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Comparative and Superlative Forms

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The similarity of certain grammar structures such as conditional forms, linking language, etc. lend themselves to teaching in larger chunks, rather than focusing on one form at a time. This is also true of the comparative and superlative forms. Introducing both the comparative and the superlative simultaneously students can begin speaking about a wide variety of subjects in a more natural form that makes more sense contextually.

The correct use of the comparative and superlative forms is a key ingredient when students are learning how to express their opinion or make comparative judgments. The following lesson focuses on first building understanding of the structure - and of the similarity between the two forms - inductively, as most students are at least passively familiar with the forms. The second phase of the lesson, focuses on using the comparative and superlative forms actively in small group conversation.

Aim: Learning the comparative and superlative

Activity: Inductive grammar learning exercise followed by small group discussion

Level: Pre-intermediate to intermediate

Outline:

  • Activate students' awareness of the comparative and superlative by comparing three objects of your choice. For example, compare life in the US, the country where you are teaching and another country of your choice.
  • Ask students questions based on what you have told them.
  • Have students pair up and ask them to complete the first exercise on the work sheet.
  • Based on their completion of the first task, ask students to give you the rules for the construction of the comparative form. You will probably have to point out that a three letter word following the CVC (consonant - vowel - consonant) form will double the final consonant. Example: big - bigger
  • Have students complete the second exercise on the work sheet.
  • Based on their completion of the second task, ask students to give you the rules for the construction of the superlative form. Make sure that students are aware of the similarities in construction between the two forms.
  • Have students get into small groups of three to four and choose one of the topic headings for their group.
  • Ask groups to then decide on three objects in the topic area to compare and contrast verbally.
  • Have students write five to ten sentences based on their conversation using the comparative and superlative forms. It might be useful to ask them to write a specific amount of both comparative and superlative sentences.
Comparatives and Superlatives

Exercise 1: Read the sentences below and then give the comparative form for each of the adjectives listed.

  • Tennis is a more difficult sport than Rugby.
  • I think John is happier now than a year ago.
  • Could you open the window, please? It's getting hotter in this room by the minute.
  • interesting ___________
  • weak ___________
  • funny ___________
  • important ___________
  • careful ___________
  • big ___________
  • small ___________
  • polluted ___________
  • boring ___________
  • angry ___________

Exercise 2: Read the sentences below and then give the superlative form for each of the adjectives listed.

  • New York has got to be the most exciting city in the world.
  • His biggest desire is to return home.
  • She is probably the angriest person I know.
  • interesting ___________
  • weak ___________
  • funny ___________
  • important ___________
  • careful ___________
  • big ___________
  • small ___________
  • polluted ___________
  • boring ___________
  • angry ___________

Exercise three: Choose one of the topics below and think of three examples from that topic - for example: Sports - football, basketball and surfing. Compare the three objects.

  • Cities
  • Sports
  • Writers
  • Films
  • Inventions
  • Cars

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