Comparative Adverbs

Italian comparative adverbs
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Avverbi comparativi

Comparative adverbs are used to compare the relative superiority or inferiority of two or more things. This superior lesson will keep you from getting an inferiority complex. 😉

There are three types of comparisons:

1) Superiority indicates that something is "___er" (bigger, faster, stronger) or "more ___" (more purple, more tired, more important). The Italian equivalent is più ___.

2) Inferiority indicates that something is "less ___" (less hungry, less exciting, less complete). The Italian equivalent is meno ___.

3) Equality indicates that two or more things are "as ___" (as happy, as thirsty, as interesting). The Italian equivalents are (così) ___ come and (tanto) ___ quanto.

The grammar involved in using comparative adverbs is slightly different depending on whether you’re dealing with equality or inequality and on what you’re comparing: adjectives, adverbs, nouns, or verbs.

Comparing Adjectives

The simplest comparisons are superiority or inferiority with adjectives: just put più or meno in front of the adjective. The comparative itself is invariable, but, as always, the adjective has to agree with its noun in gender and number.

1) Compare two nouns with one adjective

a) Inequality

Davide è più alto.   Davide is taller.
La tua macchina è meno rumorosa.   Your car is less noisy.

In the above examples, the comparison is implied – there’s some antecedent that these comparatives are referring back to. When there is no antecedent, you need the preposition di after the adjective, followed by the noun or pronoun you’re comparing the subject to.

Per esempio…

Davide è più alto di Marco.   Davide is taller than Marco.
La tua macchina è meno rumorosa della mia.   Your car is less noisy than mine.

b) Equality

With equality, the adjective comes first, followed by come or quanto.

Per esempio…

Questo libro è interessante come quello.   This book is as interesting as that one.
Sono felici quanto me.   They’re as happy as I am.

2) Compare two adjectives in relation to one noun

a) Inequality

Expressing inequality with two adjectives requires the construction più / meno + adjective1 + che + adjective2.

Per esempio…

È più imponente che spaventoso.   He’s more imposing than scary.
Sono meno coraggioso che curioso.   I’m less brave than (I am) curious.

b) Equality

For equality, you need the construction tanto/altrettanto/così + adjective1 + quanto + adjective2.

Per esempio…

Sei tanto intelligente quanto bella.   You’re as smart as (you are) beautiful.
La scuola può essere così divertente quanto utile.   School can be as fun as (it is) useful.

3) Compare an adjective over time

Sono meno stanco di ieri.   I’m less tired than (I was) yesterday.
È più ossessionato di prima.   He’s more obsessed than before.

 The adjectives buono and cattivo have special comparative forms: migliore and peggiore. More about this in a future lesson.

Comparing Adverbs

Comparing adverbs is much the same, but you don’t have to worry about agreement, since adverbs are invariable. Once again, there are three types of comparisons.

1) Compare two nouns with one adverb

Parla più lentamente di me.    He speaks more slowly than I (do).
Piange meno spesso di sua sorella.   She cries less often than her sister.
Lavoro duramente come te.   I work as hard as you do.

2) Compare two adverbs in relation to one subject/verb

Scrive più velocemente che correttamente.   You write more quickly than (you do) correctly.
Mangia tanto sano quanto abbondantemente.   He eats as healthily as (he does) copiously.

3) Compare an adverb over time

Sto correndo più lentamente di ieri.   I’m running more slowly than (I was) yesterday.
Studia meno spesso di prima.   She studies less often than before.

Comparing Nouns

When comparing the quantity of nouns, the comparative adverbs are somewhat different.

1) Compare a noun between two subjects

  • Superiority = più … di
  • Inferiority = meno … di
  • Equality = tanto … quanto

Per esempio…

Ho più idee di te.   I have more ideas than you.
Tu fai meno errori di me.   You make fewer errors than I (do).
Ha scritto tanti libri quanto suo padre.   She’s written as many books as her father.

2) Compare two (or more) nouns for one subject or verb

  • Superiority = più … che
  • Inferiority = meno … che

Per esempio…

Ci sono meno mele che arance.   There are fewer apples than oranges.
Ho più idee che tempo o energia.   I have more ideas than time or energy.

Comparing Verbs

When comparing verbs, the comparative adverbs are slightly different again.

1) Compare a verb between two subjects

  • Superiority = più di
  • Inferiority = meno di
  • Equality = quanto

Per esempio…

Lavoro più di mia sorella.   I work more than my sister (does).
Lui studia meno di te.   He studies less than you.
Mangiamo quanto i nostri figli.   We eat as much as our children.

2) Compare two verbs

  • Superiority = più di quanto
  • Inferiority = meno di quanto
  • Equality = tanto quanto

Per esempio…

Leggo più di quanto guardo la TV.   I read more than I watch TV.
Anne canta tanto quanto parla.   Anne sings as much as she speaks.

3) Compare a verb over time

  • Superiority = più di
  • Inferiority = meno di
Ora lavoro più dell’anno scorso.   I work more now than last year.
Studia meno di prima.   She studies less than before.

 You can add emphasis to a comparison with ancora.

Per esempio…

Questo albero è ancora più grande.   This tree is even taller.
Studia ancora meno di prima.   She studies even less than before.

 Related lessons

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Avverbi comparativi

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