Glossary: comparative

Explanation

The form of adjectives (and some adverbs) that ends in -er (e.g. quieter, faster). Sometimes a periphrastic form is used, e.g. more competent (rather than *competenter).

Adjectives

A very simple definition of adjectives that has sometimes been used is that they are ‘descriptive’ words. But this isn’t really very helpful. Lots of word classes can be ‘descriptive’: a noun like funeral is fairly descriptive, as is the verb leap. We might also say that the adverb quickly describes the verb ran in a sentence like He quickly ran.

Adverbs

Adverbs are words that typically modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb or an entire sentence:

  • ‘I keep hoping they'll come back,’ Tanya said despairingly. [W2F-006 #244]

In this case the adverb modifies the verb said.

  • It’s a very fast road all the way. [S1A-021 #195]

In this case the adverb modifies the adjective fast.

Word structure: Inflection

Inflection is the process by which a single word takes different forms. For example, if we have the noun cat, we can add a plural ending to it to create cats. This is known as inflecting a noun and the ending we add is called a suffix.

What are the plural forms of the following nouns?

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