Less than and The Least


Comparatives and superlatives also express lessening or de-intensifing qualities.

Comparatives and Superlatives Review: Intensification

 Comparative = (adjective)-er/ier; or more + adjective
 Superlative = (adjective)-est/iest; or the most + adjective



Adjective Comparative Superlative
smooth smoother the smoothest
salty saltier the saltiest
fashionable more fashionable the most fashionable
enthusiastic more enthusiastic the most enthusiastic


For more details, see COMPARISON.

• I am smarter than my neighbor.
• Your friend is richer than his cousin.
• Mr. Lum is the most productive person in the company.


Lessening Comparatives and Superlatives

To lessen or de-intensity an adjective quality, we use

  Comparative = less + adjective

  Superlative = the least + adjective


Adjective Comparative Superlative
tough less tough the least tough
sweet less sweet the least sweet
helpful less helpful the least helpful
stormy less stormy the least stormy



The Least in Superlative Sentences

  Forms of be: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being  


  Subject + be/main verb + the least + adjective.

• You three are the least well-behaved in of the whole class.
• I think Plan B is the least risky option.
• I ordered the least spicy dish.
• Joe had the least experienced among the applicants.


Less in Comparative Sentences

  Subject + be + less + adjective + (than + object).

• Mr. Buick’s team is less motivated than Mrs. Maguire’s (team).
• Quails are less colourful than pheasants.
• My computer course was less difficult than my psychology course.


Yes-No Questions; less

  Be + subject + less + adjective + (than + object)?

• Are older people less adaptive than younger people?
• Is butter less fattening than bread?
• Was there less crime in the past?


WH Questions: the least

  What/who + be/main verb + the least + adjective (noun)?

• Who are the least dedicated workers in this department?
• What is the least attractive building in the city centre?
• What was your least favorite subject or activity in school?
• Who does the least desirable jobs?






Respond to the following statements and questions. Say why and give examples.

Work, Career

1. What is the least difficult way to become rich?

2. Who among your friends has the least stressful job?

3. What are the least desirable occupations among young people? Which occupations pay the least amount of money?

4. Managers are less busy than their subordinates. True or false?

5. Bart had the least amount of formal education among the candidate for the post; nevertheless after the interview, he was hired. Why?

6. There is less security now than in my grandparents’ time, but there is more opportunity. Yes or no?



7. Who among your acquaintances drinks and smokes the least?

8. What is the least tedious/laborious way to master English?

9. What is the least productive use of your time? What is the least effective way to work or study?

10. What is the least strenuous way to be fit and healthy?


Daily Life

11. What are your least favorite foods and music?

12. What are the least interesting topics for you?