How to make comparisons in English

If you have moved to an English-speaking country or even just visited one, you’ll often find that people ask you about your impressions. A really nice way to talk about those impressions is to make comparisons with what you expected before you arrived in the country.
For example, my students often expect England to be rainy and unfriendly with a lot of tea-drinkers and football hooligans πŸ˜‰ They are surprised to find that is not the case…. well, most of the time!
How can they describe those opinions? By using comparatives. Have a look at the language below then try to make your own ‘Real English’ examples!

So what do you think of England then?
Well, it’s colder than I’d expected
Buckingham palace is not as big as I thought it would be
The people are friendlier than I’d imagined
London is not as impressive as I’d expected
The food is not as bad as I’d heard!
The sea is even more beautiful than I’d imagined
Public transport is more expensive that I thought it would be

What do you think? Nice natural sentences for giving your opinions, aren’t they? We’ll do a little re-cap on making comparative adjectives in a moment. But first, I’d like to focus on the sentence endings and the pattern:

comparative adjective + than

not as + adjective + as

+ I’d expected
+ I’d heard
+ I’d imagined
+ I thought it would be

You can use that pattern above to talk about any of your impressions and it’ll make your English sound fantastic! By the way, I’d is a contraction for I had. This is known as past perfect for any grammar geeks out there πŸ˜‰ but the beauty of language patterns is you don’t need to remember or worry about the grammar, you just need to memorise these 4 fixed sentence endings! That’s all, easy hey?!

So I promised you a little ‘comparative adjectives’ re-cap, in case you are a bit rusty or this is the first time you have heard about comparatives. There is a basic rule to make them. There are a couple of exceptions but we’ll keep it simple today.

short adjectives
add ER
tall, cheap, small, cold cheaper, colder, etc
long adjectives
add MORE or LESS
expensive, impressive more expensive, etc
adjectives ending in Y
remove Y and add IER
busy, funny, friendly busier, friendlier, etc

Ok, now it’s your turn! Think about the last time you arrived somewhere and found it was different to your expectations…..Was it colder or less expensive than you’d imagined? Were the people friendlier than you’d expected? Try making your own sentences to describe your impressions. If you like, you can post them in my comments (scroll down to the bottom) and I’ll let you know if they sound natural πŸ™‚ Good luck!

Today’s blog focused on making comparisons and talking about expectations but there are lots of other real-life situations you can learn English for. Click here to find more everyday English language.

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

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