ESL Easy Quiz

Getting Better - Comparative Adjectives

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about the “Getting Better Quiz” but no doubt your teachers will want to talk about “Comparative Adjectives”. If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

So what is a comparative adjective? You probably already know that a comparison is the way of comparing one thing with another. You also probably know that an adjective is a 'describing word'. Putting the two together then we find that a comparative adjective is something that describes the relationship of two items. You see, it is not as difficult as you might expect so try this quiz to help you get accustomed to the idea.

  1. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    Is there not a ... ... way to get to your house from the airport?
    'Quick' is a normal single-syllable adjective, so its comparative form is regular. It would somehow be odd if the word for this idea were long or diffficult! (Though, in common with some other languages including French, our word for 'long' is actually shorter than our word for 'short' ~ 4 letters instead of 5!)
  2. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    If you think you've got sunburn, try going to the First Aid point; it's a bit ... ... along the beach.
    'Further' is the more usual form; sometimes you may hear 'farther' (usually in a more formal context, or from old-fashioned people ~ and not to be confused with 'father', which sounds rather similar!).
    Actually, you would hear a difference between 'father' and 'farther' if you were listening to an English speaker from the West Country, or many parts of Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere, or indeed from most of the USA. Reasonably enough, they do pronounce the R distinctly, so you would hear: 'My pooR old gRandfatheR is too tiRed to walk any faRtheR this afteRnoon'!
    The problem is that speakers of 'standard southern English' tend not to pronounce the R clearly in such situations (otheRwise it would be 'standaRd southeRn English'!).
  3. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    Of course, the whole-day trip on the tourist bus is ... ... than if you just go for 3 hours.
    Most adjectives that are more than one syllable long (and don't end in -Y) will form their comparative version by staying the same but putting 'more' on the front.
    French, for example ~ and its sister languages ~ can only ever do comparisons this way with most of its adjectives ('X est plus cher qu'Y'; Spanish 'mas grande' etc.); whereas German can just say 'X ist teuerer'.
  4. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    They knew the situation was bad, but suddenly it had become a whole lot ... .
    It's a bit sad that we have to have such a word at all, but sometimes we need it. There seems to be no link between 'bad' and 'worse' in the actual shape of the word; they don't even have one single letter in common.
    Obviously, if you have a problem while you are staying/working in Britain (for example, a leaking tap in your bathroom), you will need a word to explain that things are no longer as good as they were!
  5. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    'Tomorrow's weather will become ... .... from the west as the day goes on.'
    A single word is clearest, though 'more cloudy' is possible and certainly not wrong.
    Any other two-syllable adjective, where the second syllable was a -Y, can form its comparative version this way: rainy/rainier, silly/sillier, happy/happier (and indeed its opposite compound, unhappy/unhappier ~ though many people, if they need to, will more likely say 'more unhappy').
    And don't forget: even though it rains a lot in Britain, in general our summers are DRIER (= more dry) than the other seasons.
  6. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    I haven't been studying as long as you, but the teacher says my English is ... ... than yours.
    'Good ... better ... best'!
    In English we do put 'more' in front of an adjective (usually if it is longer than one syllable), but 'better' is an exception, and we are sure you will hear and see it often.
  7. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    Did you ever meet my ... ... sister?
    'Elder' is the form that English speakers use widely when referring to people, though 'older' is still correct.
    We do not use it to describe anything other than people (or just possibly, animals: 'the elder sister of our dog went to live with some friends in Bristol'). We would say that Oxford University is older (not 'elder') than the one at Cambridge. In fact, we wouldn't use 'elder' in a normal comparison of human beings either (we wouldn't say 'Paul is elder than Fred'), but we might say Paul is 'the elder of the twins by 20 minutes'.
  8. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    There seem to be a lot ... ... people here than we saw last time.
    'More' is fine on its own here.
    English has a saying, 'The more the merrier' ~ meaning (usually) that the more people there are, the more fun they will have. If someone offers you a lift in a car, and there are already quite a lot of people inside, they may use this phrase, but you might prefer not to ride along if you feel it could be dangerous ('too much of a good thing')!
    Sometimes people say this about putting alcohol into a 'punch'-type mixed drink. You may prefer to be careful then, too!
  9. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    What could be ... ... than a picnic with friends, by a river in the English countryside, on a warm summer's day?
    'Nicer' is possible, but a dull and over-used word; 'pleasanter' may be possible, but 'more pleasant' would be a better form.
  10. Choose the best word (or words) to fit the gap.
    'Personally, I think Indian food is ... ... than Chinese.'
    Answer 1 is the best, though Answer 2 is also possible.
    'Tasteful' (Answer 4) doesn't quite mean the same thing: it refers to having good taste, in the sense of not preferring such things as very loud music, or violent / clashing colour-schemes. (Most people, for instance, would probably prefer a 'tasteful' funeral or other ceremony when they die: an event with respect and dignity, rather than a great ugly drunken party.)
    'Deliciouser' doesn't work, though English people would understand what you mean, probably smile, and remind you gently that we don't make -ER -type comparisons with such long adjectives.

Author: Ian Miles

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