Degrees of Comparison pertain to the extent (in correlation) of a particular quality existing in the nouns which are being compared.
In the above definition, ‘quality’ refers to any qualitative adjective, that can exist in three different measures or levels in nouns. These three degrees make the nouns possessing the same quality, or being qualified by the same adjective, comparable with one another.
- Mr Dickens is a wealthy man.
- Mr Oliver is wealthier than Mr Dickens.
- Mr Orwell is the wealthiest of the three.
In sentence 1, Mr Dickens is wealthy in his own capacity and he is not compared with any other wealthy man.
In sentence 2, a comparison is drawn between Mr Oliver and Mr Dickens as both of them are wealthy but to varying degrees.
In the case of sentence 3, a comparison is drawn among more than two persons (Mr Dickens, Mr Oliver, and Mr Orwell). It can be concluded that the adjective ‘wealthy’ exists in three different measures or degrees.
In the light of the above discussion, we can state that there are three degrees of comparison:
1. Positive Degree
A positive degree is used to show the normal or positive quantum of an adjective without any comparison.
2. Comparative Degree
A comparative degree is used to show a comparison between two persons or things possessing the same quality.
3. Superlative Degree
A superlative degree is used to draw a comparison among more than two persons or things possessing the same quality.
Remember: The concept of degrees of comparison also applies to adverbs.