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Adverbs & Adjectives

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs never modify nouns. They report how, when, where, how often, or how much. Most adverbs in English end in -ly, but not all.

Adverbs usually precede the verbs they modify.

Some examples of the types of common adverbs:

Adjectives & Adverbs: Text
Adjectives & Adverbs: Image

Adjectives modify nouns. They report the quality, quantity, or condition of nouns. Adjectives usually precede the noun. Adjectives can not modify adverbs.

Some examples of types of adjectives:

Adjectives & Adverbs: Text
Adjectives & Adverbs: Image

Typically, adjectives go in front of nouns, adverbs in front of adjectives and determiners in front

of adverbs.

               The dog                                                              (determiner, noun).

               The Alsatian dog.                                             (determ, adjective, noun)

               The large, Alsatian dog.                                   (determ, adj, adj, noun)

               The ferocious, large, Alsatian dog.                  (determ, adj, adj, adj, noun)

               The surprisingly ferocious, large, Alsatian dog.            (determ, adverb, adj, adj, adj, noun)


Comparative & Superlative Adjectives


Comparative adjectives compare two people or objects (nouns). We have two ways of changing an adjective into a comparative, depending on how many syllables it has. When using comparatives, they are usually followed by ‘than’.


Superlatives compare more than two nouns indicating which is unique from the rest. Because it is unique, it is nearly always preceded by the definite article ‘the’.

Adjective                                           Comparative                               Superlative

one syllable                                        + -er                                                   + -est

tall                                                          taller                                                  tallest

fast                                                         faster                                                fastest

green                                                    greener                                            greenest

two syllables, ending in “y”             + -ier                                            + -iest

noisy                                                    noisier                                               noisiest

happy                                                  happier                                             happiest

busy                                                     busier                                                busiest

two syllables (no ‘y’)                    more                                                  most

modern                                              more modern                                most modern

famous                                               more famous                                 most famous

three syllables or more             more                                                   most

important                                         more important                           most important

expensive                                         more expensive                            most expensive

Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives

good                                                   better                                                 best

bad                                                      worse                                                 worst

little                                                    less                                                      least

many or much                               more                                                   most

far                                                        further / farther                           furthest / farthest


Bill Gates is wealthier than Jack Welch.

Rio de Janeiro is more expensive than Fortaleza.

The water is cleaner in Amazonas than it is in São Paulo.

Moscow is further than London from São Paulo.

Sometimes we use a comparative with the same noun, but comparing it ‘before’ and ‘after’ a change. In this case, it can also be used without ‘than’.


I feel fitter than I did last year.

Joey wants a bigger piece of cake than you gave him last week.

The sky looks bluer when there is less pollution. [We are comparing the sky with pollution and the sky without].

Alice needs a higher grade if she is to get into University.

My brother looks younger without his moustache.

The plane flies faster when there is no headwind.

    *  When emphasizing the difference between the nouns, we place much in front of the comparative:


Michael Jordan is much taller than Tiger Woods.

My boss’s Ferrari is much faster than my ‘bug’ (Fusca).

I look much more intelligent with my glasses on.

    *  We can also use comparatives and superlatives in front of adverbs.

Michael moved quickly, but his opponent moved more quickly.

     *  When comparing two nouns that are equal, we use the structure as + adjective + as. If they are nearly equal, we can modify the comparison using almost or nearly.


Iceland is as cold as northern Canada.

Elvis was as popular as The Beatles.

Learning Arabic is probably as difficult as learning Chinese.

When I was 11 years old I was almost as tall as my father.

To some people, calculus seems almost as difficult as quantum physics.

     *  We can also use comparatives for comparing ratios (razões / proporções).


The longer that I live in Brazil, the more I like it.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

The less money you have, the higher the cost of borrowing.

The fatter people become, the more difficult it is to be comfortable in an airplane seat.

The more successful the outcome, the bigger the pay check.

Superlatives cannot be used in this way, however.

Link Verbs

Question: When is an adjective not an adjective? Answer: When it is part of a link verb.

As we have seen, adjectives describe nouns. However, it is possible to combine some verbs with any adjective to create a ‘link verb.’


I feel strange.

If you stay in the sun, you'll go red, and if you eat too much ice-cream you'll get fat.

My brother is tall and thin, but is becoming lazy.

The words strange, red, fat, tall and lazy are normally adjectives (e.g. The sun dipped behind a tall building. - here tall is describing the noun building) but in the examples above they are attached (linked) to a verb - to feel, to go, to get, to be, to become - to create a 'link verb'. Link verbs are extremely common.

Adjectives & Adverbs: Text
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