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Unit 32 comparing


 Comparatives and superlatives A


 We use the comparative form of an adjective to compare two separate things.

Comparative: Model C400 is more powerful than model C200.

We use the superlative form to say that one thing in a group has more or less of a quality than all the others.

Superlative: The most powerful model that we make is the C600. The least

powerful model that we make is the C200.


 Form B


 The form depends on the number of syllables in the word and the spelling.


Adjective Comparative Superlative One syllable cheap cheaper the cheapest One syllable ending big bigger the biggest Vowel-consonant hot hotter the hottest One/two syllables risky riskier the riskiest Ending in y easy easier the easiest

Two or more syllables modern more/less modern the most/least modern


 Note that one-syllable adjectives ending in single vowel - single consonant double the final consonant, and that -y becomes i.

big - bigger flat - flatter wet - wetter

easy - easier noisy - noisier happy - happier


 Some two-syllable adjectives can form in either way. Examples include clever, common, narrow, polite, quiet, simple, tired.

common commoner/more common the commonest/the most common


 Note that long adjectives have both more/most and less/least, but short adjectives only have er/-est.


 Note the following irregular forms:


Good better - the best, bad worse the worst, far - farther/further the fartherst/furtherst




Standing up to an abusive boss can be risky.(=to defend yourself and refuse to let someone else treat you badly)


 Other points C


 We use than to link the things we are comparing. This year's profits will be a little higher than last year's. It's a lot more difficult than I thought at first.


 Before a superlative we use the or a possessive form. This is the/our/Digicom's

most powerful model.


 Comparative and superlative adjectives can be used without a noun if the meaning is clear from the context. Their level of service is good, but ours is better. Digicom produces a range of models, but this one is the most powerful.


 The present perfect with ever is often used with superlatives. This is the most powerful machine that we have ever produced This is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.


 Comparing equal things D


 We can compare two equal things with (just) as ... as. We say that two things are not equal with not as ... as. The adjectives do not change. The C600i is (just) as powerful as the C600.


 Comparing actions E


 When we compare actions we can use an auxiliary at the end of the sentence.

The C600 runs faster than the C400. OR The C600 runs faster than the C400



 Large and small differences F


 Using adverbs of degree we can talk about differences.


Using more ..... than


..... is a bit/ a little/slightly more expensive than ..... .


...... is considerably/much/a lot/far more expensive than ..... . Using as ..... as

..... is not nearly as expensive as ..... .


...... is almost/nearly/not quite as expensive as ..... .


..... is twice as expensive as ..... .


..... is more than twice as expensive as ..... .



These statistics are interesting but we need to find out what lies behind them.(=to be the reason or explanation for something, especially when this is not clear or not generally known)


Foreign exchange markets are far more volatile and unpredictable than

commodities markets. (African Business magazine website)


 We can use even to emphasise the comparison. Japan is a country full of distributors, wholesalers and other middlemen. The dislocation caused by the Internet could be even greater than in the US. (FT.com website)


 Other structures with comparatives G


 We can say that something is increasing or decreasing by using two comparatives linked by and. The personal pensions market is growing bigger and bigger. Investors are becoming more and more sophisticated.


 We can say that one situation depends on another by using the and one comparative followed by the and another comparative. The longer the strike goes on, the more difficult it will be to find a solution.


 These phrases are also useful for comparing things: exactly/just/almost/nearly/virtually/more or less/roughly the same ... as ... exactly/just/very/more/less/quite a bit/a little like completely/quite/slightly different from very similar to

compared to/in comparison with

Online retailers with 30 employees have to offer exactly the same service as

trading companies with turnover in billions of euros. (Connectis website)


 Phrases with superlatives H


 These phrases are common with superlatives.

One of the largest retailing groups in Latin America.

By far the/Easily the largest retailing group in Latin America.

The second/third/fourth largest retailing group in Latin America.

The recession that followed the dollar crisis of 1994 was one of the worst in

Mexican history. (Global Business Magazine website)


 Comparing adverbs I


 In general, adverbs follow exactly the same rules as adjectives.

One syllable: hard, harder, the hardest

Two syllables ending -y: early, earlier, the earliest

Two or more syllables: efficiently, more/less efficiently the most/least





How are you getting on in your new post?(=to deal with a job or situation, especially when you do it successfully and make progress)


 The adverbs well and badly are irregular.


well, better, the best badly worse, the worst


 We can use the same structures as adjectives. In the IT sector people are having to work harder and harder to get promotion. The quicker we can sign the deal, the sooner we can start production.


 We often need comparative and superlative adverbs when the verb has the form of a present participle (doing) or a past participle (done). Korea is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world. This product is more attractively designed and more solidly built.


 Comparing nouns J


 We compare nouns using the words below.

Countable nouns (products, people, customers, banks)

more, fewer, the most, the fewest, (not) as many ...as

We have far more people working for us now than two years ago. We don't have as many products on the market as two years ago. Uncountable nouns (time, money, information, progress)

more, less, the most, the least, (not) as much ...as

I'm working as a freelancer now and I earn considerably less money.

I don't have nearly as much time for reading as I would like.




The government has got inflation down to 4\%.(=to succeed in reducing the amount or number of something)




Exercise 1 (A, B, C, D)

Underline the correct words.


1 The new line should be so profitable as/as profitable as the old one.

2 This handset is the most profitable/the more profitable we've ever made.

3 This version of the programme is the most recent/recenter.

4 The guarantee is a year longer than /that with our older models.

5 Nothing is worse/worst than missing a flight because of traffic.

6 This printer is one of the best/better on the market.

7 The meeting wasn't long as/as long as I thought.

8 Today the share price is more bad/worse than it was yesterday.

9 I'm sorry, the journey took longer than/the longest we expected.

10 We'll be there soon. It's not much farer/further.


Exercise 2 (A, B, C, D)

Complete the sentences with a comparative or superlative form of the adjective in brackets. Include any other necessary words like the, more, less, as or than.


1 Coca-Cola is ..... (big) soft drinks manufacturer in the world.

2 This keyboard is quite difficult to use. It's ..... (small) the one I'm used to.

3 The conference was a little disappointing. It was ..... (interesting) I expected.

4 Yesterday was one of ..... (hot) days of the year.

5 I think this suggestion is ..... (good) the other one.

6 It's impossible to choose between these two products. One is ..... (good) the other.

7 The first round of negotiations was easy. The next will be ..... (difficult).

8 We're only a small company. We're not ..... (large) the market leader in our sector.

9 This year our sales figure are ..... (bad) last year.

10 This is ..... (bad) case of corruption we've seen for years.




He never let anyone come between him and his work.(=to prevent someone from giving enough attention to something)


Exercise 3 (A, B, C, D, E)

Put one suitable word in each space.


1 We are bigger ..... GNC, but Satco are ..... biggest in the market.

2 I can see you either day. One day is ..... good ..... the other.

3 Nobody knows more about electronics ..... Tina ..... .

4 Of course I'll speak to him. It's the ..... I can do after all your help.

5 Sorry, 5\% discount is my best offer. It's the ..... I can do.

6 He is one of the ..... difficult customers I have ever dealt with.

7 Everyone else had worked a lot longer on the project ..... I ..... .

8 I don't think that this market is ..... risky ..... it was.

9 The restaurants are the same. This one is ..... as expensive that one.

10This restaurant is better for us. It's ..... as expensive ..... that one.


Exercise 4 (F, G, H, I, J)

Underline the correct words.


1 The new design is considerably more light/lighter than the old one.

2 There are nearly twice as many people working here as/than last year.

3 The sooner they decide, it's better/the better for us all.

4 There's each time more/more and more investment in China every year.

5 We have the nearly largest/the second largest market share in Turkey.

6 This model might be better for you. It's slightly/quite less expensive.

7 This is our faster/fastest selling product.

8 Everything's getting more and more expensive/expensiver and expensiver.

9 If needed, could this production line go more quickly/more quicker?

10 It's a little more expensive, but the quality is much better/more better.

11 Our sales this year are virtually the same as/the equal of last year.

12 This is one of the best/the well organised conferences I've ever been to.




I wonder how he came by so much money at this age.(=to get something)



 Adverbs of degree A

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