We can use adjectives for equal and unequal comparisons, in other words, to describe whether things have similar characteristics or not. 


Use adjectives with “as __ as” to compare equal things.

The first way to use adjectives for equal and unequal comparisons:


When two things are equal in a certain aspect, we can use the structure “as + [adjective] + as” to show this.

For example:

Dave is as old as Dan.

Dave is as tall as Dan.

Dave is as handsome as Dan.

They are twins.

Use “not as / less __ than” to compare unequal things.

Use “not as / less __ than” with adjectives to compare unequal things.

When two things are unequal in some way, we can use the opposite structure “not as + [adjective]” or the quantifier “less + [adjective] + than” to describe this difference.

For example:

Paris is not as big as Moscow.

Paris is less big than Moscow.


“Not as / Less __ than” can have the same meaning as using comparative adjectives

visual aid to understand not as and less than

For example:

The mouse is not as loud as the lion.

The mouse is less loud than the lion.

The lion is louder than the mouse.

The mouse is quieter than the lion.

Summary of adjectives for equal and unequal comparisons

So far we have learned how to use adjectives for equal and unequal comparisons in English. However, when we are comparing things, we can change regular adjectives into comparative adjectives. These structures add “er” to the end of short adjectives or “more” before long adjectives to show the difference between two objects.  Read our article on comparatives and superlatives to see how they work in more detail. Using a comparative adjective can mean the same as using some of the structures we’ve seen above, so remember that there are several ways you can make comparisons in English that can express the same meaning. 

Try this online exercise to test what you have learnt about using adjectives for equal and unequal comparison



Ilaria Marazzina

Ilaria Marazzina

Senior teacher at Break into English

As savvy as a fox and as elegant as an eagle, Ilaria enjoys writing grammar explanations with pictures for all our students around the world to use!