Elements of Latin Lesson 68
Regular Comparison of Adjectives; The Comparative with QUAM

Excelsior — Higher
Motto of the state of New York.

441. Comparison of Adjectives in English. In English, adjectives regularly change their form to express quality in different degrees. This is called comparison. There are three degrees of comparison: the positive, the comparative, and the superlative. The usual way of comparing an adjective is by using the suffix -er for the comparative and -est for the superlative: as, positive high, comparative higher, superlative highest. Sometimes we use the adverbs more and most: as, positive beautiful, comparative more beautiful, superlative most beautiful.

442. Comparison of Adjectives in Latin. In Latin, as in English, adjectives are regularly compared by adding suffixes. From the base of the positive the comparative is formed by adding -ior, masculine and feminine, and -ius, neuter; the superlative, by adding -issimus, -issima, -issimum. Thus, altus (base alt-), high, and gravis (base grav-), heavy, are compared as follows:

altus, -a, -um
altior, altius
altissimus, -a, -um
gravis, grave
gravior, gravius
gravissimus, -a, -um

443. Adjectives in -er form the comparative regularly, but the superlative is formed by adding -rimus, -rima, -rimum to the nominative masculine of the positive. Thus, ācer (base ācr-), sharp; pulcher (base pulchr-), pretty; and līber (base līber-), free, have the following comparative and superlative forms:

ācer, ācris, ācre
ācrior, ācrius
ācerrimus, -a, -um
pulcher, pulchra, pulchrum
pulchrior, pulchrius
pulcherrimus, -a, -um
līber, lībera, līberum
līberior, līberius
līberrimus, -a, -um

444. The superlative is often translated by very: as, altissimus, very high.

445. Comparative with quam. In English two objects are compared by the use of a comparative followed by the conjunction than: as, the ditch is wider than the wall. In this sentence ditch is nominative, subject of is; and wall is also nominative, subject of is understood. That is to say, the two objects compared are in the same case. In Latin the word for than is quam and the usage is the same. Thus the sentence above becomes fossa est lātior quam mūrus.

446. Rule for Comparative with quam. In comparisons with quam the two objects compared are in the same case.


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Special Vocabulary

Latin Word Meaning Related Words
brevis, -e short, brief brevity, abbreviate
difficilis, -e hard difficult, difficulty
facilis, -e easy facility, facilitate
fortis, -e brave, strong fortitude, fort, fortify
ignis, -is (-ium) (m) fire ignite, ignition, igneous

447. 1. Cōnsul est aequior quam rēx.   2. Supplicium rēgis erat gravissimum.   3. Equus est celerior quam homō.   4. Sed equus nōn est omnium animālium celerrimum.1   5. Virtūs Scaevolae, quī ignem et mortem nōn timēbat, erat clārissima.   6. Quis erat fortior quam Thēseus, quī puerōs puellāsque patriae servāvit?   7. Viae Rōmānae erant longissimae et per multās terrās patēbant.   8. Iter quod per silvās dūcēbat erat difficile.   9. Castra in locō inīquissimō posita erant.   10. Id iter erat brevius et facilius.   11. Mare est altius quam flūmen.
1 Neuter, agreeing with animal understood.

448. 1. The wall of that town was very high.   2. Gabla's horse is more beautiful and swifter than mine.   3. Those soldiers are very eager.   4. That route was longer and more difficult.   5. The longest rivers are not always the deepest.   6. The fire which the goddess gave to the queen was very sacred.

449. Compare the adjectives brevis, fortis, nōtus, gravis, crēber, miser, grātus, longus, tardus, integer.


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