One of the jobs of an adverb is to modify a verb action, for example:
- Joe ran fast.
If we want to compare one verb action with another, we can use a comparative adverb, for example:
- Joe ran fast, but Mary came first because she ran faster.
How do we Make Comparative Adverbs?
There are three basic ways to make or "form" a comparative adverb:
1. One-syllable adverbs: add -er
If an adverb has only one syllable, we usually just add -er to make it comparative: fast → faster. Here are some examples:
Note that most one-syllable adverbs have the same form as their equivalent adjectives. Don't let this confuse you. For example:
|adjective||a fast car||a faster car|
|adverb||he drives fast||he drives faster|
2. Two-syllable adverbs: use more
When an adverb has two or more syllables (like all -ly adverbs), we can make it comparative by adding more in front: quickly → more quickly. Look at these examples:
We can also use less in place of more to suggest a reduction in the action. Look at these examples:
|She visits often.||once a week|
|Now she visits more often. ↑||once a day|
|Now she visits less often. ↓||once a month|
3. Irregular Adverbs
A few adverbs have irregular form, for example:
Comparative Adverbs with Informal Forms
Note that a few adverbs have a formal ("correct") form with -ly and an informal form without -ly. The same is then true of their comparative forms. Although you may hear some native speakers using the informal form in speech, it is best avoided in formal situations and examinations. The most common examples are:
How do we Use Comparative Adverbs?
Now that you know how to make comparative adverbs, let's see how to use them. Look at these examples. Notice that we may use more to suggest an increase in the action and less to suggest a decrease in the action. Notice also that the comparative adverb is often followed by than:
- Trains go fast but planes go faster.
- Planes go faster than trains.
- Trains don't go faster than planes.
- Trains go more slowly than planes.
- Planes go less slowly than trains.
- Joe won because he played better than Jane played.
- Joe won because he played better than Jane.
- Joe won because he played better.
- Did cities grow more quickly after the Industrial Revolution?
- He hit the ball more powerfully than his competitor.
- As we get older we remember things less easily.
- Could you talk a bit more quietly please?
- Could you talk a bit less loudly please?
- I can't hear you. Please speak louder/more loudly.
- The planet Mercury revolves around the sun faster than all the other planets.
Contributor: Josef Essberger