Most of us probably know the functions of comparative and superlative adjectives in English. Especially with the use of more and most as they generally support adjectives with three or more syllables plus other adjectives with endings of -ed (passive), -ful, -ive and a few other exceptions.
But there are some who don’t know about how more and most function outside the primary role of comparing two or more entities. Therefore, we will look at the different functions of the two.
More is used to compare two entities and determine which one is better than the other. However, as we see in the table, More has other functions as well. For instance……
Most is used as the superlative form of the adjective, finding out which object or person is the greatest of three or more subjects. However, most has other functions as well, as we see in the table below:
Few/Small vs Less
When looking at the opposites, we have two different words to look at. For most cases where we look at objects from a quantitative purposes, we would use few and small. They also include the comparative form, each of which require the use of „-er“
While few is very obvious because we’re talking about the numbers, many people have problems making the difference between small and little. Small is used either as an adjective or an adverb and describes the size and amount of something. Little has both grammatical functions, plus it can be used as a pronoun and determiner, yet little has two key differences:
- Little can be used to express some emotion or sometimes an idea of smallness
- Little is always used to describe something that is intangible, having no number, figure or amount.
Some examples to support the argument:
- There’s a beautiful little cottage next to the lake.
- Happy Birthday to our funny little man, known as my brother.
- We’ll have to use what little we have in our savings account to buy food.
- There’s very little water in that Reservoir.
When we use less, we can see that there are multiple meanings and functions that should be taken account. While less means something to a smaller extent per se, its differences can be broken down into the following:
In the sense of superlative, we have the same words but different meanings and functions. For small and few, the meaning is basically the same, which is looking at the small amount or size of an object, people, or other things. The endings is with –est.
We have the smallest/ fewest number of salmonella cases than our neighboring community.
The town has the fewest people visiting the market square this week.
I was given the smallest meal I’ve ever seen: A plate with a mini-sandwich and only three potato wedges!
Becky was the smallest person on the basketball team (Note: You can also use shortest).
When looking at the superlative for little, namely least, here we have a different set of functions and meanings to pay attention to.
In German, all of these in the box above have one meaning: wenigstens. 😉
Now that we know how the comparative and superlative words work in the sense of grammar and context, we’re going to look at the activities which you can click here to access.
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