As I'm getting familiar with English grammar, I'm facing a few doubts. The word more is a comparative form of much (for non-countable nouns) and many (with countable nouns). However, I can use more with sentences which don't have comparisons. e.g.,

As business grows more complex, I'm unable to handle it.

How would you explain this usage of more. Can this work as an adjective as well without having comparisons? Or the usage of than is implied. e.g.

As business grows more complex [than did in past], I'm unable to handle it.

  • 4
    "Please, sir," replied Oliver, "I want some more." — Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens Feb 24, 2020 at 17:55
  • @IanMacDonald I think it is fair to say that there is an implicit than-clause in every comparative: "Please, sir," replied Oliver, "I want some more [than this]."
    – j4nd3r53n
    Feb 25, 2020 at 9:16
  • 1
    @j4nd3r53n: Is there? Or is it " I want some more [of this]" ?
    – MSalters
    Feb 25, 2020 at 11:05
  • "We need more power!" - this implies that the existing level of power is not sufficient.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 25, 2020 at 12:30
  • @MSalters I think it’s actually of that. Oliver had finished his food. Feb 25, 2020 at 13:11

5 Answers 5


The comparative, whether formed with more or with -er, doesn't need a than-clause to function.

For example, all of the following sentences are valid uses of the comparative:

John grew smarter.

Felicia became more adept at her work.

As business grows more complex, I have trouble handling it.

In the first example, the suffix -er marks the comparative. In the second and third examples, more functions as an adverb to mark the comparative of that adjective. (See Cambridge Dictionary for information on these forms.)

All of these examples are comprehensible on their own. Without a comparative, listeners or readers will understand it based on context. This is known as a null comparative (ODLT).

The than-clause (or, more generally, a comparative clause [ThoughtCo]) is optional. It can be used to clarify or emphasize what is being compared:

John grew smarter than he was before.

John grew smarter than Jody.

Felicia became more adept than she ever was before at her work.

As business grows more complex than it had been, I have trouble handling it.

  • Hi @TaliesinMerlin,, some where I found sentence like more than enough money, is this perfect to write or need some corrections ?
    – Rajesh S
    Feb 25, 2020 at 11:26
  • I have finished my mashed potatoes, can I have more mashed potatoes? Please?
    – jmoreno
    Feb 25, 2020 at 11:55
  • @RajeshS - "more than enough money" is correct and normal. For instance, "I have more than enough money to buy the sandwich." means that I can buy the sandwich and still have money left afterward. Feb 25, 2020 at 12:19

Yes, you can use more in sentences without a comparison, as long as a "comparator" can be recovered by context or inference. So, also yes, what is being compared is implied.

This is true for all comparative adjectives, not just those that require more to make the comparative form. These example adjectives each follow a different rule for comparative formation: tall --> taller, happy --> happier, good --> better, complex --> more complex.

Here are some examples with [elliptical] (omitted) comparisons:

Math is hard. But English is harder [than Math].

I used to be very sad. Now I am happier [than I used to be].

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger [than you were before you survived death].

Did you try their new restaurant? It's much better [than their old restaurant].

In the past business was simple. As business grows more complex [than it was in the past], I'm unable to handle it.

I think you can see that it's usually stylistically better to let context do the work [than to explicitly restate what can be inferred].

Further reading: Comparative Adjectives


clausal comparisons:

As business grows more complex [than did in past], I'm unable to handle it.

correction: As business grows more complex than it was in the past, I'm unable to handle it.

As questions become more repetitive than they were in the past, my patience wears thing.

the comparison "than it was in the past" applies to the entire clause.

  • The sun felt hotter today than it did yesterday.
  • The child seems happier than he was last week.


More (adv.) c. Modifying an adjective or adverb to form the comparative.

More (adv.) = To a greater extent; increasingly. Increasingly implies an increase of those circumstance (or quantity) that were the case.

As business grows more …..complex,


…………………[adverbial phrase]


More complex is the comparative of complex ("complexer" is non-standard.)

  • but if "complexer" is non standard then also "business" should be compared with something else, right?
    – Ajay Gaur
    Feb 24, 2020 at 15:18
  • As in, a comparative degree should be used when you're comparing 2 things.
    – Ajay Gaur
    Feb 24, 2020 at 15:22
  • It means what you said in your question - more complex than it was in the past. Feb 24, 2020 at 16:21
  • Tell me more!! I want more!!
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 24, 2020 at 17:16

If you use a dictionary, you will see there are multiple definitions for "more".

Without the conjunction "than", which introduces the second element in a comparison, "more" can simply mean "additional".

For example:

Can I have more coffee?

This is understood to mean you have had some coffee, and are now having additional coffee. There is no comparison between the previous amount and the second helping.

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