Usage Notes on Adjectives and Adverbs as Modifiers – Part 1- Verbal with Sujit

Adjectives and Adverbs are the words that describe or modify a sentence. Hence they are known as modifiers. An adjective modifies a noun, cannot do any other work. An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs often describe when, where,why or the circumstances of something.


1) Stupider or more stupid? Commonest or most common?

When you form the comparative or superlative remember this:

a) Adjective + er/est (quicker/quickest) is used if the adjective has one syllable only.

b) More/Most + Adjective as well as Adjective + er/est (stupider/stupidest as well as more/most stupid) is used for adjectives with two syllables.

c) More/Most + Adjective is used for adjectives (more/most beautiful) with two or ore syllables.

If you are in doubt about the number of syllables in a word, look it up in a dictionary.

eg. com-pli-men-ta-ry has five syllables.

Positive Comparative Superlative No.of syllables
Cute Cuter Cutest One
Lucky Luckier/More lucky Luckiest/Most luckiest Two*
Beautiful More beautiful Most beautiful More than two syllables.

*There are, however , two syllable words that cannot take ‘er’ and ‘est’. (eg. complex).

2) More worse or worse? Less or lesser?

Positive Comparative Superlative
little less/lesser/littler least/littlest
much more most
many more most
far further/farther furthest/farthest

Double comparisons like ‘more worse’ or ‘more better’ and double superlatives ‘the most happiest’ or ‘the most heaviest’ are redundant and incorrect.

3) Less and Lesser.

Less and Lesser are often synonymous. However, less suggests amount, lesser suggests degree.

Less is also used in the non-comparative sense (that is, the positive degree) in the sentences like, ” Not that I loved Caesar the less. ”

This use is different form the common expressions like, the lesser of the two evils, or I have less money than he has.

Correct: She has less money.

Incorrect: This is the less of the two evils.

Correct: This is the lesser of the two evils.

Correct: We have less money than they have.

Correct: We have lesser (amount of money) than they have.

Correct: We are less studious than they are.

Incorrect: We are lesser studious than they are.


1) less can be used in the comparative form with an adjective, while lesser as a comparative form is used with a noun.

2) lesser as an adjective is preceeded by an article ( the lesser evil, a lesser person)

3)less can be an adjective (less time, less money).

4) less can be an adverb. (it costs less)

4) She eats too less or She eats too little?

Incorrect: She eats too less.

Correct: She eats too little.

Correct: She eats little or She eats very little.

NOTE: The word ‘too’ cannot take a comparative after that. 

This excerpt has been reproduced from the book “The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability for the CAT and other MBA Entrance Examinations” by Sujit Kumar  published by Dorling Kindersley India Pvt Ltd, licensees of Pearson Education in South Asia. The content has been reproduced with permission from the author.


The author has a vast experience in training students appearing for various competitive exams. He has been preparing candidates for Verbal Ability, Group Discussion and Personal Interview for more than a decade. Apart from holding a diploma in management and corporate experience of more than 10 years, the author holds a masters degree in English Literature. He is currently working with CPLC,Mumbai as a Faculty and a part of the senior management.

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