H elder, eldest; older, oldest

elder, eldestimply seniority rather than age. They are chiefly used for comparisons within a family: my elder brother, her eldest boy/girl; but elderis not used with than,so olderis necessary here:

He is older than I am. (elder would not be possible.) In colloquial English eldest, oldest and youngestare often used of only two boys/girls/children etc.:

His eldest boy's at school; the other is still at home. This is particularly common when eldest, oldestare used as pronouns:

Tom is the eldest, (of the two) (See 24 B.)

21 Constructions with comparisons (see also 341)

A With the positive form of the adjective, we use as ... as in the affirmative and not as/not so ... asin the negative A boy of sixteen is often as tall as his father He was as white as a sheet Manslaughter is not as/so bad as murder Your coffee is not as/so good as the coffee my mother makes

B With the comparative we use than

The new tower blocks are much higher than the old buildings

He makes fewer mistakes than you (do)

He is stronger than I expected -

I didn 't expect him to be so strong

It was more expensive than I thought =

I didn't think it would be so expensive

When than... is omitted, it is very common in colloquial English to use a superlative instead of a comparative This is the best way could be said when there are only two ways (See comparatives, superlatives used as pronouns, 24 B )

C Comparison of three or more people/things is expressed by the

superlative with the . . . in/of

This is the oldest theatre in London

The youngest of the family was the most successful

A relative clause is useful especially with a perfect tense It/This is the best beer (that) I have ever drunk It/This was the worst film (that) he had ever seen He is the kindest man (that) I have ever met It was the most worrying day (that) he had ever spent

Note that everis used here, not neverWe can, however, express

the same idea with neverand a comparative

/ have never drunk better beer I have neier met a kinder man He had never spent a more worrying day

Note that most+ adjective, without the, means veryYou are most kind means You are very kind

mostmeaning veryis used mainly with adjectives of two or more

syllables annoying, apologetic, disobedient, encouraging, exciting,

helpful important, misleading etc

D Parallel increase is expressed by the + comparative the + comparative

HOLSE AGENT Do you want a big house?

ANN Yes, the bigger the better

TOM But the smaller it is, the less it will cost us to heat

E Gradual increase or decrease is expressed by two comparatives joined by and



The weather is getting colder and colder He became less and less interested

p Comparison of actions with gerunds or infinitives

Riding a horse is not as easy as riding a motor cycle It is nicer/more fun to go with someone than to go alone (See 341 )

G Comparisons with like(preposition) and alike

Tom is very like Bill Bill and Tom are very alike

He keeps the central heating full on It's like living in the tropics

H Comparisons with likeand as(both adverb and adjective expressions are shown here) In theory like(preposition) is used only with noun, pronoun or gerund

He swims like a fish You look like a ghost

Be like Peter/him go jogging

The windows were all barred It was like being in prison and as (conjunction) is used when there is a finite verb

Do as Peter does go jogging

Why don't you cycle to work as we do? But m colloquial English likeis often used here instead of as

Cycle to work like we do

I like+ noun and as + noun

He worked like a slave (very hard indeed)

He worked as a slave (He was a slave )

She used her umbrella as a weapon (She struck him with it)

22 than/as+ pronoun + auxiliary

A When the same verb is required before and after than/aswe can use an auxiliary for the second verb

/ earn less than he does (less than he earns) The same tense need not be used in both clauses

He knows more than I did at his age

B When the second clause consists only of than/as + I/we/you+ verb, and there is no change of tense, it is usually possible to omit the verb

I'm not as old as you (are) He has more time than I/we (have) In formal English we keep I/we, as the pronoun is still considered to be the subject of the verb even though the verb has been omitted In informal English, however, me/usis more usual

He has more time than me They are richer than us

C When than/asis followed by he/she/it+ verb, we normally keep the verb You are stronger than he is

But we can drop the verb and use he/she/theyin very formal English or him/her/themin very colloquial English These rules apply also to comparisons made with adverbs

/ swim better than he does/better than him



They work harder than we do/harder than us

You can't type as fast as I can/as fast as me

23 the + adjective with a plural meaning

A blind, deaf, disabled, healthy/sick, living/dead, rich/poor, unemployedand certain other adjectives describing the human character or condition can be preceded by the and used to represent a class of persons. These expressions have a plural meaning; they take a plural verb and the pronoun is they:

The poor get poorer; the rich get richer.

the can be used in the same way with national adjectives ending in ch or sh:

the Dutch the Spanish the Welsh and can be used similarly with national adjectives ending in se or ss:

the Burmese the Chinese the Japanese the Swiss though it is just possible for these to have a singular meaning.

B Note that the + adjective here refers to a group of people considered in a general sense only. If we wish to refer to a particular group, we must add a noun:

These seats are for the disabled.

The disabled members of our party were let in free.

The French like to eat well.

The French tourists complained about the food.

Some colours can be used in the plural to represent people but these take s like nouns: the blacks, the whites.

C the + adjective can occasionally have a singular meaning: the accused (person) the unexpected (thing)

24 Adjectives + one/onesand adjectives used as pronouns

A Most adjectives can be used with the pronouns one/ones, when one/onesrepresents a previously mentioned noun:

Don't buy the expensive apples; get the cheaper ones.

Hard beds are healthier than soft ones.

I lost my old camera; this is a new one. Similarly with a number + adjective:

If you haven't got a big plate, two small ones will do.

B Adjectives used as pronouns

first/secondetc. can be used with or without one/ones;i.e. they can be used as adjectives or pronouns:

Which train did you catch? ~ I caught the first (one). the + superlative can be used similarly:

Tom is the best (runner). The eldest was only ten. and sometimes the + comparative:

Which (of these two) is the stronger?

But this use of the comparative is considered rather literary, and in informal English a superlative is often used here instead:

Which (of these two) is the strongest?

Adjectives of colour can sometimes be used as pronouns:

I like the blue (one) best.

Colours of horses, especially bay, chestnut, greyare often used as pronouns and take s in the plural:

Everyone expected the chestnut to win.

The coach was drawn by four greys.

25 manyand much(adjectives and pronouns)


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