,the learner should treat than as a conjunction and use the subject-form of the pronoun. , like I, he, she they etc.

When more than two persons or things are compared , we use the superlative degree of adjectives .

* Rama is the cleverest boy in the class.
* Sita is the prettiest girl in the school.

Please note that the definite article the precedes an adjective in the superlative degree.

Formation of Comparative and Superlative Degrees

We get comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives by adding -er and -est to their form in the positive degree.Such adjectives are usually monosyllabic or disyllabic words of Anglo-Saxon origin . When the adjectives are polysyllabic words like beautiful, intelligent etc their comparative and superlative degrees are obtained by placing more and most before them., like more beautiful. most beautiful etc.

Changing the Degrees of Comparison without Changing the Meaning

Can you change the degree of comparison of an adjective without changing the meaning the sentence? .Yes, you can . Look at the following examples :

1 Sita is the prettiest girl in the school. (superlative degree)
2 Sita is prettier than any other girl in the school. . (comparative degree)
3 No other girl in the school is as pretty as Sita. (positive degree)

Note the following examples:

1 Sita is one of the prettiest girls in the school. (superlative degree)
2 Sita is prettier than most other girls in the school. (comparative degree)
3 Only very few girls in the school are as pretty as Sita . (positive degree)

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