We are all acquainted with the basic elements and parts of speech in English grammar that help us convey our complete thoughts. The most common amongst them are nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, etc. However, today we will discuss another important element that relates to using the two parts of speech, adjectives, and adverbs, the degrees of comparison.
Degrees of comparison are commonly used in most sentences without one’s awareness of the term. In a general sense, the degree of comparison can be understood as the grammatical concept that is used to modify, describe, or quantify adjectives and adverbs in a sentence.
There are different types of degrees of comparison, and each has unique ways of relating to an adjective. So, let us get into a quick discussion below and gain a better understanding of them.
Degrees of comparison – Definition
By definition, we can state that degree of comparison is a concept that is used in a sentence to describe the relational value of one thing with another that is present in a different clause. It is basically used to modify the adjective of a sentence and offer a change in its form to show some kind of comparison. Hence, the degree of comparison is also known as the comparison of adjectives.
In simple words, the degree of comparison is a concept used when we compare one person or a thing to another. Since adjectives are used to show the quality and modify the nouns and pronouns in a sentence, when these adjectives are modified into different forms to compare their quality, we use the degrees of comparison. However, this is also applicable to adverbs in a sentence. That means degrees of comparison are applicable to only adjectives and adverbs and not to verbs or nouns.
Now, the degree of comparison comes in three forms. They are:
- Positive degree
- Comparative degree
- Superlative degree
So, every adjective or adverb can be presented in one of the three degrees. But before going into a detailed discussion about the three types, let us look at some simple examples to gain a basic idea.
- Positive degree: angry (adjective), Angrily (adverb)
- Comparative degree: angrier (adjective), more angrily (adverb)
- Superlative degree: angriest (adjective), most angrily (adverb)
As we can notice, the different degrees of comparison are modifying the adjectives and adverbs in three different ways. To bring such a change of form and offer a comparison, we use the concept of degree of comparison.
Understanding the three types of degree of comparison
So, we have learned the meaning and definition of degrees of comparison. Now, we need to take a closer look at the three variant forms of degrees of comparison and their specific uses. Let us get into it one by one.
1. Positive degree of comparison
The first type of degree of comparison, the positive degree of comparison, is basically the adjective in its simple form. That means it just tells us about the presence or existence of a quality of a particular thing. This type of degree of comparison offers no comparison at all.
- Hot: This cup of tea is hot.
- Tall: My neighbour is so tall.
- Fast: Your cat runs fast.
- Slowly: The girl danced slowly.
- Happily: He sang the song happily.
Formation of a positive degree of comparison: There is no rule regarding its formation. It simply takes up the base form of an adjective or an adverb. Considering the above examples, we can see that the adjectives tall, hot, fast are used in their original state. So, they are said to be in a positive degree of comparison.
2. Comparative degree of comparison
As the name already suggests, this is a type of degree of comparison that shows a comparison between two things. That means a comparative degree of comparison shows a higher degree of quality than the positive degree type. It is basically used when the quality of two sets of things or two individual things are compared to one another.
- Slower: Your cat runs slower than mine.
- Faster: Cheetahs run faster than most animals.
- Lazier: Cows are lazier than dogs.
- More happily: She was acting more happily than the lead actor.
- More beautifully: He drew the man more beautifully than the painter.
Formation of a comparative degree of comparison: To form a comparative degree, we simply add the letters –er at the end of an adjective word. And in terms of adverbs, we add more before the adverbs. However, if the adjective is a two-syllable word ending with y, we replace it with –ier. And in case the adjectives end with a vowel and a consonant, we double the ending letter.
As we can notice, the comparative degree of comparison tries to show which object has a greater or lesser quality by offering a comparison, unlike the positive degree.
3. Superlative degree of comparison
This is the final type of degree of comparison. And unlike the others, the superlative degree of comparison offers a comparison of quality of more than two things. They aim at denoting the highest quality of a person or a thing. That means the superlative degree of comparison compares more than two things and shows which has the greatest or least degree of quality.
- Slowest: Tortoise is the slowest animal of all.
- Largest: The blue whale is the largest animal.
- Hottest: The sun is the hottest.
- Most beautifully: She performed most beautifully among all.
- Most calmly: He passed the test most calmly.
Formation of a superlative degree of comparison: It is very easy to form a superlative degree of comparison. We just need to add the letters –est at the end of the adjectives. And in the case of adverbs, we add the word most in front of the main adverb word.
As we can see in the above examples, the words hottest, slowest, largest are all in their highest degree of quality. That means they are in a state of superlative degree of comparison.
So, these are the three types of degree of comparison and their three variant formation and usage in a sentence. Each modifies an adjective and an adverb in a sentence to show different comparisons.