English adverbs signify three different levels of modification “positive, comparative, and superlative” through periphrasis. Typically only adverbs of manner have comparative and superlative forms. Other adverbs such as adverbs of place, time, and frequency — lack comparative and superlative forms.

A Different Form Of Comparative And Superlative Adverbs

  • angrily – more angrily – most angrily
  • daintily – more daintily – most daintily
  • deep – deeper – deepest
  • early – earlier – earliest
  • lyrically – more lyrically – most lyrically
  • quickly – more quickly – most quickly
  • stubbornly – more stubbornly – most stubbornly
  • zanily – more zanily – most zanily
  • fast – faster – fastest
  • hard – harder – hardest
  • high – higher – highest
  • late – later – latest
  • long – longer – longest
  • low – lower – lowest
  • near – nearer – nearest

Example

  • Marie runs as fast as Chloe.
  • Claire runs faster than Marie.
  • Claire runs faster.

Positive Adverbs

The first degree of modification that all English adverbs can express is the positive degree. Positive adverbs are identical to the dictionary form of the adverb. For example;

  • The very young girl, however, treats her baby brother nicely.
  • She innocently asked a rather inappropriate answer.

All adverbs in English have a positive form.

Comparative Adverb

The comparative is the first degree of comparison. One forms it thanks to the structures more … than (comparative of superiority), as well  as (comparative of equality), less … than (comparison of inferiority). Comparative adverbs compare only two words, phrases, or clauses. The comparative form of most adverbs is formed by adding the adverb more to the adverb phrase. However, some adverbs such as hard, fast, and early take the -er suffix in the comparative form. Some adverbs have irregular comparative forms as in well and better, badly and worse. For example, the following italicized adverbs are comparative:

An expression like more slowly (made from the adverb slowly) is recognized as a comparative. It is applied to show who (or what) has made an action in a specific manner to the greater or lesser degree. (i.e., it is used to relate two performances.)

Samples:

– Claire dances less elegantly.

(In this example, less elegantly is comparative. It compares Claire’s performance with somebody else’s).

– She arrives at work earlier than him.

– The dog can see better than you think.

(better: comparative of the well)

– Try to paint the corners more carefully; it will save time later.

(more carefully: comparative of carefully)

– She tries harder than most, but she has no gift for languages.

(harder: comparative of hard)

– The engine runs less efficiently with oil.

(less efficiently: comparative of efficiently)Marie runs as fast as Chloe.

Superlative Adverb

The superlative is the greatest degree of contrast. It presents the feature at its highest or lowest degree of objects of the same class. Superlative adverbs relate three or more words, phrases, or clauses. The superlative form of utmost adverbs is formed by adding the adverb most to the adverb phrase. However, some adverbs such as hard, fast, and early take the -est suffix in the superlative form. Some adverbs have irregular comparative forms as in well and best or badly and worst.

Example:

– He arrives at the earliest of all the employees.

– Soap kills germs most efficiently in warm water.

– I have found that the Bulldozer runs best with the diesel on and the heating down.

(best: superlative of the well)

– The gift is most gratefully accepted.

(most gratefully: superlative of gratefully)

– It was apparent that they were not used to high heels, but James moved least gracefully of all.

(least gracefully: superlative of gracefully)

– She answered most abruptly.

(most abruptly: superlative of abruptly)She runs faster.

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