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I was going through the topic "formation of comparative and superlative".

The rule says

When two objects are compared with each other, the latter term of comparison must exclude the former, as in "Iron is more useful than any other metal". If we say "Iron is more useful than any metal", that is the same thing as saying "Iron is more useful than iron", since iron is itself a metal.

I am finding difficulty to relate the rule with example.

  • I would forget that rule. I have never heard of it. Study a website with comparative forms to see how comparative forms are used. eflnet.com/tutorials/adjcompsup.php – rogermue Mar 20 '16 at 8:33
  • I disagree, @rogermue, The tutorial that you refer to is certainly a useful guide for how to form a comparative or superlative, but it doesn't give a complete set of examples of how to use them. In particular, it contains examples for using a superlative in a "one of a group" situation "Mary is the tallest of all the students" but it does not describe how to use a comparative for that situation. "Mary is taller than all the students" is only valid if Mary is not a student. You have to say "Mary is taller than all the other students if Mary is one of the students. – JavaLatte Mar 20 '16 at 14:24
  • I think there are enough comparatives given so that a learner can see how they are used. – rogermue Mar 20 '16 at 14:29
  • @rogermue I agree that there are enough comparatives, but there are no examples that show how to use comparatives in a "one of a group" situation, and that's what the question is about. – JavaLatte Mar 20 '16 at 15:01
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Let's start off with a question. Can you be taller than yourself? Of course not. Remember that: it's important.

Imagine a teacher with her class of small children. the teacher can say

I am taller than everyone in the class

but one of the students would say

I am taller than everyone else in the class

The difference is that the teacher is not part of the class. If I am one of the students, I am part of the class. Remember, I can't be taller than myself, so I have to say that I am taller than everyone in the class except me.

Take the same example, but express it in a different way. The teacher can say

I am taller than all of the students

But the student would say

I am taller than all of the other students

Other is working in the same way as else: The student is saying that he is taller then everybody except himself, because he can't be taller than himself.

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That's right. Many learners including me myself share your problem which usually goes back to their native language in which they don't have such a rule. ☺

I think if you get the definitions, you'll get it all.

When you use 'other' (in your example) you mean 'people or things except for the people or things already meantioned' and 'any' (in your example) means 'it doesn't matter which'.

Let me put these in an example.

John and his classmates are all in class lining up to see who's the tallest. Well it turns out that John is the tallest.

One says,

"John is taller than any other boy in here"

what he means is it doesn't matter which boy you choose among the group of boys that John is NOT one of them to compare with John, if you put him next to John, John would look taller.

Let's see what happens if you say this sentence,

"John is taller than any boy"

well it means it doesn't matter which boy you choose among the group of boys that John IS one of them to compare with John, if you put him next to John, John would look taller.

We know that John is a boy so logically when you say 'any boy' you mean John, too, because any means 'it doesn't matter which'. So the sentence says you can pick John and compare him to himself and still John would look taller! John can't be taller than himself. So you need to make two groups to use a comparative adjective.

Grouo 1 = John

Group 2 = any other boy (any boy except John)

The same explanation applies to your example.

One says,

Iron is more useful than any other metal.

If you choose any metal except for iron itself, you'll see that iron is more useful.

Let's see what happens if you say this sentence,

Iron is more useful than any metal.

If you choose any kind of metal including iron itself, you'll see iron is more useful even more useful than itself!

Sentence one is correct so is in my examples.

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