One of the jobs of an adverb  is to modify a verb action, for example:

  • Joe¬† ran fast.

If we want to compare one verb action with another, we can use a comparative adverb, for example:

  • Joe ran fast, but Mary came first because she¬†ran¬† faster.
We use comparative adverbs when talking about two  actions (not three or more actions). Comparison is always between TWO things.

How do we Make Comparative Adverbs?

There are three basic ways to make or "form" a comparative adverb:

1. One-syllable adverbs: add -er

If an adverb has only one syllable, we usually just add -er to make it comparative: fast → faster. Here are some examples:

adverbcomparative adverb
fastfaster
hardharder
highhigher
latelater
longlonger
lowlower
widewider

Note that most one-syllable adverbs  have the same form as their equivalent adjectives . Don't let this confuse you. For example:

 positivecomparative
adjectivea  fast cara  faster car
adverbhe drives fasthe drives faster

2. Two-syllable adverbs: use more

When an adverb has two or more syllables (like all -ly  adverbs), we can make it comparative by adding more in front: quickly → more quickly. Look at these examples:

adverbcomparative adverb
carefullymore carefully
efficientlymore efficiently
happilymore happily
horriblymore horribly
oftenmore often
quicklymore quickly
recentlymore recently
slowlymore slowly
sadlymore sadly
strangelymore strangely

We can also use less in place of more to suggest a reduction  in the action. Look at these examples:

sentencefor example
She visits often.once a week
Now she visits¬†more¬†often . ‚ÜĎonce a day
Now she visits¬†less¬†often . ‚Üďonce a month

3. Irregular Adverbs

A few adverbs have irregular form, for example:

adverbcomparative adverb
badlyworse
earlyearlier
farfurther/farther
littleless
muchmore
wellbetter

Comparative Adverbs with Informal Forms

Note that a few adverbs have a formal ("correct") form with -ly  and an informal form without -ly . The same is then true of their comparative forms. Although you may hear some native speakers using the informal form in speech, it is best avoided in formal situations and examinations. The most common examples are:

adverbcomparative adverb
cheap/cheaplycheaper/more cheaply
loud/loudlylouder/more loudly
quick/quicklyquicker/more quickly
slow/slowlyslower/more slowly
Note that a few adverbs have NO comparative form, for example:
again, first
daily, yesterday
here, there
now, then
never, sometimes

How do we Use Comparative Adverbs?

Now that you know how to make  comparative adverbs, let's see how to use  them. Look at these examples. Notice that we may use more to suggest an increase in the action and less to suggest a decrease in the action. Notice also that the comparative adverb is often followed by than:

  • Trains go fast but planes go¬†faster.
  • Planes go¬†faster ¬†than trains.
  • Trains don't go¬†faster ¬†than planes.
  • Trains go¬†more slowly¬†than planes.
  • Planes go¬†less slowly¬†than trains.
  • Joe won because he played¬†better ¬†than Jane played.
  • Joe won because he played¬†better ¬†than Jane.
  • Joe won because he played¬†better.
  • Did cities grow¬†more quickly¬†after the Industrial Revolution?
  • He hit the ball¬†more powerfully¬†than his competitor.
  • As we get older we remember things¬†less easily.
  • Could you talk a bit¬†more quietly¬†please?
  • Could you talk a bit¬†less loudly¬†please?
  • I can't hear you. Please speak¬†louder/ more loudly.
Although we use comparative adverbs when talking about two  actions, in fact one or both of the actions may be a group of actions.
  • The planet Mercury¬†revolves ¬†around the sun¬†faster ¬†than all the other planets.
Here, we are talking about eight planets, but we are still comparing one action (Mercury's) to one other action (that of all the other planets).

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