1 Little, a little, the little ( tells about quantity)
- Little: hardly any/ practically no ( negative meaning)
Eg: There is little water in the Jar.
- A little: some ( positive meaning)
Eg: A little inspiration can make him confident
- The little: small quantity ( relatively smaller than a little) ( positive meaning)
Eg: We can spend the little money for entertainment.
2 Few, a few, the few ( tells about number)
- Few: hardly or practically none ( negative meaning)
Eg: Few people attended the party.
- A few: a small number ( positive meaning)
Eg: Only a few students got the answers.
- The few: very small number ( positive meaning)
Eg: The few people who held strike were dismissed by the management
3 First, foremost
- First: first in order.
Eg: Abraham Lincoln is the first president of America.
- Foremost: leading or most eminent.
Eg: Shakespeare is still the foremost literary figure in the world of English literature.
4 Elder, eldest, older, oldest
- Elder and eldest : used only of persons belonging to same family. And also, not used of animals or inanimate things.
* Elder is followed only by ‘to’, not ‘than’
Eg: Mary is elder to her sister Merlin.
- Older and oldest: used only of persons not belonging to same family. And also used of animals
and inanimate things.
* Older is followed by than.
Eg: My assistant is older than me
This is the oldest temple in this village.
5 Nearest, next
- Nearest: denoting nearness in space.
Eg: Which is the nearest Airport here?
- Next : denoting position or order.
Eg: Who is standing next to Mathew?
6 Farther, further
- Farther: denoting
Eg: They plan to buy a house, a little farther from here
- Further: tells about additional or beyond what exists now.
Eg: He is waiting for a further confirmation.
7 Later, latest, latter, last.
- Later and Latest: denoting time.
Eg: He may call you later.
This is the latest edition of this book.
- Latter and last: denoting order or position.
Eg: Mathew and Jacob attended the test. But the latter failed.
*Here, the latter means the second person Jacob.
*To mention the first person Mathew, the word former is to be used.
*So former is used for the first and latter for the second.
eg: The boy sitting in the last bench is the winner in the test.
8 Many, many a, a great many
- Many : meaning numerous and refers to number. (* Much refers to quantity)
Eg: Martin has so many restaurants in Switzerland.
- Many a : giving emphasis on individual’s experience and says that there are many like him or
her experienced it. ‘Many a’ is singular in form but plural in meaning.
It is followed by a singular noun and verb.
Eg: Many a man has once felt isolation in his life.
- A great many : meaning a large number.
Eg: A great many friends attended John’s birthday function.
9 Outermost, uttermost, utmost, utter.
- Outermost : farther from the centre.
Eg: The students climbed over the outermost area of the mountain.
- Uttermost : the most distant or
Eg: He lives in the uttermost part of the forest.
- Utmost : extreme, in the highest degree.
Eg: He expressed his utmost desire to participate the meeting.
- Utter : comparative in form but superlative in meaning. ( ‘complete’ or ‘unqualified’)
* used in negative sense
Eg: Thomas had faced an utter failure in the election.
10 Less, lesser
- Less : Positive in form but comparative in meaning. It is followed by ‘than’.
( smaller in size, measurement, duration, number, etc.)
Eg: The expense is less than what we expected.
- Lesser : a double comparative but never followed by than. ( not so great as the other one)
Eg: He is the lesser of the two villains.
Some comparative adjectives derived from Latin which are followed by ‘to’, not ‘than’
- Inferior :
Eg: John is inferior to Samuel.
- Superior :
Eg: My friend is superior to me.
- Junior :
Eg: Mr. Mathew is junior to Martin.
- Senior :
Eg: George is senior to Jacob.
- Prior :
Eg : We visited him prior to our journey to Singapore.
Some Latin comparatives now used as Positive adjectives are listed below.
- ‘Interior’, ‘Exterior’, ‘Major’, ‘Minor’, ‘Ulterior’, ‘Posterior’, ‘Anterior’.