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Do you often find yourself confused when it comes to degrees of comparison? Don’t know when to use positive degree, or comparative degree, or superlative degree? Is it the most frustrating thing in the world? Or are there worse demons in grammar? Fear not! Here is a lesson on the basics of degrees of comparison. Learn to spot common errors in degrees of comparison and correct them like a pro!
TALKING DEGREES OF COMPARISON
Some of us friends had gathered to catch up on each other’s lives. We were discussing our jobs when one of my friends compared her current work colleagues to her previous ones.
She said, “The people in my new office are way more friendlier than the people at my old office.”
One of my other friends chipped in, “Are they offering you a good salary than before?”
She replied, “Yes. They definitely are. The best part is I learn to use my time more effectively than at my previous work.
This simple conversation can be used to identify the errors people are prone to make when they use degrees of comparison. The degrees of comparison are easy to identify really. When we are talking about only one thing, it is the positive degree. Comparing between two things uses the comparative degree. When you want to compare one thing with all other things in its class and call it the best or the worst of the lot, then you use superlative degree.
SPOTTING EXTRA REDUNDANCIES!
Let us pinpoint the errors in the conversation given above.
Even though the first sentence seems correct, it is not. Since she is comparing two things, she has used the comparative degree of comparison; but she has incorrectly used ‘more’. The adjective ‘friendlier’ is already in the comparative form so it doesn’t need an additional ‘more’ before it.
‘More’ and ‘most’ is used in the comparative and superlative degree of comparison respectively when the rule of applying ‘er’ or ‘ier’ and ‘est’ or ‘iest’ does not apply.
Usually, when the word is too long (three or more syllables), the word takes ‘more’ and ‘most’ in its comparative and superlative degrees. Then do not add ‘er’, ‘ier’, ‘est’ or ‘iest’ at its end.
Eg: The palace we visited at Udaipur was more splendid than this palace.
In the second sentence, ‘as before’ implies there is a comparison between two timeframes – now and before. Thus, it should have been a ‘better salary’. Why not ‘gooder’? Or ‘more good’?
Because, some words follow an irregular pattern.
Here are some examples:
1. Good- Better- Best
2. Many/Much- More- Most
3. Bad/Ill- Worse- Worst
4. Far- Farther- Farthest (talking about distance)
5. Far- Further- Furthest (talking about achievements)
6. Old- Elder- Eldest (talking about blood relatives)
7. Old- Older- Oldest (talking about others)
8. Little- Less- Least
9. Late- Later- Latest (talking about an event)
10. Late- Latter- Last (talking about a person or object)
USING WITH ADVERBS – IT’S OKAY!
In the third sentence, the thing to be observed is that even though ‘effectively’ is an adverb it is being used in the comparative degree.
The aim is to indicate that the degree of comparison can be used for adverbs as well.
We can interchange the degrees of comparison by keeping the meaning of the sentence same.
Let us take the example of the previous sentence:
The palace we visited at Udaipur was more splendid than this palace.
Originally in comparative degree, let us change it to the positive degree.
This palace is not as splendid as the palace we visited at Udaipur. (Positive degree)
This is the easiest way to learn degrees of comparison. (Superlative degree)
There is no other way as easy as this one to learn degrees of comparison. (Positive degree)
This way is easier than any other way to learn degrees of comparison. (Comparative degree)
The only way to master correct usage of degrees of comparison is reading and practising converting sentences from one degree to another. This way you can spot errors more easily in degrees of comparison.