How to teach comparative adjectives to kids learning English?
Below are a few useful teaching points and ideas taken from our free Comparative Adjectives lesson plan.
What are comparative adjectives?
A comparative adjective compares differences between two nouns. For example, “The blue car is faster than the red car”.
Comparatives take the following forms:
- the adj+er: in most cases, adjectives with 1 or 2 syllables take the “er” form (e.g. fast – faster / heavy – heavier)
- the more + adj: in most cases, adjectives with 3 or more syllables take the “more ~” form (e.g. expensive – more expensive / beautiful – more beautiful)
- there are a few exceptions to the above rule (e.g. modern – more modern)
- irregular forms: “good” and “bad” take the irregular forms “better” / “worse”
Teaching points / tips
1. Before teaching comparatives, make sure students are familiar with adjectives.
2. Draw two people on the board (or use magazine cuts outs) – one should be tall and the other small. Under the shorter of the two, write “short”. Point to the second person and teach/elicit “tall – taller” and write that under the picture, underlining the “er” part (taller).
Do this for a couple more ~er adjectives (e.g. short – shorter; long – longer; etc.).
Next, draw or place two “expensive” object pictures on the board (e.g. watches). Write “expensive” under one and then ask what should be written under the other. You will probably get the answer “expensiver” – here teach the other and write form (more expensive).
Then, do another more + adj on the board.
3. Introduce more adjectives and have students write them down with their comparative forms.
4. Students test each other on comparatives -Place students in pairs. Student A looks at his/her adjectives/comparatives list (they made in point 3) and Student B turns over his/her list. A starts by giving a short sentence with the adjective and B says the comparative form, for example:
Student A: An old book.
Student B: An older book.
Student A: A beautiful bird.
Student B: A more beautiful bird.
Pairs change roles after completing the test.
Finally, have all students stand up. Say an adjective to each student and ask them to change your adjective example into a comparative. They can sit down if they give the correct answer. For example:
Teacher: David, a cheap car.
David: A cheaper car.
Teacher: Good job! You can sit down.
5. Play “Let’s compare things around us” – put students into pairs. Start by modeling the activity with a student. Walk around the class and point to something – say a short sentence using an adjective, such as “A cheap pencil case”. Your partner then needs to find another pencil case in the class which s/he can compare it to, for example:
Teacher: (pointing) A cheap pencil case.
Student (pointing) A cheaper pencil case.
Student (pointing) A more expensive pencil case.
Then have pairs walk around the room making comparisons.
Why not try adding these to your lesson from our website?
- download our practice worksheet “Adjectives & Comparatives Pictures“.
- download our homework worksheet “Compare things at home“.
- download our comparatives-themed classroom reader “Ben the Wizard“.
Full Lesson Plan
Download and print our full Comparative Adjectives lesson plan from our lesson plans page.
Includes 2 worksheets, adjective word cards and a classroom reader.