How to tell an adverb "выше" from an adjective "выше"?

Is it an adjective or an adverb (or, perhaps, a preposition) in the following examples?:

  1. Джек выше других учеников в классе.

  2. Джек был выше других учеников в классе.

  3. А Джек всё же выше.

  4. А Джек был всё же выше.

  5. Выше смотри, ни о чём не жалей.

  6. Теплоход пошёл выше.

  7. Они оказались выше мелких склок и личных амбиций.

  8. Выше обзор лучше.

2 Answers 2


Sometimes only the context can help us decide if выше is an adjective or an adverb.

I agree with @Sergey Slepov that выше in sentences 5, 6, 8 can be only adverbs. Still, one can find such contexts that sentences 1, 2, 3, and 4 can be interpreted as having выше as an adverb, too.

For example, sentence 1, if we talk about mountain climbing, then imagine a photo of a mountain with several students climbing it, each at a different height. The context for выше being an adverb here is as following:

[— А где на этом фото Джек?]
— Джек выше других учеников в классе.

Sentence 2 can be looked at as describing that Jack climbed higher than somebody else:

  1. [Все ученики поднимались высоко на эту гору, но никто не дошёл до вершины.] Джек был выше других учеников в классе. [Он поднялся выше всех.]

Sentence 3 can also be about a photo with mountaineers, when two people are arguing about where exactly in the photo Jack is:

[— Вот это Джек, возле этого камня.
— Нет, это Стив.] А Джек всё же выше.

Sentence 4 can be a part of an argument about who climbed higher, Steve or Jack:

[— Стив был на высоте 3,5 километра.]
— А Джек был всё же выше.

Only sentence 7 has выше as an adjective without a doubt, since мелкие склоки и личные амбиции are abstract notions, one cannot be physically above or below them. Sentences 1—4 can have either an adjective (most likely) or an adverb, sentences 5, 6, and 8 have adverbs.

  • Thanks for the answer. Can you, please, come up with an example when "выше" is a preposition?
    – brilliant
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 13:06
  • 1
    @brilliant - As a preposition, выше + Gen. means 'upstream' and is used when talking about position on a river: Деревня была в тридцати верстах выше Казани. — 'The village was situated 30 miles upstream of Kazan.' Generally speaking, sometimes it's quite difficult to tell if it's a preposition or an adj./adv., e,g, in температура 15 градусов выше нуля it looks like a prep. But if we assume that in это выше моего понимания it's also a prep., then in your example 7 it's a prep., too.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 13:57
  • Note that many dictionaries don't mention that выше can be a preposition, and the two most respected ones, Ожегов and Розенталь, list it as a preposition only in the 'upstream' meaning.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 14:04

Not a universal rule, but it can be applied to your examples:

Adverbs can be taken out of the sentence, leaving it grammatically correct. Comparative adjectives often form the predicate of a sentence and can't be taken out easily.

Thus, 5, 6, 8 are adverbs and the rest are (comparative) adjectives.

If you are a native speaker, try replacing выше with a question. If it's какой?, it's an adjective, otherwise an adverb:

  • Они оказались (какими?) выше мелких склок и личных амбиций. => Adjective.
  • Они оказались (где?) выше по течению. => Adverb.
  • Could I say like if it's "be" when translated into English (and all its forms like "is", "are", "was", etc), then it's an adjective; and if it's any other verb, then it's an adverb? ("Оказались" can be rendered as "turned out to be" in English).
    – brilliant
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 8:16

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