In this article we are going to discuss the following topics:

  • Comparison
  • Absolute Form (as—as)
  • Forms of Comparison
  • Comparing Words
  • Pattern of Comparison
  • Troublesome Comparison


In this article, we will look at some of the simple forms used for comparison. These patterns are rigid and learners must respect the pattern to avoid typical mistakes. Firstly, we will look at comparisons of similarity, and then comparisons of difference. Comparing difference is much more complex than comparing similarity so learners should be careful with the structure.

When we compare two or more nouns, we make use of as-as, more than, or less than. We use logical comparison; the words that connect compared or contrasted ideas of equal importance.

Let’s see the different forms of comparison.



1.  We use the absolute degree to describe a noun or to compare two equal things or persons.


  • My uncle is bald.

Comparison: My uncle is as bald as a cue ball.

  • His wife-to-be is very charming.

Comparison: His girl-friend is not as charming as his wife-to-be.


2. We use the verb form /be/ in different form to change the time.


  • The weather in Chennai was as hot as in Varanasi.
  • Deepa is not as beautiful as Sopna.
  • James has been as busy as Rehman.


3. We use the adverb to compare by using adverb in different sense.


Joe’s car is almost as fast as Pierre’s car.

Conclusion: All the above shown examples make us to know different forms by making use of the structure which is parallel. Hence, compare the two elements by taking care of parallelism.

Structure: X (be) + as + adjective/adverbs + as Y

Here, we have to set some time to know about different use with its structure to compare two elements in a sentence.



We use these forms to compare the same quality of different things.

SHORT ADJsoftsoftersoftest
LONG ADJexclusivemore exclusivemost exclusive

Short adjectives take er/est, and long adjectives take more/most.


  • Gold is softer than copper.
  • Copper is more durable than gold.



Irregular forms have different start.



  • My tooth was aching worse than ever



When we compare two qualities of same subject, we use more, not er.



Structure 1

Subject with two qualities + be (verb) + more + quality1 + than + quality2


  • I was more sad than angry. ( not I was sadder than anger)

Here are two other ways of saying the same thing.


Structure 2

Subject with two qualities + be (verb) + not so much + quality1 + as + quality2


I was not so much angry as sad.


Structure 3

Subject with two qualities + be (verb) + quality1 + rather than + quality2


I was sad rather than angry.



When we directly compare the (pro)noun that is the subject with object, not er.


Subject + be (verb) + superior/inferior/preferable to + Object

Wood is superior to/preferable to plastic as a material. (= better)


Conclusion: Maximum terms used in the above examples are either adjectives or adverbs. Last special form made us compare in terms of subject and object. So, Comparison of one person or thing with another, enable us to say whether a person or thing has more or less of a particular quality. For better knowledge on comparing the difference in quality we have to see the words that divide the sentence into two qualities or clauses. So here we GO!


At this point it is necessary to note that the number of syllables and how they end dictates which form we use. We should also note that there are a number of irregularities and points of disagreement for native speakers. We should note that many of the two-syllable adjectives may take the -er or more rule.


Structure 1: X (be) + (single syllable adjective + er) + than Y

Example 1: The north is colder than the south.


Structure 2: X (be) + more + two-syllable adjective + than Y

Example 2: The countryside is more peaceful than the city.


Structure 3: X (be) + two-syllable-y* ending + ier + than Y

Example 3: The next exam will be easier than the last one.


Structure 4: X (be) + more + three-syllable adjective + than Y

Example 4: The west is more beautiful than the east.


Note: Some of the most common adjectives have irregular comparative forms.

Good becomes better, bad becomes worse, far becomes farther.


Conclusion: That takes care of words with their structure. If we know the pattern of comparison it will be an added advantage towards our learning.


As we have seen we should have the knowledge of comparison in terms of clauses, (pro)nouns, possessive, missing of articles, phrases, infinitive, gerund,  etc. to make the sentence parallel before comparison.

Here we take you to the pattern of comparison in four different patterns.



Elliptical Clauses with Verb/Verb Phrase

Most of the time when we use a comparison using than or as, we leave words out. This is technically called an elliptical clause–a clause with an ellipsis.

The leave out words could be subject, object, verb, or pronoun.


Incorrect: Parotta Suri eats more parotta than the average person.

Reason: The subject eats, what does the average person do?

Make the clauses equal in terms of subject and verb.

Correct: Parotta Suri eats, the average person eats/does.

Comparison: Parotta Suri eats more parotta than the average person eats/does.


Conclusion of pattern 1: In the elliptical clause the verb was missing, which was in the writer’s mind. Often, the missing part is a verb or verb phrase. While elliptical clauses are acceptable to use, they can sometimes cause confusion for writers and readers.




Elliptical Clauses with Pronoun

When a pronoun follows than or as in a comparison, make sure you understand what words are missing and then use the correct pronoun. A pronoun directly after as or than has the object form unless there is a verb after it


Incorrect: I’m not as tall as?

Reason: The subject is not as tall as whom?

Correct: I’m not as tall as him/as tall as he is.

Correct: The other teams played better than us/better than we did.


Conclusion of pattern 2: Many elliptical clauses will contain pronoun, not verb or verb phrase. The pronoun case must be one that completes the sentence or clause parallel. (for more details on pronoun usage refer chapter: Pronoun Agreement)





Remember, possessive pronouns are used to replace the noun. Possessive adjectives are used to describe the noun. Notice that some forms of the possessive adjective and possessive pronoun are the same (his, its). So, we have to look at how they are used in the sentence. (for more detail refer chapter Pronoun Agreement )

For the comparison to happen in logical sense many times we require possessive noun or possessive pronoun.


Incorrect: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is longer than Rahul Gandhi.

Reason: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is compared with Rahul Gandhi. Illogical.

Correct: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is longer than Rahul Gandhi’s.

Correct: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is longer than Rahul Gandhi’s is.

Correct: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is longer than Rahul Gandhi’s nose.

Correct: Rajiv Gandhi’s nose is longer than Rahul Gandhi’s nose is.


Conclusion of Pattern 3: Possessive brings the phrase in apostrophe. Hence, we can directly compare by using possessive case, or possessive case with its noun and verb. But many times we forget to balance the sentence in terms of singular or plural. So, here we include the example to eliminate such errors in possession of comparison.





Many times we make the comparison to happen with equality in phrase including possessive noun or possessive pronoun.


Incorrect: The potatoes of this farm aren’t as good as Senthil’s.

Reason: The potatoes of this farm are not good. And, what is/are not good in/at/with Senthil’s.

Comparison: The potatoes of this farm are not as good as the potatoes at Senthil’s farm.

Correct: The potatoes of this farm are not as good as the potatoes at Senthil’s farm.

Correct: The potatoes of this farm are not as good as the potatoes at Senthil’s.

Correct: The potatoes of this farm are not as good as those at Senthil’s.

Correct: The potatoes of this farm are not as good as those at Senthil’s farm.


Conclusion of Pattern 4: The above given example we were focusing on the words or phrase that were used. So, keep marking number of words that appear before and after the phrase of comparison, it should be equal or complete. Don’t miss any of the words, to be in the safer side.




Missing Essential Words

The repetition of article, preposition, or pronoun is necessary to bring clarity.


Incorrect: I’ m friendlier with girls than boys.

Reason: Who is friendly with whom?

Correct: I’ m friendlier with girls than with boys.

Correct: I’ m friendlier with girls than boys are.


Conclusion of Pattern 5: All the comparison makes us to know while speaking skipping of words are okay, but while writing we should be clear and complete.




Incomplete Comparison

Many times we skip as-as, or than is left out in sentences, thus considered to be incomplete.


Incorrect: David achieved more.

Reason: What he achieved more?

Correct: David achieved more than he achieved yesterday.

Correct: David achieved more than he did yesterday.


Conclusion of Pattern 6: Requirement is ‘more’ followed by ‘than’ if not then, the structure of the sentence is incomplete. So, we might face problem in pairing the words of comparison. Here, we take you to the troublesome comparison with examples.


1. Some adjectives and adverbs, from their very meaning, allow no comparison:


  • This table is almost round
  • It is almost a square plate.
  • That dress is very nearly unique.

Conclusion: The words round, unique, square, perfect, completely, universally, always, correct, never, dead etc. Such words can be modified in meaning, by adverbs more, hardly, nearly, or almost. But not with ‘more or most’.



2.  When comparing one person or thing with a group of which it is a part, use the comparative degree and the word ‘any other’ to exclude the thing compared from other objects of the same class or kind.


  • This tea has a better flavor than any other tea in the bakery.
  • Gold is more costly than any other metal.

Conclusion: In a comparative construction we must be sure that if A and B are compared, A should not be included as part of B.


3. Guard against using double comparatives, superlatives and negatives.


  • He is the cleverest employee of his organization. (not most cleverest)
  • She is cleverer than her brother. (not more cleverer)
  • We could hardly expect that to happen. (not couldn’t hardly)
  • He didn’t recognize me. Or He scarcely recognized me.

Conclusion: We should have included every method to make a sentence clear in its message, in simple words, any words that restricts the meaning of other words, eliminate it or correct it.


4. Latest and last

Latest means ‘furthest ahead in time’ or ‘newest’.

Example 1

  • What’s the latest time we can leave and still catch the train?
  • This jeans is the latest fashion.
  • Last means ‘before’ or ‘final’.


Example 2

  • I had my hair cut last week.
  • This is the last time I lend anyone my car.


5. Nearest and next

Nearest means the shortest distance away. Next refers to one of a sequence of things coming one after the other.


  • Where is the nearest phone box? (= closest, least far)
  • We have to get out at the next stop. (= the stop after this)


6. Farther/further and farthest/furthest

These words express distance. We use them as adjectives and adverbs.


  • The farthest/furthest moon is 13 million kilometres from Saturn.
  • I can’t walk any farther/further.
  • Further (but not farther) can express quantity.

Example: Let’s hope there are no further problems. (= no more problems)


7.Older/elder and oldest/eldest

We use elder and eldest mainly to talk about ages in a family. They go before the noun. Older and oldest can be used with reference to persons.


  • Have you got an older/elder brother?
  • The oldest/eldest daughter married a pop singer.

NOTE: ‘Elder’ is followed by ‘to’ and not ‘than’.


  • She is elder to her sister.


8. Like vs. As

Like and as are two very common comparison signals.

Like is used to compare nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases. Never put a clause or a prepositional phrase after like! (Remember, a clause contains a working verb, one that can be the main verb in a sentence.)


  • LIKE her sister, Nivea aced the test.

Here, like is followed by the noun phrase her sister. The whole phrase Like her sister indicates a comparison between Nivea and her sister (two nouns).

Note: Like can be followed by gerunds (-ing forms used as nouns):


  • LIKE swimming, skiing is great exercise.

On the other hand, as can be used to compare two clauses


  • AS her brother DID, Nivea aced the test. (Not LIKE her sister DID, Nivea aced the test)

The words her sister did form a clause (did is a working verb). Therefore, use as to make the comparison between the two clauses Nivea aced the test and her sister did, too.

Conclusion: In general when referring to two persons, places or things use the comparative form; when referring to more than two, the superlative form.