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Middle English, from Anglo-French comparer, from Latin comparare to couple, compare, from compar like, from com- + par equal


b : to view in relation to <tall compared to me> <easy compared with the last test>
  • 3 : to inflect or modify (an adjective or adverb) according to the degrees of comparison


In English grammar the degree of comparison of an adjective or adverb describes the relational value of one thing with something in another clause of a sentence. An adjective may simply describe a quality, (the positive); it may compare the quality with that of another of its kind (comparative degree); and it may compare the quality with many or all others (superlative degree). In other languages it may describe a very large degree of a particular [[quality].

The degree of comparison may be expressed morphologically, or syntactically. In English, for example, most monosyllabic and some disyllabic adjectives have morphological degrees of comparison: green (positive), greener (comparative), greenest (superlative); pretty, prettier, prettiest; while most polysyllabic adjectives use syntax: complex, more complex, most complex.

  • 1. The positive degree is the most basic form of the adjective, positive because it does not relate to any superior or inferior qualities of other things in speech.
  • 2. The comparative degree denotes a greater amount of a quality relative to something else. The phrase “Anna is taller than her father” means that Anna's degree of tallness is greater than her father's degree of tallness.
  • 3. The superlative degree denotes the most, the largest, etc., by which it differs from other things.