Expect to revise.
Write what you want in rough draft. Then, edit carefully. Here are some common problems with suggested fixes. There are, certainly, other possible repairs.
1. Fixes for comparisons that are incomplete.
Is the writer suggesting that Sally likes Sarah more than Sally likes Benny or claiming that Sally likes Sarah more than Benny likes Sarah? Either way, the reader is likely to stop to consider the writing rather than being immersed in the author’s ideas. The statement needs to be completed, but even then it sounds awkward. Simplify to get at the real issue:
2. Fixes for comparisons that lack parallel structure:
This is the “apples and oranges” rule.
This compares an action (eating) to a thing (gin). If it’s the action that’s at issue, compare it to some other action: “Eating apples is more healthful than drinking gin.” If the foods that are at issue, then move the focus to them:
3. Fixes for comparisons that lack logic:
Now, it’s tacky enough to go munching on Jenny without suggesting she’s less tasty than a hamburger! Here, what is lacking is an apostrophe: Add an apostrophe + –s to make the proper noun ‘Jenny’ into a possessive. This saves her from becoming food:
Some things are simply not comparable. They are absolutes.
Things which are not amenable to comparison include the following: live, lost, damned, empty, complete, unique, full, possible, impossible, etc.
(This, of course, is not the case in the fictive world of zombies and vampires:
Staked and left in the sunshine, Vampire John achieved “forever death.”)
It is possible to get more confused, or to go deeper into the woods, but people are either lost or they aren’t. An empty gas tank can’t get emptier.
4. Fixes to correct comparative and superlative forms:
When comparing two things, be careful use the comparative form of the adjective rather than the superlative:
Use the comparative with two things: quicker, better, faster.
Use the superlative form of the adjective when comparing three or more things: quickest, best, fastest.
One syllable words use the endings (-er, -est). With two or more syllable words use more and most (spacious, more spacious, most spacious). These are not additive:
Remember that the forms are not always identical: good, better, best for example. Spelling varies. When in doubt, run spell check or look them up.
5. Positive form: Use the positive form of the adjective if the comparison contains one of the following expressions:
not as … as / not so … as
Example: John is not as tall as Arnie.
Forms: An incomplete list
Original Comparative Superlative
good better best bad / ill worse worst little (amount) less least little (size) smaller smallest much / many more most far (place + time) further furthest far (place) farther farthest late (time) later latest late (order) latter last near (place) nearer nearest near (order) – next old (people or things) older oldest old
Purdue University. The Owl at Purdue. 2005. Web. Found 27 July 2014.
“Q&A. The Chicago Manual of Style Online. The Chicago Manual of Style. 2010. Found 30 May 2014.