Funny things about England – comparative adjectives

Learn how to form English comparative adjectives:
One syllable: add -er
Two syllables: add -er or put ‘more’ in front
Three syllables or more: put ‘more’ in front
You’ll also learn:
– spelling rules for comparative adjectives
– how to add emphasis with ‘much’
– irregular forms of adjectives
– how to use double comparatives to describe changes
– common mistakes with comparatives
We’ll show lots of examples of comparative adjectives and you’ll learn some funny things about England as well.

Hi, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
We live in Philadelphia in the US and we’re just back from a holiday in England.
England is a strange country and I’m going to show you some of the surprising things I saw.
And you’ll learn how we both use comparative adjectives along the way, and some common mistakes to avoid.
So what surprises you about England?
Well first, the size of things. A lot of things are smaller. The cars, the refrigerators, the food packages in the supermarket….
It’s a smaller country than the US. We have less space so we’re more crowded.
The streets are narrower and I had to be more careful when I was crossing the street because you drive on the wrong side.
Not the wrong side. We just drive on the left-hand side of the road.
So the cars are coming at you from the right. If you look left before crossing a street, you could get hurt.
I had to make Jay hold my hand like a child to get him across the road.
It’s dangerous!
OK. What else surprised you?
The age of some of the buildings. We stayed in a hotel that dated back to the 16th century – that’s older than anywhere I’ve stayed before.
It was an old coaching inn, so in the past, coaches with horses stopped there to rest. But these days it’s a pub.
And it’s also a hotel but it’s not like the Holiday Inn or Hilton. It didn’t even have a front desk.
When we arrived we just went to the bar to say ‘hey, we’re here’ and it was nice because they gave me a big glass of wine.
That was because they were looking for our reservation. They didn’t seem to know who we were. And that was after I’d made the made the reservation twice!
I think they lost it the first time. But our room was very pretty.
It was more chaotic than a Holiday Inn – less organized.
But it was more fun than a Holiday Inn. The people were very nice.
The service was great – polite but very personal and friendly.
Would you stay there again?
Oh yeah, I loved it.
OK, let’s look at some grammar.
We use comparative adjectives to compare two things and we form them in two different ways. With one syllable adjectives we normally add -er. So small becomes smaller. Old becomes older and so on. An exception is the word fun. When we use ‘fun’ as an adjective we say ‘more fun.’
With adjectives with three syllables or more, we make comparatives differently. We don’t add -er. We put ‘more’ in front instead. So chaotic becomes ‘more chaotic’. Notice we can also use the word ‘less’ in a similar way. It means the opposite of ‘more’.
So one syllable adjectives – add -er, and three syllable adjectives use ‘more’ or ‘less’. But what about two syllable adjectives? That’s more complicated.
With a lot of two syllable adjectives we use ‘more’. So careful, more careful, crowded, more crowded.
But there are some two syllable adjectives where we normally add -er. For example, narrow. We often say narrower.
And with many two syllable adjectives we can use ‘-er’ OR ‘more’. You’ll hear us say both forms. Friendlier or more friendly. Both forms work.
Here’s another funny thing about the UK. Every home has an electric kettle.
Of course! One of the first things I bought when I moved to the US was an electric kettle, but it was a mistake because it takes ages to boil the water here. Electric kettles are really slow in the US.
Well, our electricity is 120 volts.
It’s 240 volts in the UK so it’s quicker.
But you have a strange relationship with electricity in England. When you go into a bathroom, there’s no light switch.
There is a switch but it’s outside the room, or the switch hangs from the ceiling and you pull a chord to turn the light on.
So you have to grope around in the dark to find the switch.
But it’s safer because you could have wet hands. And you don’t want to mix water with electricity.
And there are no electric sockets in the bathroom so you have to go to a different room to use your hair drier.
It’s safer that way!
Also, English sockets have switches on them. So you plug something into an outlet and it doesn’t work and then you discover you need to turn the switch on.
I think our plugs are better than American ones. They’re bigger and they always have three pins.
Our pins are thinner and sometimes there are just two.
And sometimes your pins bend. English plugs are sturdier.
OK, but what is it with English faucets?
You mean our taps.
They have two controls.
Yeah, one for hot water and one for cold.
So you can’t just turn one handle. You have to turn two. American faucets are easier to operate.
I think there’s a good reason for that, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe one of you can tell me.
There was something I really liked though.
What was that?
The heated towel rail.
They’re lovely. They’re electric and they dry the towels, heat the bathroom and it’s nicer to dry yourself with a warm towel.
I agree.
There are some spelling rules for comparative adjectives that you need to know. If a one syllable adjective ends in e, we just add r. So not -er, just r.
Also there are some one syllable adjectives that end with one vowel and one consonant. With those you have to double the consonant. So for example, it doesn’t happen in the words sweeter or longer.
Another one. With two syllable adjectives that end in the letter -y, we always add -er. But we change the y to an i.
And one more thing that’s very important. There are some irregular adjectives. The most common ones are good and bad. For good we say better. So it’s not gooder. It’s better. And for bad, it’s not badder. We say worse. Far is another one. We say farther or further.
Another thing that was very interesting was the elevators.
So the confusing thing is I want to go to the first floor, but there’s also a ground floor, and that doesn’t exist in America. This should be two, right?
We have a different system for numbering the floors in a building.
It should be very easy. The ground floor is the first floor and the next floor is the second floor.
But for us, the next floor can be the first floor.
We’re much more logical in the US.
We’re logical too, but the ground floor can be zero. It’s a different logic.
And speaking of elevators, which you call lifts…?
Yeah, lifts or elevators.
Another thing that surprised me was elevators in the London subways.
He means the Underground – or Tube.
The Tube was like the New York or Philadelphia subway, but a lot cleaner and quieter, and the escalators were really long.
The trains are far deeper underground than in the States.
Way deeper. When we were at Covent Garden, we had a choice, the stairs or the elevator.
But then we heard there were 193 steps
That’s about 16 stories! We chose the elevator!
Sometimes you’ll want to add emphasis when you’re making comparisons. With a normal adjective you could say ‘very’ – very easy, very interesting.
But with comparative adjectives it’s different. We use the word much, so much easier, much more interesting. We can also say ‘far’, ’a lot’, and if you’re speaking informally, ‘way’. And if you want to minimize the difference, you can say ‘a little’.
I love the signs in England. It’s funny to see signs saying ‘toilets’ everywhere.
So if you wanted to find a toilet what would you say?
‘Where’s the restroom?’ or ‘Where’s the men’s room?’
I’d say ‘Where’s the toilet’?
You’re more direct than me.
It’s just what we say.
And we went to the theater and our seats were in the ‘stalls’.
Yeah, we sat downstairs in front of the stage – the stalls.
We call that part of the theater the orchestra.
We have an orchestra pit in English theatres and but it’s literally where the orchestra sits. The audience sits in front in the stalls.
For me stalls are the partitions in a restroom that separate the toilets.
Stalls has that meaning for us too. But now you’ve learnt a new meaning of the word.
My English is getting better and better. But stalls don’t sound like good theater seats to me.
Your favourite sign was at Heathrow Airport.
Oh yeah.

If your flight is departing from B or C gates, please board the next available train from either platform. The first stop will be for all B gates and the second stop will be for all C gates.

The tech is getting more and more advanced.
Her eyes seemed to follow me as I moved around. But the funniest signs were in the subways – the exit signs that tell you how to get out.
You loved them.
Yeah. They made me think of hippies in the 1960s. When something was cool they’d say it was ‘far out’ or ‘way out’.

It’s far out man! Way out there!

Here’s a cool structure you can use to make comparisons. You double up and use two comparatives in one sentence. We often do this to say things are changing.
Let’s finish with the most common mistakes students make with comparatives.
We use the word ‘than’ after the comparative adjective when we want to show what we’re comparing something with. Sometimes students say ‘as’ here. But that’s wrong.
Also, notice the word ‘me’ in this sentence. We don’t say I. We use the object form of the personal pronoun so – than me, than him, than her, than us, than them
And the other common mistake is to use -er when you should say more and vice versa. Remember short adjectives: add -er. Long ones: use more. And finally, sometimes students use both -er and more and that doesn’t work either.
And that’s it for comparatives! I just have one final question. Did you like England Jay?
Oh yeah, the more I go there, the more I like it.
We also went to Spain on holiday and we’re going to make another video about that.
So make sure you subscribe to our channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss it. Bye-bye everyone.
Bye.

 

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