Advanced Grammar for IELTS with Comparison Exercises

One of the basic requirements that need to be fulfilled by IELTS candidates is to have a good grasp of grammar. In order to achieve a high band score in IELTS, it is important to have advanced knowledge and understanding of the use of grammatical structures and devices.

In this article, we have covered the topic of comparison to help you understand its use in various situations. It includes a diagnostic test, grammar explanation and practice exercises for advanced comparative structures and degrees of comparison.

Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Comparison – Diagnostic Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises

The items compared in IELTS writing task 2 share the same characteristics or qualities, but the intensity is either greater or smaller than each other. This can be done in two ways:

  • Examining the similarities with different levels
  • Examining the similarities in different ways using two sentences.

Diagnostic Test: Comparison

Nine of these sentences contain mistakes. Tick (✓) the correct sentences, then find and correct the mistakes.


  • Which of these three houses in the expensivest? ==> ……most expensive ……
    1. Come on, you’ve got to admit she’s much slimmer than you!
    2. She’s always saying she’s better looking than I.
    3. Our cat Whiskers has been much more lively since we added vitamin supplements to her diet.
    4.  We felt the male character was realer than the female, who seemed very artificial.
    5. ‘Which do you prefer, darling, the brown or the green?’ ‘Oh, the green is definitely the best.’
    6. I’m most proudest of this one. I won it against really stiff competition.
    7. The divorce has made him the most unhappy man in the street, don’t you think?
    8. That special diet has worked miracles. He’s much less fat than he used to be
    9. The eldest piece in the museum is this Egyptian amulet from the Third Dynasty.
    10. Hasn’t their eldest son just landed some sort of job in Seattle?
    11. Our new social security scheme is lots more generous than the previous Government’s.
    12. Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle of Britain
    13. Things are about as worse as they can get.
    14. Children these days seem to get ruder and ruder and ruder
    15. I’m angrier than upset. Complete each sentence so that it means exactly the same as the preceding one.

You must include the word(s) in brackets.


  • I predicted the weather would be very hot and I was right. (just as. The weatherwas just as hot as I predicted
  1. The Hyperlink modem is much faster than all the others in our catalogue. (by far). Of all the modems_______
  2. Jan and Lucy are equally good at tennis. (no). Jan is ______Lucy at tennis
  3. Getting a made-to-measure suit was much cheaper than I expected. (not nearly). Getting a made-to-measure suit________.
  4. I couldn’t open the lock because it was very cold. (that). It ____________open the lock.
  5. He gets increasingly angry as he becomes more frustrated. (angrier). The more ________he gets.

Grammar Explanation: Comparison

Gradable adjectives can be used to make comparisons. The rules for the production of comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are generally straightforward but there can be difficulties with spelling, exceptions in use, and the different phrases which accompany them. This unit also describes ways of making comparisons without using comparative and superlative forms, e.g. with like and as.

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Degree of comparison: Rules, Form and Use

Hot Dog €1.50Hamburger € 2.75
Fish Burger € 2.75Cheeseburger € 3.95

We use comparative adjectives to compare two (or more) things or people, and superlative adjectives to distinguish one thing or person from a number of others. This table shows the forms of comparative and superlative adjectives and the basic patterns they are used in:

Comparative adjectivesSuperlative adjectives

adjectives with one syllable:






ending in silent -e: safe

ending in a consonant + y: dry

ending in a single vowel +

a single consonant: big

adjective + -er (+ than).

The hamburger is cheaper (than the cheeseburger).

The mop is wetter (than it was before)

He is duller ( than he was yesterday)

This velvet cloth is softer ( than other clothes)

This room is tidier (than it was before)

omit final -e: safer

change y to i: drier

double the final consonant:


the + adjective + -est:

The hot dog is the cheapest

The is the wettest mop I’ve ever seen

He is the dullest in class.

The cloth is the softest in the store

This room is the tidiest

omit final -e: the safest

change y to i: the driest

double the final consonant:

the biggest

adjectives with two or more syllables:


more + adjective:

  • The hamburger is more expensive (than the hot dog).

the most + adjective:

  • The cheeseburger is the most expensive.

irregular adjectives:

good/ bad



better/ worse

further/ farther

older/ elder

the best/ worst

furthest/ farthest

oldest/ eldest

We can use than to introduce a clause after a comparative adjective:

  • Los Angeles is bigger than I expected it to be

We can use other phrases between a comparative adjective and a than clause:

  • Burgers were more expensive in this restaurant than in the others we visited. 

Note: If the object of the comparison is a pronoun without a verb we usually use an object pronoun. If there is a verb we use a subject pronoun:

  • I'[m taller than he.] ✓ I’m taller than him  I’m taller than he is.

Note: When we have two or more adjectives with more in a list, we usually only use more once:

  • [Lester and Craves were more hardworking and more determined than the others.]

 ✓ Lester and Graves were more hardworking and determined than the others.

When we refer to a place or group we use ‘in’ not ‘of’ after superlatives.

 X New York is one of the largest cities of the world.

 ✓ the world.

 X He s by far the cleverest student of his class.

 ✓in his class.

But in formal English we can put an ‘of’ phrase at the beginning of the sentence, before the superlative.

  • Of the students in his class, he is the cleverest.


There are some exceptions to the rules of form and the patterns of use listed above. One-syllable adjectives ending in -ed and the adjectives real, right and wrong form the comparative and superlative with more and most (they do not take -er and -est):

 X I was broader than I was on the flight to Sydney.

 ✓ I was more bored than I was on the flight to Sydney.

Many two-syllable adjectives ending in -ly. -y, -ow. -r and -l and the adjectives common, handsome, mature, pleasant, polite, simple and stupid can have either more and most or -er and -est:

  • The photographer wanted something more lively (or livelier).
  • Your son needs to develop a mature (or more mature) attitude to his work.

When we add a negative prefix to two-syllable adjectives ending in -y (e.g. happy -unhappy) they can still take -er and -est:

  • He’s the unhappiest man in the world.

Note: In informal spoken English we sometimes use a superlative adjective when we are only comparing two things, especially if the two things make a set:

  • I’ve got two cars but the Mercedes is the best

Irregular Adjectives

We can use elder and eldest (instead of older and oldest) to talk about people’s ages, especially people in the same family, but we can’t use elder immediately after a verb:

  • Their eldest I oldest son went to Harvard. Mary is the eldest/the oldest.

 X My sister is elder (than me).  My sister is older (than me).

Note that we don’t use elder and eldest to talk about the age of things:

 X This is the eldest house in the street. ✓ This is the oldest house in the street.

We use further or farther to talk about a ‘greater distance’:

  • John’s house is the farther one.
  • I’ve moved further away from my parents. (= a greater distance away)

Note: We use further (not farther) with the meaning of ‘extra’ or ‘more’:

  • Let me know if you have any further questions. (= extra/more)

Emphasis and Strength

Most one-syllable adjectives can also form the comparative and superlative with more or most instead of -er or -est. We usually use this form for emphasis in spoken English:

  • You should be more proud of the things you’ve already achieved. (= prouder)
  • I think this is the one she is the most proud of. (= proudest)

Comparatives can be made stronger or weaker by inserting a word or phrase in front of them:

Stronger: even, (very) much, far, a lot, lots (informal), considerably, a great deal (formal) + comparative:

  • The cheeseburger’s even more expensive than the fish burger.

Weaker: a little, slightly, a bit (informal), somewhat (formal) + comparative:

  • The hot dog’s a bit cheaper than the hamburger. 

We can make a superlative weaker or stronger in the same way.

Stronger: by far, easily (informal) + superlative:

  • He’s by far the cleverest student in his class. (= He is much cleverer than the others.)
  • She’s easily the best programmer in the company. (informal) (= She is much better than the others.)

Weaker: one of, some of + superlative:

  • New York is one of the largest cities in the world. (= There may be some larger.)


To say that two things are equal we can use patterns like is + no + comparative or is not + any + comparative:

  • The fish burger is no more expensive than the hamburger. (= They are the same price.)
  • The fish burger isn’t any cheaper than the hamburger. (= They are the same price.)

Less and Least

We use less and least as the opposite of more and most. We use these words with all adjectives including one-syllable adjectives:

  • I prefer the paisley pattern; it’s less bold than the others.
  • The hot dog is the least expensive.

Note: But in informal English we usually prefer to make negative comparisons of this kind with not as …as:

  • I prefer the paisley pattern; it isn’t as bold as the others.

Adjectives with As, So, Too, Enough and Such


We can say that two things are equal by using as + adjective + as.

  • The hamburger is as expensive as the fish burger.

We make this comparison more emphatic with just:

  • We really shouldn’t have gone; it’s just as bad as I predicted it would be!

To say that things are almost equal we use just about, about, almost or nearly.

  • I’ve had just about as much as I can take.
  • She’s nearly as old as I was when I got married.

Not as….as

We make a negative comparison with not as/ so + adjective + as.

  • The hot dog isn’t as expensive as the hamburger. (= The hot dog is cheaper.)

We can modify this comparison with nearly or quite:

  • The hot dog isn’t nearly so expensive as the cheeseburger. (= It is much cheaper.)
  • The hot dog isn’t quite as expensive as the hamburger. (= It is slightly cheaper.)

In informal spoken English we can use not anything like, nothing like or nowhere near + as + adjective:

  • The fish burger isn’t anything like as expensive as the cheeseburger.
  • The fish burger’s nothing like (or nowhere near) as expensive as the cheeseburger.

So, too and enough

We use another type of ‘comparison’ when we describe the result of a particular quality or characteristic. We can use several structures:

so + adjective + [that] clause:

  • I’m afraid I can’t identify her. It was so dark (that) I couldn’t see her face. (= It was very dark. The result was that I couldn’t see her face.)

too + adjective (+ for/to phrase):

  • It was too dark (for me) (to see her face).

(not) adjective + enough (+ for/ to phrase):

  • It wasn’t light enough (for me) (to see her face).

A more formal alternative to these forms is so + adjective + as to phrase:

  • It was so dark as to make it impossible to see her face. 

As and such

We can use as and such to introduce a comparison. There are two patterns:

as + adjective + a + noun + as:

  • It wasn’t as bad a result as I’d expected. (= it was a better result than I’d expected.)

such a + adjective + noun + as (or that clause):

  • It wasn’t such a bad result as I had expected.
  • It was such a dark night that I couldn’t really see her face.

Other Types of Comparison

Progressive Comparison

We can describe how something increases or decreases by repeating the same comparative two or sometimes three times, putting and between the forms:

  • Her visits to the country to see her son became rarer and rarer (= increasingly rare)
  • As the illness progressed the patients grew more and more detached from reality.
  • Marching into the sunset, the figures became smaller and smaller and smaller

Combined Comparison

To describe how a change in one thing causes a change in another, we can use two comparative forms with the. Note the use of the comma after the first clause:

  • The longer you leave it, the worse it’ll get.

We sometimes omit the verb be in the clauses:

  • The more sophisticated the product, the more substantial the potential profit.

Contrastive Comparison

When we contrast two related qualities, we always use more (not -er):

 X I ‘m sadder than disappointed.

 ✓ I’m more sad than disappointed.

  • Her eyes are more green than grey.

We can also use not so much …as or rather than:

  • I’m not so much disappointed as sad.
  • Her eyes are green rather than grey.

Like and As

We often describe something by comparing it to something else which has similar qualities. These comparisons are known as ‘similes’. There are two forms:

as + adjective + as:

  • Listening to her was about as interesting as watching paint dry.

(In informal English we sometimes omit the first as She looks white as a sheet.)

like + noun or verb phrase:

  • The cruise ship was like a skyscraper lying on its side

There are many idioms in which we use these two patterns:

  • You ‘re as white as a sheet: I think you’d better see a doctor.
  • I feel full of energy today – I slept like a log last night.

Note: We use like (not as) before a noun when we are making a comparison between two things which seem similar:

 X You look as a man who’s seen a ghost!

 ✓ You look like a man who’s seen a ghost!

  • When Mike puts on his dark suit he looks like a waiter (= He resembles a waiter.)

Note: We use as (not like) before a noun when we are describing someone’s job, role or identity, or something’s function:

 X Simon’s working like a waiter during the summer vacation.

 ✓ Simon’s working as a waiter during the summer vacation. (This is his job.)

  • Use your payroll number as a password for the computer. (This is its function.)

Note: We can also describe something by comparing it with something similar without using like or as, this is known as a ‘metaphor’:

  • We hope the new treaty will form a bridge between our two nations. (a bridge = metaphor for a link)

Metaphors are common in poetry and literary English:

  • Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines. (eye of heaven = metaphor for the sun)

Check out:

Degree of comparison : Practice Exercises with Answers

Take these tests on degree of comparison and increase your exam-readiness.

Q 1.

Fill the gaps with appropriate comparative and superlative forms of the adjectives in the box. Add than and the if necessary.


I’m rather worried about the side effects of aspirin. Can you recommend a __safer___alternative?

  1. And now we come to the award for_____actor in a leading role.
  2. It’s been raining non-stop. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be ______July on record!
  3. The authenticity of dialogue and setting often makes low-budget films seem_____the somewhat artificial version of reality in Hollywood movies.
  4. In medieval times people rarely travelled long distances. For most peasants_____they would ever travel would be to the local market town.
  5. In our study children on a diet high in dairy products tended to be considerably_____ average.
  6. Now that I’m employing a cleaner the house has become a lot _____it ever used to be!
  7. This skirt’s much too tight on the hips. I need something with a_____fit.
  8. DiCaprio was awful! I think that’s ______performance I’ve ever seen him give.
  9. I don’t mind the Mediterranean summer because it’s a_______ heat than you find in the tropics.
  10. They say the great pyramid at Giza is _____structure to survive from the ancient world.
  11. I like all Mozart’s operas but I think Don Giovanni is the one I am ________on.
  12. We inherited two paintings from my grandmother. Of the two, I’d say the landscape is______
  13. I know all murder is wrong, but don’t you agree that it’s_______to murder a child than to murder an adult?
  14. _______I’ve ever felt was when Joe and I were flying over the Himalayas and we hit a storm; it was absolutely petrifying.
  15. That play was so tedious. I was_______watching that than I was when I spent three hours trapped in that lift last year!

Q 2.

Match each sentence (1-7) with a sentence with the same meaning from A-G.

1. It’s slightly cheaperA. It’s considerably more expensive
2. It’s much cheaper.B. It’s the least expensive.
3. It isn’t anything like as cheapC. It’s more expensive.
4. It’s just as cheap.D. It’s somewhat less expensive.
5. It’s by far the cheapest.E. It’s no more expensive.
6. It isn’t quite as cheap.F. It’s slightly more expensive.
7. It isn’t as cheap.G. It’s nothing like as expensive.

Q 3.

Tick (✓) the best explanation, A or B.

1. The prices on the menu aren’t nearly as expensive as I expected.

  1. Prices are a little cheaper than I expected.
  2. Prices are much cheaper than I expected.

2. It looks as if your new car isn’t any more reliable than the old one!

  1. Both cars are equally unreliable.
  2. The new car is slightly less reliable than the old one.

3. Of all the teams in the league, theirs is the least successful.

  1. Their team is the most unsuccessful.
  2. Their team is less successful than some of the others.

4. They said it was one of the most powerful earthquakes ever.

  1. No other earthquake was as powerful.
  2. There may have been more powerful earthquakes.

5. The new tax regulations are somewhat more rigorous than last year’s.

  1. The new regulations are much more rigorous than last year’s.
  2. Last year’s regulations were slightly less rigorous.

6. I have to say that the hotel wasn’t quite as luxurious as the brochure claimed.

  1. The hotel was much less luxurious than the brochure claimed.
  2. The hotel was slightly less luxurious than the brochure claimed.

7. This is by far the best seat in the plane. There’s loads of legroom.

  1. No seat in the plane is better.
  2. Other seats may be equally good.

8. She isn’t anything like as snobbish as you said.

  1. She is less snobbish than you said.
  2. She isn’t snobbish.

9. I’m afraid your figures are no more accurate than the ones Rachel gave me.

  1. Your figures are less accurate than Rachel’s.
  2. Your figures and Rachel’s figures are equally inaccurate.

10. As far as Daniel’s job is concerned, things are about as bad as they can be.

  1. Daniel’s job could get worse.
  2. Daniel’s job couldn’t be any worse than it is.

Q 4.

Complete each sentence so that it means the same as preceding one(s). Use the words in brackets but do not change the words given in any way.

  • As students get closer to their exams they become more nervous. (the … more)
  • The closer students… get to their exams, the more nervous they become……
  • The lecture was very boring. As a result, I fell asleep. (so … that)

1. The lecture ________

  • The tickets sold out within days because the concert was so well-publicized. (such … that)

2. It was _________

  • The wording of the document is very complicated. It’s incomprehensible. (so … as to)

3. The wording of the document_________

  • I couldn’t find my contact lens because it was very dark. (too)

4. It was________

  • My friends claimed that the exhibition was interesting but I found it pretty dull. (exhibition)

5. It wasn’t as_________

  • She’s slightly angry but she’s very disappointed. (than)

6. She’s __________

  • Approaching the church, we noticed the sound of the bells becoming increasingly loud. (and … and)

7. Approaching the church, we noticed the sound of the bells _________

  • As dogs get older they become less aggressive. (the less)

8. The older dogs ________

  • My son can’t get a place at kindergarten because he’s too young. (enough)

9. My son isn’t _________

  • Their remarks were only slightly insulting, but they were extremely inaccurate. (not so much)

10. Their remarks _______

Q 5.

Match the situations (1-15) with the similes (A-P). Then use the similes to rewrite the sentences. You may need to use a good dictionary for this exercise.

A. like a cat on a hot tin roofI. like hot cakes
B. like a trooperJ. as a fiddle
C. like a lamb to the slaughterK. as a feather
D. like a bull in a china shopL. as ice
E. like a bear with a sore headM. as the grave
F. like a logN. as a sheet
G. like a chimneyO. as a mule
H. like a rocketP. as the hills

Stonehenge is incredibly ancient, more than 4,000 years old.

(P) Stonehenge is as old as the hills

  1. She’s a heavy smoker.
  2. He’s incredibly clumsy and often breaks things.
  3. I slept really soundly last night.
  4. It’s absolutely freezing in here!
  5. She so naive, she doesn’t realize what a dangerous situation she’s going into.
  6. My grandmother maybe 85 but she’s incredibly fit and healthy.
  7. Do you feel all right? You’re very pale.
  8. He’s terribly nervous, he can’t keep still for a moment.
  9. She’s in a foul mood this morning, shouting at and arguing with everyone.
  10. Our new car goes really fast.
  11. My new flatmate never stops swearing.
  12. Once the lights were out the dormitory became eerily quiet.
  13. She doesn’t need to diet, she weighs hardly anything!
  14. Once the old man has made his mind up he never changes it, whatever you say.
  15. These new mobile phones are selling amazingly well.

Q 6.

Complete the following article. Use only one word for each space (1-20). Read through the whole text before you begin writing. The exercise begins with an example (0).


Hair Conditioners

For this week’s consumer test we’ve been looking at the (0)__most__popular choices of competing hair conditioner. We chose the three (1)___selling brands: Supremesoft, Vitabalm and ActiveShine, and gave them to our panel of ordinary consumers to try for a month.

Supreme soft**

At $2.99 for 250ml Supremesoft is the (2)____expensive of the three brands. But, surprisingly, price is no guide to quality as this brand was (3)____more effective (4)____the cheaper brands. On the other hand, the panel felt the packaging was (5)_____upscale than the competitors, and the conditioner itself had an attractive color and scent. But these advantages weren’t significant (6)_____to compensate for the extra cost.


Vitabalm is the (7)_____of the tested brands ($1.99 for 250ml). Our consumers thought the packaging wasn’t (8)______attractive (9)_____the others and the conditioner had what one tester described as ‘a rather chemical smell’. It was (10)_____as effective as the others in dealing with tangled hair, but testers with dry hair found that it wasn’t rich enough (11)______give their hair any extra body. And everyone agreed that it was (12)____harsh to be useable on a daily basis.

Active Shine***

This brand emerged as the (13)____all-round value for money. It had a strong smell, rather (14)_____an antiseptic cream, but the smell was not (15)_____strong as to be off-putting. Testers found that it was just as effective with greasy hair as with dry hair and it was (16)_____far the most successful with flyaway hair. ActiveShine doesn’t have (17)______a rich composition as Supremesoft, but our testers found that (18)_____more they used it, the (19)______noticeable the effect on their hair, so it was considered to be just as effective (20)_____the others in the long term.

So, at around $2.50 for 250ml ActiveShine receives this month’s three-star rating.

Answer Key for Diagnostic Test

  1. slimer ==> slimmer
  2. than I ==> than me/ than I am
  3. ✓ (but also much more lively ==> much livelier)
  4. realer ==> more real
  5. most proudest ==> proudest/ the most proud
  6. ✓ (but also the most unhappy ==> the unhappiest)
  7. eldest ==> oldest
  8. lots ==> a lot/considerably/ much/a great deal/even/far more
  9. of ==> in
  10. worse ==> bad
  11. angrier ==> more angry
  12. Of all the modems (in our catalog), the Hyperlink is by far the fastest/the fastest by far.
  13. Jan is no better/ Jan is no worse than Lucy at tennis.
  14. Getting a made-to-measure suit was not nearly as expensive as I expected.
  15. It was so cold that I couldn’t open the lock.
  16. The more frustrated he becomes, the angrier he gets.

Answer Key for Practice Exercise

Q 1.

  1. the best
  2. the wettest
  3. more real than
  4. the furthest/ farthest
  5. fatter/ bigger than
  6. tidier than
  7. looser
  8. the worst
  9. drier
  10. the biggest
  11. the (most) keen/ keenest
  12. the prettier/ prettiest
  13. more wrong
  14. the most scared
  15. more bored

Q 2.

  1. D
  2. G
  3. A
  4. E
  5. B
  6. F
  7. C

Q 3.

  1. B
  2. A
  3. A
  4. B
  5. B
  6. B
  7. A
  8. A
  9. B
  10. B

Q 4.

  1. The lecture was so boring that I fell asleep.
  2. It was such a well-publicized concert that the tickets sold out within days.
  3. The wording of the document is so complicated as to be incomprehensible.
  4. It was too dark to find my contact lens.
  5. It wasn’t as interesting an exhibition as my friends had claimed.
  6. She’s more disappointed than angry.
  7. Approaching the church, we noticed the sound of the bells becoming louder and louder and louder.
  8. The older dogs get, the less aggressive they become.
  9. My son isn’t old enough to get a place at kindergarten.
  10. Their remarks were not so much insulting as inaccurate.

Q 5.

  1. G- She smokes like a chimney.
  2. D- He’s like a bull in a china shop.
  3. F- I slept like a log last night.
  4. L- It’s as cold as ice in here.
  5. C- She’s like a lamb to the slaughter.
  6. J- She’s as fit as a fiddle.
  7. N- You’re as white as a sheet.
  8. A- He’s like a cat on a hot tin roof.
  9. E- She’s like a bear with a sore head this morning.
  10. H- Our car goes like a rocket.
  11. B- My new flatmate swears like a trooper.
  12. M- Once the lights went out it was as quiet as the grave.
  13. K- She doesn’t need to diet, she’s as light as a feather.
  14. O- The old man is as stubborn as a mule.
  15. I- These new mobile phones are selling like hotcakes.

Q 6.

  1. best/ top
  2. most
  3. no
  4. than
  5. more
  6. enough
  7. cheapest
  8. as
  9. as
  10. just/ almost/ about
  11. to
  12. too
  13. best
  14. like
  15. so
  16. by
  17. such
  18. the
  19. more
  20. as

Hopefully, the information in this article and the advanced practice exercises for degrees of comparison has helped you understand the use of advanced comparative structures. The use of advanced comparative structures in your answers will increase their quality and thereby fetch you a higher band score. There are several other advanced exercises for degrees of comparison available both online and offline that you should practise from to increase your knowledge on advanced comparative structures.