Definitions

comparative psych-ology

Comparative

[kuhm-par-uh-tiv]
In grammar, the comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb which denotes the degree or grade by which a person, thing, or other entity has a property or quality greater or less in extent than that of another, and is used in this context with a subordinating conjunction, such as than, as...as, etc.

Structure

The structure of a comparative in English consists normally of the positive form of the adjective or adverb, plus the suffix -er, or (in the case of polysyllabic words borrowed from foreign languages) the modifier "more" (or "less") before the adjective or adverb. The form is usually completed by "than" and the noun which is being compared, e.g. "he is taller than his father is", or "the village is less picturesque than the town nearby". "Than" is used as a subordinating conjunction to introduce the second element of a comparative sentence while the first element expresses the difference ("our new house is larger than the old one").

Two-clause sentences

For sentences with the two clauses other two-part comparative subordinating conjunctions may be used:

  1. as...as ("the house was as large as two put together")
  2. not so/not as ...as ("the coat of paint is not as [not so] fresh as it used to be")
  3. the same ... as ("the market square is just the same as I remember it")
  4. less/more ... than ("It cost me more than I had hoped").

Adverbs

The adverb is determined by the -ly suffix as usual, and in a comparative phrase changes to -lier. However, adverbs with a greater number of syllables than two, require the use of more (or less), as in ("this sofa seats three people more comfortably than the other one"). Some irregular adverbs such as fast/often may be added without the suffix, ("my new car starts more quickly than the old one"), or ("my new car starts quicker/faster than the old one"), and ("I go into town more often than I used to").

Null comparative

The null comparative is a comparative in which the starting point for comparison is not stated. These comparisons are frequently found in advertising. For example, in typical assertions such as "our burgers have more flavor", "our picture is sharper" or "50% more", there is no mention of what it is they are comparing to. In some cases it is easy to infer what the missing element in a null comparative is. In other cases the speaker or writer may have been deliberately vague in this regard, for example "Glasgow's miles better".

Greater/lesser

Scientific classification, taxonomy and geographical categorization conventionally include the adjectives greater and lesser, when a large or small variety of an item is meant, as in greater as opposed to lesser celandine. These adjectives may at first sight appear as a kind of null comparative, when as is usual, they are cited without their opposite counterpart. It is clear however, when reference literature is consulted that an entirely different variety of animal, scientific or geographical object is intended. Thus it may be found, for example, that the lesser panda entails a giant panda variety, and a gazetteer would establish that there are the Lesser Antilles as well as the Greater Antilles.

It is in the nature of grammatical conventions evolving over time that it is difficult to establish when they first became widely accepted, but both greater and lesser in these instances have over time become mere adjectives (or adverbial constructs), so losing their comparative connotation.

When referring to metropolitan areas, Greater indicates that adjacent areas such as suburbs are being included. Although it implies a comparison with a narrower definition that refers to a central city only, such as Greater London versus City of London, it is not part of the "comparative" in the grammatical sense this article describes. A comparative always compares something directly with something else. It does not look for conceptual differences as "city" versus a concept such as a "named area" and has two clauses with subordinating conjunctions (than, etc.).

References

See also

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