In English grammar, adjectives and adverbs have different forms to show degrees of comparison. Hence, degrees of comparison refers to adjectives or adverbs being written in different forms to compare one, two or more nouns which are words describing persons, places and things. There are three different forms of comparison, namely the positive, the comparative and the superlative degree.
Positive Degree of an adjective in comparison is the adjective in its simple or basic form. It is used to denote the mere existence of some quality of what we speak about. It is used where there is no comparison. Examples – Sahana is a smart girl. / It is a tall building.
The Comparative Degree is used to compare the qualities of two persons or things. It denotes the existence of a higher degree of the quality than the positive. It is used where two things or two sets of things are compared. Examples – Sahana is smarter than any other girl of her age. / This building is taller than any other building in the area.
The Superlative Degree is used to compare the qualities of more than two nouns or things. It indicates the highest degree of the quality and is used when more than two things are compared. Examples – Sahana is the smartest girl. / This is the tallest building. The Superlative Degree is also used when more than two nouns or things are compared. Examples – Sahana is smarter than Sishma./ This is the tallest of all the buildings.
Usually, almost all mono-syllable adjectives form their comparative and superlative degrees by adding ‘er’ and ‘est’ to their positive degree. Examples – great, greater, greatest / large, larger, largest / happy, happier, happiest / big, bigger, biggest.
In case of adjectives of two or more syllables ‘more’ and ’most’ are added to their positive degrees to make their comparative and superlative. Examples – beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful. / difficult, more difficult. / most difficult.
However, there are several adjectives, which do not follow any of the rules mentioned above. They are compared irregularly. Among others, they include the following – bad, worse,worst / good, better, best, / far, farther,farthest. / less, lesser, least.