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What Is a Comparative Adverb?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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A comparative adverb is a specific kind of adverb that compares or contrasts two things. An adverb is a specific part of speech that modifies a verb. This is in contrast to a similar part of speech called an adjective, which modifies a noun. Adverbs and adjectives both have comparative forms, which allow speakers and writers to compare a pair of items.

In addition to comparative adverbs, there is also another form used to compare three or more things, which is called the superlative adverb. Comparative and superlative adverbs each have their own forms, and language beginners will often review charts of both kinds of adverbs to get an idea of common forms for each one. Many comparative adverbs have the suffix “–er,” while many superlative adverbs have the suffix “–est.”

Some simple examples of comparative adverbs include “louder” and “softer,” as well as “faster” and “slower.” Each of these can be used to modify a verb. For example, the adverb “loud,” when used to modify a single verb, often uses the conventional suffix “–ly,” as in: “The bird sang loudly.” Using the same verb in a comparative sentence might look like this: “the two birds both sang, but the first one sang louder than the other.”

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It’s important to note that many of these comparative adverb examples can also be used to modify nouns. For instance, one can say, “that is a fast car” or “that car goes fast.” In a comparative sentence, one could say “that car goes faster than the other one.”

One important aspect of using a comparative adverb is to recognize whether the adverb uses a suffix, or an additional helping word such as “more” or “less.” An example of a comparative adverb that uses “more” or “less” rather than a suffix is “effectively.” For example, the proper form for this in a comparative sentence is, “the first method worked more effectively than the second.” Some language learners find it hard to understand when to use suffixes and when to use the words “more” or “less” instead. One principle rule is that a writer or speaker should never use a suffix and the words “more” or “less” together.

Detailed charts of comparative adverbs, or even a general dictionary, can help language learners figure out when to use a suffix and when to use other forms. These charts help individuals to memorize many of the comparative and superlative adverbs. They also help to distinguish them from comparative and superlative adjectives, and other parts of speech.

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