The rules for forming comparatives and superlatives from adverbs are varied. (See
Comparatives of Adverbs
The goat can see better than you think.
("better": comparative of well)
Try to paint the edges more carefully; it will save time later.
("more carefully": comparative of carefully)
He tries harder than most, but he has no aptitude for languages.
("harder": comparative of hard)
The engine operates less efficiently with alcohol.
("less efficiently": comparative of efficiently)
Superlatives of Adverbs
I have found that the office runs best with the radio on and the
("best": superlative of well)
The gift is most gratefully received.
("most gratefully": superlative of gratefully)
It was obvious that they were not used to high heels, but Karen moved least
gracefully of all.
("least gracefully": superlative of gracefully)
She answered most abruptly.
("most abruptly": superlative of abruptly)
In general, comparatives and superlatives of adverbs do not cause difficulties for native English speakers. However, the mistake of using a
double comparative or a double superlative is fairly common in speech. This error is more common with the
comparatives and superlatives of adjectives, but is occasionally seen with adverbs too.
(See Beware to the right.)
Forming comparatives and superlatives from adverbs:
Than One Syllable
"less" or "more"
"most" or "least"
An expression like 'more slowly' (formed from the adverb slowly) is known as a comparative. It is used to show who (or what) has performed an action in a specific manner to the greater or lesser degree. (i.e.,
It is used to compare two performances.)
Use Paul's version; he writes more diplomatically than Erika.
(In this example, "more diplomatically" compares Paul's performance with Erika's. The verb is
Claire dances less elegantly.
(In this example, "less elegantly" is the comparative. It compares Claire's performance with somebody else's.)
An expression like 'most carefully' (formed from the adverb carefully) is known as a superlative. It is used to show who (or what) has performed an action in a specific manner to the greatest or least degree.
The chairman spoke most convincingly of all.
("most convincingly": superlative of convincingly)
Pete acted the least sociably.
("least sociably": superlative of sociably)
ONLY DO IT ONCE |
When forming a comparative or superlative, be careful not to use a double comparative or a double superlative.
Of all the fish in Europe, pike attack the most fastest.
(This is a double superlative. The word "fastest" is the superlative of
fast. It is a mistake to use the word "most" as well.)