Comparative / Superlative Adjective and Adverb

Learn how to use them

Language of comparison and contrast

In Describe Image items, you are likely to be presented with a graph. In these cases, it is important that you show appropriate relationships by comparing and contrasting the information contained in the graphs. Let’s see how you can use language of comparison and contrast.

Comparative adjectives: Use these when comparing two nouns and can be formed as follows:

  • Adjectives with one syllable: add ‘-r/-er’ (e.g. higher, larger, bigger).
  • Adjectives with two syllables ending in ‘-y’: change the ‘y’ and add ‘-ier’ (e.g. happier, prettier).
  • Adjectives ending in ‘-ed’ or ‘-ing’ and most adjectives with two syllables: add ‘more’ before the adjective (e.g. more boring, more crowded, more common, more peaceful).
  • Adjectives with three or more syllables: use ‘more’ before the adjective (e.g. more attractive, more successful).
  • Include ‘than’ as part of your sentence (e.g. It is more expensive to live in a city than in a small town).

Superlative adjectives: Use these when describing a noun that is at the highest or lowest limit of a group. They can be formed as follows:

  • Adjectives with one syllable: add ‘-st/-est’ (e.g. highest, largest, biggest).
  • Adjectives with two syllables ending in ‘-y’: change the ‘y’ and add ‘-iest’ (e.g. happiest, prettiest).
  • Adjectives ending in ‘-ed’ or ‘-ing’ and most adjectives with two syllables: add ‘the most’ before the adjective (e.g. the most boring, the most crowded, the most common, the most peaceful).
  • Adjectives with three or more syllables: use ‘the most’ before the adjective (e.g. the most attractive, the most successful).
  • Remember to include ‘the’ before the adjective or most (e.g. This was the cheapest car I could find.).

Comparative/superlative adverbs: The rules above apply when the comparison requires the use of an adverb. Examples:

  • I usually speak more quickly than my friends.
  • The students often work harder towards the end of the semester.
  • You can contact me the easiest by text.
  • The team played the best they could, but they didn’t win the match.

as … as: Use this structure when the two nouns being compared are equal in some form. The adjective does not change. Examples:

  • Divorce rates are twice as high as they were last year.
  • This room is as big as the one next door.

This structure can also be used with adverbs to compare two actions:

  • We didn’t finish as quickly as we’d hoped.
  • The presenter spoke as enthusiastically as he possibly could.

Comparison and contrast language is especially useful for Describe Image tasks. Look at some example sentences from student responses to this item type:

  • The land allocated for the public park is significantly smaller than the land allocated for the school.
  • The roads are much busier during June than they are in December.
  • The most important export for this country is oil.

© Macquarie University

A, An, it The

Learn the rules and study the e examples.

Articles

Articles are words which go before nouns and their function is to show if a noun is either specific or general. Let’s study the different types of articles:

The Definite Article: ‘The’

‘The’ is the definite article and it is used to refer to a specific noun. It can be used with singular, plural, and uncountable nouns. Examples:

  • Please use the correct form to submit theapplication. (singular)
  • The final results will be released in November. (plural)
  • Fish breathe the oxygen in the water. (uncountable)

‘The’ can also be used in these cases:

  • When there is only one thing of something: e.g. The sun is very bright
  • When something has been mentioned before: e.g. I saw a mouse. The mouse was huge.
  • With the names of seas, oceans, rivers and countries with a plural noun: e.g. TheMississippi River is in the United States.
  • In noun + of + noun phrases: e.g. The south of France is beautiful.
  • In superlatives: e.g. The tallest building in the world is over 800 metres tall.

Do not use ‘the’ with the following:

  • Names of most cities, countries or continents: Sydney, India (not the Sydney, or the India)
  • Days of the weeks and months: On Monday, In March (not on the Monday, in the March)
  • Sports: I play soccer, (not I play the soccer)

Indefinite Articles: ‘A/An’

This type of article uses the forms ‘a’ or ‘an’ and it is used with singular countable nouns denoting a general idea. ‘A/an’ can be used:

  • The first time the noun is mentioned: e.g. I saw a mouse. The mouse was huge.
  • With jobs: e.g. He is an architect, She works as a teacher.

Consider the following when using indefinite articles:

  • Use ‘a’ if the word begins with a consonant (e.g. a house, a long movie). Exception: if the consonant is unpronounced, use ‘an’ instead (e.g. an honest person).
  • Use ‘an’ if the word starts with a vowel (e.g. an umbrella, an expensive car). Exception: if the vowel is pronounced with a consonant sound, use ‘a’ (e.g. a university, a useful tip).
  • Do not use ‘a’ or ‘an’ with uncountable nouns: e.g. I want a water. In these cases, use ‘some’ or include a countable noun: I want somewater. / I want a glass of water.

The Zero Article

As its name suggests, this is when an article is not used before a noun. This occurs when referring to nouns with a general or abstract meaning, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns.

  • Elephants in Africa are under threat. (general: all elephants in Africa)
  • Oil and water don’t mix.

The zero article can be used when referring to:

  • Languages: I speak French (not the French)
  • Places, such as Wall Street, Macquarie University, JFK Airport, Bangkok, England.
  • Academic subjects: My favourite subject is biology (not the biology)
  • Meals: We need to have breakfast (not the breakfast

If Clauses – 0,1,2,3

Conditionals

Conditionals are complex sentences which use the subordinator if.

There are four main types of conditionals and they differ depending on the time (past, present or future) and on how likely the event or state is.

Look at the following examples. What is the structure of each type? What type of event does each type discuss?

Zero conditional

If a student fails the course, they do not progress to the next level.

First conditional

If the book is returned late, you will receive a fine.

Second conditional

If I had more time, I would edit my essay again.

Third conditional

If the student hadn’t handed the essay in late, he wouldn’t have failed.

How did you go? Let’s see how can you make each type of conditional.

Note: The if clause can be the first clause in the sentence or the second clause.

Examples:

1 – The speaker stated that if she solve one environmental problem it would be global warming.

2 – The speaker claimed that if the changes been made, the number of people failing the course would have increased.

3 – If you require an extension, you should speak to your lecturer.

4 – If your grades do not improve, you will have to get a tutor.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/

Skills for Reading Quickly

The first time you read a text intensively:

  • Focus on the content words (usually nouns, verbs, adjectives)

It is easy to read this by focusing on the content words in bold.

  • Read in groups of two or more words (read phrases not words) eg subject + verb + object

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • Prepositional phrases

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • In complex sentences, identify and focus on the main clause

Vary your reading rate

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  • An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence: Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  • Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure: Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  • Unfamiliar or abstract ideas: Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time.
  • Detailed, technical material: This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have little background.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  • Simple material with few ideas new to you:Move rapidly over the familiar.
  • Unnecessary examples and illustrations:These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them quickly.
  • Detailed explanation: Elaboration which you do not need can be scanned quickly.
  • Broad, generalised ideas: These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/pte-success/1/steps/930514

Writing a summary

How to summarise

The following outlines the three stages and steps for summarising.

Before writing:

  • Quickly scan the passage to identify the topic and purpose.
  • Read the passage carefully to understand the content. Try to infer the meaning of any unknown words and phrases.
  • Re-read the passage and note down the topic sentences and key words on your erasable noteboard.

While writing:

  • Stick to the topic and purpose of the text. Keep the meaning and degree of certainty the same as the original writing.
  • Focus on the key words and the main ideas only. Key points in the text will usually be repeated, developed and highlighted; include these in your writing.
  • Write your summary without referring to the original, making sure to include all the main points. Do not include examples or supporting evidence in your summary.
  • Use vocabulary that is relevant to the passage and appropriate for an academic environment. The best test responses use words from the passage appropriately and use synonyms effectively to show variety and range in language use.
  • Do not add anything to the summary that was not present in the original and you should not include your opinion.

After writing

  • Check the content of your summary to make sure it conveys the main ideas in the passage.
  • Check that the basic structure of the sentence is correct. The best test responses are usually complex sentences that consist of a main clause and subordinate clause.
  • Check punctuation and spelling. Make sure your sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.
  • Check the length of your summary. Make sure you write only one sentence that is no more than 75 words long. Check your word count after you have typed your response.