Skills 27 29 comparative and superlatives

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Skills 27 29 comparative and superlatives

  1. 1. UCI Extension Paper-Based TOEFL Workshop Comparatives and Superlatives Structure and Written Expression Skills 27-29 Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test Tutorial prepared by Marla Yoshida 1
  2. 2. The comparative form of adjectives • A comparative form of an adjective shows that one thing has more of a quality than another. It is used in sentences like this: Elephants are bigger than mice. Diamonds are more expensive than chewing gum. • We usually put than and a noun, pronoun, or clause after the comparative adjective to name the thing we’re comparing something to. Babies are always younger than their parents. No one is more dedicated than he. (Or in more casual speech, …more dedicated than him.) You have more money than I do. (OR You have more money than do I.) 2
  3. 3. The comparative form of adjectives • We make comparative forms in two ways: 1. If the adjective has one syllable OR if it has two syllables and ends in –y or -le, we add –er to the adjective. big  bigger noisy  noisier little littler 1. If the adjective has two syllables and doesn’t end in –y or –le, OR if it has three or more syllables, we add more before it. modern  more modern dangerous more dangerous We never use both more and –er at the same time. more longer more intelligenter 3
  4. 4. The comparative form of adjectives • A few words have irregular comparative forms. good  better bad  worse little*  less much  more far  farther OR far  further ✻Here the word little means not much, as in I only have a little money. It’s different from little meaning small. Compare these: ✻You have little money. I have less money than you do. ✻Mice are little. Earthworms are littler than mice. 4
  5. 5. The superlative form of adjectives • A superlative form of an adjective shows that one thing has the most of a quality, compared to a whole group of things. The fastest animal in the world is the cheetah. Chocolate is the most delicious food of all. • After a superlative adjective, we often put a prepositional phrase starting with in or of, or a clause starting with that to indicate the whole group of things that we’re comparing something to. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. I think freesias are the most beautiful of all flowers. This car is the most expensive thing that I have ever bought. • We usually put the before a superlative adjective. the nicest person the spiciest food the most ridiculous joke This food is the spiciest. That joke is the most ridiculous one. 5
  6. 6. The superlative form of adjectives • We make superlative forms in two ways: 1. If the adjective has one syllable OR if it has two syllables and ends in –y or -le, we add –est to the adjective. big  biggest noisy  noisiest little littlest 1. If the adjective has two syllables and doesn’t end in –y or – le, OR if it has three or more syllables, we add most before it. modern  most modern dangerous most dangerous We never use both most and –est at the same time. most longest most intelligentest 6
  7. 7. The superlative form of adjectives • A few words have irregular superlative forms. good  best bad  worst little  least much  most far  farthest OR far  furthest • In careful speech, there’s a difference between farther/farthest and further/furthest. Farther and farthest are used when we’re talking about actual distance. Cars can travel farther than horses. • Further and furthest are used for more figurative meanings. I think he’ll go further in life than I will. • This difference isn’t usually followed in everyday language. 7
  8. 8. Should we use the comparative or superlative? • We use the comparative form when we are comparing two things or groups of things. Alaska is bigger than Texas. Bobcats are smaller than lions. My computer is faster than most other computers. • We use the superlative form when we are talking about one thing among a group of three or more things. I have three cats. The oldest is named Charlotte. (>2 cats) The biggest animal in the world is the sperm whale. (There are many animals in the world, and it’s bigger than all of them.) Why did you order the most expensive item on the menu? (There are many items on the menu, and this one costs the most.) 8
  9. 9. Should we use the comparative or superlative? • In formal, TOEFL-type grammar, we don’t use the superlative form when we are comparing only two things: I have two cats. Charlotte is the oldest. Bob is the tallest of the two boys. • Instead, we are supposed to use the comparative form. Notice that we use the in these sentences: the older, the taller. I have two cats. Charlotte is the older. Bob is the taller of the two boys. • People don’t always observe this rule in everyday conversation, but we still need to follow it on the TOEFL. 9
  10. 10. Unusual expressions with comparatives • There are some expressions in English that follow this pattern: the ADJECTIVE + er, the ADJECTIVE + er • They mean that as the first thing increases, the second thing also increases. These famous proverbs follow this pattern: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. (verbs: are, fall) The more, the merrier. (no verbs) • Sentences like these might have verbs (like the first one), or they might not (like the second). When there’s no verb, we understand that is or it is has been omitted. Sentences like these are still acceptable on the TOEFL. Here are more examples: The more I tried to understand what she was saying, the more I realized that it was hopeless. The bigger your investment, the bigger your profits. 10
  11. 11. Summary In this section, you have learned about these things: • We form comparative adjectives with ADJECTIVE–er or more ADJECTIVE. • We form superlative adjectives with ADJECTIVE–est or most ADJECTIVE. • Use the comparative to compare two things or groups. • Use the superlative to describe the most extreme of three or more things or groups. • Expressions like “The more, the merrier” seem a little strange, but we sometimes see them. 11

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