Comparatives express a comparison between two or more entities. The comparative form of adjectives has three types:

  1. comparative of superiority (e.g. “more beautiful”)
  2. comparative of equality (e.g. “as beautiful as”)
  3. comparative of inferiority (e.g. “less beautiful”)

The comparative of superiority is the primary degree of comparison. Therefore, when the “comparative adjective” is used alone, it refers to the superiority degree.


There are two ways to construct comparative forms: morphological (i.e. with affixes) and syntactic (i.e. with adverbs). English uses the suffix “-er” to construct a comparative form morphologically (e.g. “smaller”) and the adverb “more” to simulate a comparative form syntactically (e.g. “more beautiful”). In Persian, the comparative form is always constructed morphologically using the suffix “-tar”. There are no irregular forms and the comparative suffix is used for all adjectives.

English comparative forms that are constructed syntactically, are not truly comparative. The adverb “more” is just a means to overcome the limitation of English in using the suffix “-er” for all adjectives (e.g. “beautifuller” is ungrammatical). In Persian, it is possible to say both “zibâtar ast” (literally: She is beautifuller) and “bištar zibâ ast” (literally: She is more beautiful) but only the former is a comparative form. To illustrate it better, it is similar to the case of “smaller” vs. “more small”, where only “smaller” is truly comparative.

The Comparative of Superiority

The comparative of superiority expresses that one side of comparison has a property to a higher degree compared to the other side of comparison. The following table demonstrates how to use the suffix “-tar” to construct the comparative form of adjectives (and make a comparison of superiority).

Adjective Comparative Form
more beautiful
more lovable

In some references, it is stated that بهتر is the comparative form of the adjective خوب. This is not actually the case. In Persian, both به and خوب mean “good” but the latter is the one that is used normally for this sense. In contrast, “better” is normally expressed with بهتر.

Adjective Comparative Form

Place of Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives come after the noun they modify and are related to it with the genitive marker “-e” (“-ye” after vowels to resolve vowel hiatus).

Comparing Two Entities

To compare “A” with “B”, the comparative form and the ablative preposition از (“az”: from) are placed in the following order:


Persian is a pro-drop language (“pro-drop” comes from “pronoun-dropping”). The conjugated forms of verbs contain the information about their grammatical person. Therefore, subject pronouns are not normally used. In the first example below, the side A of comparison i.e. او (“u”: he, she) is absent in the Persian sentence but the verb است (“ast”: is) indicates that the side A of comparison is third-person singular. Similarly, in the second example, “-and” indicates that the Side A is third-person plural i.e. آنها (“ânhâ”: they).

Variants of Comparative Phrases

It can be said that the side “B” of comparison is marked in ablative case using the preposition “az”. Since Persian has free word order, words can change place to indicate different emphases. Among other variants, the comparison can be expressed in the following variant as well:


This section might only be useful for advanced learners. Formulating comparative phrases is the personal view of the author.

A comparison pattern can be divided into four constituents:

  1. Entity A (abbreviated as A)
  2. Entity B, which is in ablative case (abbreviated as B)
  3. Comparative adjective (abbreviated as C)
  4. Verb (abbreviated as V)

According to the multiplication principle of mathematics, Persian can express comparisons in 24 different ways (the factorial of 4 equals 24). All of these 24 variants can occur both in the spoken and written language. They share the same basic meaning and differ in the place of emphasis. This might be strange to the speakers of languages like English that lack free word order but it is quite familiar to those who know Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Russian and other languages with free word order. In Persian, the primary word order is SOV (Subject Object Verb). Therefore, the primary comparison pattern is ABCV, where A corresponds to Subject, B to Object and CV to Verb.

Pattern Sample
(1) ABCV کسی از مادر مهربانتر ندیدم
(2) ABVC کسی از مادر ندیدم مهربانتر
(3) ACBV کسی مهربانتر از مادر ندیدم
(4) ACVB کسی مهربانتر ندیدم از مادر
(5) AVBC کسی ندیدم از مادر مهربانتر
(6) AVCB کسی ندیدم مهربانتر از مادر
(7) BACV از مادر کسی مهربانتر ندیدم
(8) BAVC از مادر کسی ندیدم مهربانتر
(9) BCAV از مادر مهربانتر کسی ندیدم
(10) BCVA از مادر مهربانتر ندیدم کسی
(11) BVAC از مادر ندیدم کسی مهربانتر
(12) BVCA از مادر ندیدم مهربانتر کسی
(13) CABV مهربانتر کسی از مادر ندیدم
(14) CAVB مهربانتر کسی ندیدم از مادر
(15) CBAV مهربانتر از مادر کسی ندیدم
(16) CBVA مهربانتر از مادر ندیدم کسی
(17) CVAB مهربانتر ندیدم کسی از مادر
(18) CVBA مهربانتر ندیدم از مادر کسی
(19) VABC ندیدم کسی از مادر مهربانتر
(20) VACB ندیدم کسی مهربانتر از مادر
(21) VBAC ندیدم از مادر کسی مهربانتر
(22) VBCA ندیدم از مادر مهربانتر کسی
(23) VCAB ندیدم مهربانتر کسی از مادر
(24) VCBA ندیدم مهربانتر از مادر کسی

The following table demonstrates some of comparison patterns used in Persian poetry.

Pattern Sample
ACBV که دوستان وفادار بهتر از خویشند (سعدی)
VCBA ندیدم خوشتر از شعر تو حافظ (حافظ)
CBAV خوشتر از فکر می و جام چه خواهد بودن (حافظ)
CBVA پریشانتر از خود ندیدم کسی (سعدی)