From Academic Kids

In grammar the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another. It is in fact, one of the two inflections, together with the superlative, an adjective or adverb can have.

The structure of a comparative consists normally of the positive form of the adjective or adverb, plus the suffix -er, or (especially in the case of longer words) the modifier "more" (or "less") before the adjective or adverb. The form is usually completed by "than" and the noun which is being compared, e.g. "he is taller than his father is", or "the village is less picturesque than the town near by is".

Those who pay heed to usage prescription frequently jar at the null comparative, a comparative in which the starting point for comparison is not stated. These comparisons are frequently found in advertising; for example, in assertions such as "Our burgers have more flavor!" (More flavor than what?), "Our picture tube is sharper!" (Sharper than what?), "50% more!" (50% more than what, exactly?), etc. Similar problems attend slogans such as "100% pure" (pure what, again?). In some cases it is easy to infer what the missing element in a null comparative is; in other cases the speaker/writer may have been deliberately vague in this regard.


Scientific classification, taxonomy and geographical categorization conventionally include the adjectives greater and lesser, when a large or small variety of an item is meant, as in greater as opposed to lesser celandine. These adjectives may at first sight appear as a kind of null comparative, when as is usual, they are cited without their opposite counterpart. It is clear however, when reference literature is consulted that an entirely different variety of animal, scientific or geographical object is intended. Thus it may be found, for example, that the lesser panda entails a giant panda variety, and a gazetteer would establish that there are the Lesser Antilles as well as the Greater Antilles.

Yet another more recent convention appears to be that of calling a very large, often metropolitan city with all its suburbs and adjacent areas, Greater such as Greater London or Greater Manchester. This again merely denotes large or very large.

It is in the nature of grammatical conventions evolving over time that it is difficult to establish when they first became widely accepted, but both greater and lesser in these instances have over time become mere adjectives (or adverbial constructs), so losing their comparative connotation.da:Komparativ de:Komparativ simple:comparative


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