Use of Adjectives

This, that, these, those. — The plural of this is these and of that is those. Mistakes are often made by using these and those with Singular Nouns’, as,

  • I am very fond of these kinds of flowers.
    [Here ‘kind’ is Singular; these should be this]
  • We never associate with those sorts of people.
    [Here again ‘sort’ is Singular; therefore ‘those ’should be ‘that’]

Comparison of Adjectives

When only two things are compared, the Comparative Degree of the Adjective should be used. The use of the Superlative Degree in such cases is a frequent source of error; as,

This is the best book of the two. [Should be ‘better’].

She is the tallest of the two sisters, [Should be ‘taller’].

Who is most intelligent — Rama or Krishna? (should be ‘more intelligent).


Which is the better (not, best) of the two?

Of the two evils, choose the lesser one. (not, least).

  • When a comparison is made by means of a Comparative followed by then, the thing that is compared must always be excluded from the class of things with which it is compared, by using the word other, as,
    ‘Gold is more precious than any other metal.’

If we say —

‘Gold is more precious than any metal’ means that ‘gold’ is more precious than gold; since gold itself is metal. Other examples are: Harry plays better than any other boy.

Shakespeare is greater than any other dramatist.

Solomon was wiser than all other men.

  • When a comparison is made by means of a Superlative, the thing or class of things compared should be included in the comparison of the Superlative; as,

He is the wisest of all men (not, all other men).

The Ganges is the holiest of all rivers.

Ashok is the most intelligent of all boys.

Of any is often used incorrectly with a Superlative; as,

  • Incorrect: Solomon was the wisest of any man.
  • Correct: Solomon was the wisest of all men.
  • Incorrect: The Statesman has the largest circulation of any newspaper.
  • Correct: The Statesman has the largest circulation of all newspapers.

When the second term of comparison is given, it must correspond in construction with the first. It is incorrect to say :

The population of Mumbai is greater than any town in Europe. Say— The population of Mumbai is greater than that of any town in Europe. The comparison is between —

  • The population of Mumbai, and
  • The population of any town in Europe.

Study the following examples :

The wealth of America is greater than that of England.

The streets of Mumbai are cleaner than those of Kolkata.

Double Comparatives and Superlatives must be avoided; as,

He is cleverer than Ali. [Omit ‘more ’.]

Ali is the wisest of all. [Omit ‘most’.]

But lesser (a Double Comparative) is often used even by the best writers; as, ‘The lesser of the two evils.’

  • Comparatives ending in -or are followed by to instead of than; as,

Superior: Ashok’s painting is superior to Hari’s.

Inferior: He is inferior to him in social position.

Senior: He is senior to me by five years.

Junior: He is junior to me by four years.

The Correct Use Of Some Adjectives

  • Later, Latter; latest, last. — Later and latest denote time: Latter and last denote position.

He came later than I.                     This is the latest news.

Smith and Jones went together. The former was a painter, the latter an artist. He lives in the last house.

  • Elder, older, eldest, oldest. — Elder and eldest are used of persons only; they denote the position of one member of a family with reference to another or others of the same family. Elder is never followed by than, Older and oldest are used for both persons and things.

He is my elder brother.
His eldest son joined the Army.
He is older than his brother.
He is the oldest man in the village.
This is the oldest house in Mumbai.

  • Farther, further. — Farther denotes a greater distance between two points; further means something additional.

Mumbai is farther from Delhi than Kolkata.
We can’t go any farther without a rest.
I will do this without further delay.
We must get further information.

  • Nearest, next. — Nearest denotes space or distance; next denotes order or position.

We took the thief to the nearest police station.
Mohan lives in the next house.

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