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Use English Comparative and Superlative Adjectives Sparingly – Better Describe than Compare!

by Robby on September 9, 2012

Improve Spoken English

Here’s a couple of English adjective related problems even an advanced foreigner might run into when having a conversation with others.

PROBLEM #1:
Analyzing your speech from the grammar standpoint

Let’s say for example, you want to describe something during a conversation, but your mind keeps going back to the tables in your English grammar textbook where irregular adjectives were listed.

It may happen completely involuntarily, but it’s this traditional way of structuring adjectives according to their forms that makes you analyze the structure of a sentence instead of being fully engaged into the conversation. That in turn may result in all sorts of English fluency issues!

PROBLEM #2:
Limiting your means of expression

You may be brilliant at describing and comparing objects, living creatures and people, but if you only stick with the traditional system – adjective – comparative adjective – superlative adjective – you’ll limit your spoken English development.

For example, in a sentence “She’s really resourceful in the way she solves practical problems compared to her sister”… the word ‘resourceful’ isn’t a comparative form of some other adjective. If your mind is tuned to the standard way of using adjectives, however, you may find that you just can’t see past the standard way of using the same adjective you already described her sister with.

Let’s say for example, you described her sister as not being practical, so if you go down the traditional adjective comparison road, you automatically may say – “she’s more practical than her sister”.

Well, it’s not a bad thing in itself, but it’s just that on certain occasions it may limit your ability to speak freely and improvise.

So how do you develop your ability to speak automatically and without analyzing too much if you’ve got to use this or that particular adjective form?

WATCH THIS VIDEO WHICH
EXPLAINS MY MISTAKE USING ‘ADVERBS’ INSTEAD OF
‘ADJECTIVES’ THROUGHOUT THE VIDEO ABOVE… SORRY! ;-) 

 

Tip #1:
Don’t Compare – Describe Instead!

The difference between comparing and describing might seem insignificant at first.

But look at the following example first and then you may just change your mind!

Let’s say, you’re telling your friends a funny story and you want to describe a certain situation when you felt even more embarrassed than on a similar occasion previously.

You may stick to the trodden path and organize your speech around the word ‘embarrassed’.

“I was even more embarrassed than before”!

“It was the most embarrassing moment I’ve ever experienced!”

It’s all nice and well, but now look at what happens when you stop going by the grammar book and do away with the comparison.

“The situation was quite awkward and right there and then I was ashamed of being his friend!”

“It was simply mortifying and I wished the Earth would swallow me up!”

Now, do you see what happens when you let your mind roam free and don’t stick to the same old comparison?

When you describe a situation and forget about just that one word – in this case ‘embarrassed’all of a sudden you become more creative in terms of your vocabulary and you can use all different sorts of expressions and other adjectives.

Tip #2:
Every Situation is Unique!

It definitely helps to open up your fluency and avoid making mistakes when speaking in English if you approach every situation you’re in just as it is :!:

Say for example, you’ve seen something shocking on TV and you want to tell your friend that today’s news is really bad.

Now, if you’re used to analyzing your speech and preparing it in your head beforehand, you may run into slight fluency issues when picking the right adjective which in this case is ‘bad’. You may be going by the irregular adjectives table in which the comparative form of ‘bad’ is ‘worse’, and before you know it, you may start a sentence with the following words – “Today’s news is worse…” after which you have to hesitate a little if you didn’t actually mean to compare today’s news with anything.

You’re much better off approaching every situation on its own and expressing how you feel about today’s news.

Did they shock you? Then say it!

“Today’s news is shocking!”

Or

“Today’s news is terrible!”

You don’t necessarily have to use the comparative and superlative adjective forms. Improvise, and you may find that you’re capable of speaking more freely and fluently than before!

Also, if your English vocabulary needs to be spruced up a little, thinking beyond the adjective forms is a great way of forcing yourself into looking up new adjectives which describe the situations more precisely.

But of course, my friends foreigners, I’m not saying you need to forget about the comparative and superlative adjective forms. Of course, you’ll be using them an awful lot, it’s just that sometimes you may want to think outside the box and it will definitely improve your spoken English, there’s no doubt about that! ;-)

Robby

P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

 

English Harmony System

  • Francisco Javier

    The truth is you can have a comparative form for both adjectives and adverbs:

    He is faster than you. (adjective in its comparative form)
    He works harder than you do. (adverb in its comparative form)

  • http://englishharmony.com/ Robby Kukurs

    Thanks for support, but to be honest with you, I still can’t get over it… I remember back in the day I was really good at all these grammar-related terms, and now it’s been years since I’ve made any effort to get my head around them.

    So, for some reason, while preparing this video, I had ‘adverbs’ in my mind, and even while doing some research online I came across ‘comparative adverbs’ etc. which reinforced my assumption even further.

    I guess it goes to show we can’t always trust what we find online!!! ;-)

  • Francisco Javier

    That’s all right, Robby. Never mind adjectives or adverbs, the important thing is to be able to use them so that we can speak fluently!

  • http://englishharmony.com/ Robby Kukurs

    I can’t believe I did it, seriously! :-(

    For some reason or another the damage is done, but I’m not going to take the video down because the message is pretty much the same anyway – describe every situation as it is instead of trying to compare by all means.

    To rectify some of the confusion that might arise, however, I made a video explaining that it’s not all as bad as it might seem!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuDsWq-LEN4

  • Francisco Javier

    You’re confusing adjectives with adverbs.

    “bad” is an adjective with its comparative form “worse” and superlative “the worst”. The word “badly” is an adverb.

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