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Term Definition

A comparative is simply the part of speech that is used in order to draw comparisons between one thing or action and another thing or action. For example, if one were to say that the moral character of the younger brother is better than the moral character of the older brother, then the phrase "better than" would be a comparative. This is related to the superlative, which consists of terms such as the "greatest" or the "best".

Introduction & Definition

Everyone knows what it means to make comparisons. But do you want more information about the specific part of English speech known as the comparative. If so, then look no further: there could be no webpage that is better for you than this one provided by Ultius. 

A comparative is what you use to compare one noun or verb with another noun or verb. 

In principle, then, a comparative can be either an adjective or an adverb. The comparative is an adjective if it is used to compare one person, place, or thing with another person, place, or thing. The comparative is an adverb if it is used to compare one action with another action.  

Examples & Rules

Here is an example of the comparative being used properly within an actual sentence. 

"In order to determine whether he was as good as his brother at athletics, he decided to have a race: whoever could run faster than the other would be deemed the better athlete."

In this sentence, "as good as" is a comparative adjective, and "run faster than" is a comparative adverb. 

Now, here is another example: this has the comparative being used incorrectly. 

"He was sure that he was as better as everyone else; and moreover, he was proud that he was the most tall person in the class." 

Here, the proper phrase would be "better than" (or "as good as"), and "most tall" should say "tallest".

In case you are still a little confused, here are some rules regarding good use of the comparative. 

1. Whenever you see the phrases "as [something] as" or "better/worse than," you can pretty much rest assured that you are in the presence of a comparative. 

2. Sometimes, the comparative is implicit. For example, if a person says he is "feeling better today," it is implied that he is comparing today against yesterday (or the past).

3. An important part of using the comparative is just knowing the conjugation rule for specific words. For example, you should say "tallest" and not "most tall"; but you should say "most beautiful", and not "beautifulest". This may just take some practice. 

Additional Information

The comparative is essential for making sense of the world, because it provides a frame of reference according to which people can better understand linguistic statements. For example, if someone just says that the man is tall, then the obvious question is: tall compared to what? By using the comparative, you can ask: taller than a child?; as tall as Michael Jordan?; tall compared to the Eiffel Tower? The comparative can thus help you get a sense of how one object or action stands in relation to another object or action. 

In particular, the comparative may be especially useful when trying to make sense of an unfamiliar situation. For example, you might say that Superman can fly "faster than a speeding bullet". We all know how fast bullets fly, so this statement would help us better understand Superman. Likewise, we could say that Godzilla is about "as tall as a skyscraper". The use of a comparative here would help us better understand a strange and unfamiliar creature and what would be the most appropriate way for us to respond to it (in this case, with fear).  

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