Comparison

Adjectives

Comparative Constructions

Just like in English, some adjectives are comparable and can have a comparative form, and some are non-comparable, meaning you can say быстрее | faster but you can't say, for example, более последний | more last. So there're two types of comparative forms in Russian: the simple one and the compound one. Let's start with the simple ones.

Simple Comparatives

Initial form Comparative Translation
у́мный умне́е smart
дли́нный длинне́е long
краси́вый краси́вее beautiful

As you can see, it's pretty easy. Just remove the ending (whichever ending it is) and add -ее. Besides, comparatives aren't declined, they are the same for every number, gender and case. Also, colloquially people may say and even write (especially in poetry) -ей instead of -ее and that's fine too.

If the stem of an adjective ends in г, к, х, д and ст, then add -е. Mutation of consonants will also occur. In certain words consonants may drop. These are the most common words from this group:

Initial form Comparative Translation
стро́гий стро́же strict
дорого́й доро́же expensive
то́нкий то́ньше thin
далёкий да́льше distant
высо́кий вы́ше tall
лёгкий ле́гче easy
мя́гкий мя́гче soft
сла́дкий сла́ще sweet
ни́зкий ни́же low
бли́зкий бли́же close
у́зкий у́же narrow
глубо́кий глу́бже deep
ре́дкий ре́же rare
широ́кий ши́ре wide
коро́ткий коро́че short
я́ркий я́рче bright
гро́мкий гро́мче loud
чёткий чётче clear
ти́хий ти́ше quiet
сухо́й су́ше dry
твёрдый твёрже solid
молодо́й моло́же young
бога́тый бога́че rich
то́лстый то́лще fat
чи́стый чи́ще clean
ча́стый ча́ще frequent
просто́й про́ще simple
круто́й кру́че cool
густо́й (лес) гу́ще dense (forest)

There are also some adjectives with irregular comparative forms:

Initial form Comparative Translation
ма́ленький ме́ньше small
большо́й бо́льше big
ста́рший (брат) ста́рше older, elder (brother)
мла́дший (брат) мла́дше younger (brother)
дешёвый деше́вле cheap
плохо́й ху́же bad
хоро́ший лу́чше good

Compound Comparatives

It takes two words to make a compound comparative: either более | more or менее | less plus an adjective in the necessary form (it is declined according to rules).

Initial form Comparative Translation
сло́жный бо́лее сло́жный
ме́нее сло́жный
more complex
less complex

Usage

First, let's look at some basic examples.

  • Эта работа интересная, но та работа интереснее. | This job is interesting, but that job is more interesting.
  • Эта задача сложнее, чем предыдущая. | This problem is more difficult than the previous one.

The comparative form of short adjectives are formed in the same way.

  • Сегодня весело, но вчера было веселее. | Today it's fun, but it was more fun yesterday.

Instead of чем we can also use the genitive case.

  • Эта задача сложнее предыдущей. | This problem is more difficult than the previous one.

So when do we use более? First, you may use it in the examples above instead of a simple comparative, but it won't sound as colloquial then.

  • Эта работа интересная, но та работа более интересная. | This job is interesting, but that job is more interesting.
  • Эта задача более сложная, чем предыдущая. | This problem is more difficult than the previous one.

You can't use the genitive case with the word более. This is incorrect:

  • Эта задача более сложная предыдущей. | This problem is more difficult than the previous one.

Such words as маленький, большой, плохой and хороший don't have a compound form, use the simple one instead: меньше, больше, хуже and лучше.

So as a predicative, both simple and compound comparatives can be used. However, in the nominative case as an attributive only compound comparatives can be used. Compare:

  • Эта задача сложнее (more common). = Эта задача более сложная. | This problem is more difficult.
  • Это более сложная задача. | This is a more difficult problem.

We also use the prefix по- with simple comparatives. It makes a statement less forceful or definite.

  • Эта задача сложнее. | This problem is more difficult.
  • Эта задача посложнее. | This problem is a little more difficult.
  • Эта книга интереснее той. | This book is more interesting than that one.
  • Эта книга поинтереснее той. | This book is more interesting than that one, ish.
  • Сегодня, конечно, весело. Но вчера было веселее. | Sure, it's fun today. But it was more fun yesterday.
  • Сегодня, конечно, весело. Но вчера было повеселее. | Sure, it's fun today. But it was kind of more fun yesterday.

In cases other than nominative, as attributives, we tend to use simple comparatives with the prefix по-.

  • Дай мне задачу посложнее. | Give me a more difficult problem. (any problem)
  • У тебя только эти фильмы? У тебя есть что-нибудь поинтереснее? | Are these the only movies that you have? Do you have anything more interesting? (anything)
  • Тебе до спортзала так долго добираться. Разве ты не мог найти спортзал поближе? | It takes you so long to get to the gym. Couldn't you find a closer one? (any closer)

We also use such adverbs as намного, гораздо | much, a lot, ещё | even (more) and немного | a little. Let's look at some examples:

  • Эта задача намного сложнее. | This problem is a lot more difficult.
  • Эта книга гораздо интереснее. | This book is a lot more interesting.
  • Это гораздо более серьёзная проблема, чем мы ожидали. | This problem is much more serious than we expected.
  • Наша квартира, конечно, была хорошая, но эта ещё лучше. | Sure, our appartment was good, but this one is even better.
  • Моя сестра немного выше меня. | My sister is a little taller than me.

Of course you don't need to and, in fact, cant't use the prefix по- when these adverbs are also used because these statements are quite certain and specified.

To compare something you may use either the word чем | than or the genitive case. Notice that we put a comma immediately before the word чем.

  • Новая модель гораздо мощнее, чем предыдущая. | The new model is much more powerful than the previous one.
  • Новая модель гораздо мощнее предыдущей. | The new model is much more powerful than the previous one.

We use такой же..., как... to say that things are equal in some way. Notice that we put a comma immediately before как. The praticle и immediately after как is technically optional and is very often used in colloquial speech.

  • Он такой же умный, как и его брат. | He is as smart as his brother.
  • Они такие же богатые, как и мы. | They are as rich as we are.

We use не такой..., как... to say that things aren't equal in some way.

  • Фильм оказался не таким интересным, как я ожидал. | The film turned out to be not as interesting as I expected it would be.
  • В жизни она не такая, как на фотографиях. | In real life, she is not like she is in the pictures.

We use столько же..., сколько ...when we want to make comparisons referring to quantity:

  • Я зарабатываю примерно столько же, сколько мой муж. | I earn about as much as my husband.
  • Ему дали столько же печенек, сколько другому ребёнку. | He was given as many cookies as the other child.

We use не (verb) столько..., сколько ...when we want to make a negative comparison referring to quantity:

  • Я не трачу столько, сколько мой муж. | I don't spend as much as my husband does.
  • Я трачу не столько, сколько мой муж. | I spend not as much as my husband does.

We use чем..., тем... to talk about relative comparison.

  • Чем меньше класс, тем эффективнее занятия. | The smaller the class is, the more effective lessons are.

Superlative Constructions

Simple Superlatives

Simple superlatives are declined in genders, numbers, and also cases. First, let's look at the formation.

Initial form Superlative Translation
masculine у́мный умне́йший smart
feminine у́мная умне́йшая smart
neuter у́мное умне́йшее smart
plural у́мные умне́йшие smart

If the stem of an adjective ends in г, к, х, we need to add the suffix -айш- instead of -ейш-. Mutation of consonants will also occur.

Initial form Superlative Translation
то́нкий тонча́йший thin
бли́зкий ближа́йший close

There are a few adjectives with irregular superlative forms.

Initial form Superlative Translation
хоро́ший лу́чший good
плох́ой ху́дший bad
ма́ленький ме́ньший small

Compound Superlatives

The first way to form a compound superlative is to add the word самый | the most which also is declined in genders, numbers and cases.

Superlative Translation
masculine са́мый у́мный челове́к the smartest person
feminine са́мая тру́дная зада́ча the most difficult problem
neuter са́мое ску́чное кино́ the most boring film
plural са́мые ни́зкие це́ны the lowest prices

Another way is to add the word наиболее | the most or наименее | the least. However, these are somewhat formal words that are usually used in official and written speech, not colloquially.

Superlative Translation
наибо́лее/наиме́нее эффекти́вный ме́тод the most/least effective method
наиб́олее/наиме́нее ва́жная информа́ция the most/least important information
наибо́лее/наиме́нее вы́годное положе́ние the most/least favorable position
наиб́лее/наиме́нее о́стрые пробле́мы the most/least acute problems

Usage

1. First, we may form either a simple or compound superlative.

  • Это самый дорогой телефон. | This is the most expensive phone.
  • Не подскажите, где здесь ближайший продуктовый магазин? Tell me please where is the closest grocery store around here?

Notice that most of the time we use compound superlatives. At the same time, some simple superlatives are quite common too. Here's the list:

  • Как получить высшее образование в России? | How to get a higher education in Russia?
  • Это худшее, что могло со мной случиться. | This is the worst thing that could happen to me.
  • Это один из лучших фильмов, которые я видел! | This is one of the best films I've ever seen!

Notice that the word один | one is declined in genders, numbers, and cases.

2. With the word весь we use the grammatical comparative form in the meaning of a superlative one.

  • Он умнее всех в классе. | He is smarter than anybody else in his class.
  • Хуже всего то, что мне теперь будет не устроиться на работу. | The worst thing is that I won't get hired anymore.

Adverbs

Comparative Constructions

Formation of adverb comparatives is the same as the formation of simple adjective comparatives ― just remove -о and add -ее (-ей).

Initial form Comparative Translation
бы́стро быстре́е fast
подро́бно подро́бнее in detail

There are some irregular ones.

Initial form Comparative Translation
по́здно по́зже late
ре́дко ре́же rarely
ра́но ра́ньше early

Usage

Let's look at some examples first.

  • Он бегает быстрее меня. = Он бегает быстрее, чем я. | He runs faster than me.
  • Обещаю, я буду учиться усерднее. | I promise I'll study harder.

Also notice the difference in meaning with and without the prefix по-. The explanations are given in the parentheses.

  • Я позвоню тебе попозже. | I'll call you later. (по- here makes the statement less definite)
  • Он пришёл позже меня. | He came later than me. (A fact)
  • Расскажи мне об этом поподробнее. | Tell me about it in more detail. (по- here makes the statement less definite)
  • Он рассказал об этом подробнее всех. | He told about it in more detail than everybody else. (A fact)

We use так же.., как... to say that things are equal in some way. Notice that we put a comma immediately before как. The particle и immediately after как is technically optional but is very often used in colloquial speech.

  • Я люблю тебя всё так же сильно, как и двадцать лет назад. | I still love you as much as I did twenty years ago.

We use не так..., как... to say that things aren't equal in some way.

  • Он пришёл не так рано, как я . | He came not as early as I did.
  • Свидание прошло не так удачно, как я наделся. | The date didn't go as well as I hoped it would.

We use чем..., тем... to talk about relative comparison.

  • Чем больше, тем лучше. | The more the better.
  • Чем раньше придёшь, тем больше сделаем. | The earlier you come, the more we'll do.

Superlative Constructions

With the word весь we use the grammatical comparative form in the meaning of a superlative one.
  • Он прошёл тест лучше всех. | He did the test better than everybody else.