Sometimes an irregular label on an item of clothing indicates that something about it is slightly different. Similarly, irregular comparatives function the same way regular comparative adjectives do, but they aren’t formed the same way. First, what is a comparative adjective?
Adjectives describe nouns and pronouns. Comparative adjectives describe one object in relation to another object. Did you ever hear the fable of the tortoise and the hare? In a race, the hare was a faster runner than the tortoise. Faster describes how quickly the hare ran compared with his opponent, the tortoise. The tortoise moved at a steadier pace than the hare. Steadier describes the tortoise’s pace relative to the hare’s pace. (If you’d like to know who won, you can read a version of the story on StoryArts.com.)
If you buy a shirt with an irregular label, one feature of it will deviate from the norm—perhaps it has a shorter midriff or a longer-than-average sleeve. The feature of comparative adjectives that differs is how they are formed. Look at the two examples from the story. By addinger to fast, you get faster. You change the y of steady to i before adding er. Most one-syllable comparatives follow this pattern; those that don’t are called irregular comparatives.
For instance, consider the adjective bad. To form the comparative adjective, you wouldn’t say badder. Instead, you would say worse. Thankfully for those trying to memorize them, there are not many irregular comparatives. Here’s a list of the most common ones.
Bad → Worse
Good → Better
Far → Farther
Well → Better
In summary, adjectives are describing words. Comparative adjectives describe one object relative to another item. Usually, they are formed by adding er to the adjective form. Rarely, the comparative form of an adjective doesn’t follow the pattern. In those cases, just think of it as a T-shirt with an irregular label. It’s still a T-shirt; perhaps it’s just a little different from the norm.
Read more: The Basics of Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
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