Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
Forming Comparative and Superlative AdjectivesAn adjective can be in one of the following three degrees.
- The positive degree. For example:
- small, happy, wide, beautiful
- The comparative degree. For example:
- smaller, happier, wider, more beautiful
- The superlative degree. For example:
- smallest, happiest, widest, most beautiful
Are You Good at Forming Comparative and Superlative Adjectives?Here's a quick test. (Hint: Check whether you're looking for the comparative degree or the superlative degree before clicking.)
More Examples of Comparative AdjectivesHere are some more examples of comparative adjectives:
- Misty Blue is a stronger horse on the flat. ("stronger" — comparative of "strong")
- The band must be made from a more precious metal than silver. ("more precious" — comparative of "precious")
- Peter is far clumsier. ("clumsier" — comparative of "clumsy")
- Try this question. It is less difficult. ("Less difficult" is a comparative of "difficult." However, it is common practice to choose a word with the opposite meaning rather than use the "less" form; for example, use "easier" instead of "less difficult," and use "weaker" instead of "less strong.")
- The pansies here seem less dainty than the ones at home. ("less dainty" — comparative of "dainty")
More Examples of Superlative AdjectivesHere are some more examples of superlative adjectives:
- Geoff is now officially the strongest man in the world. ("strongest" — superlative of "strong")
- The bill is extortionate, and this is the noisiest place I have ever stayed. ("noisiest" — superlative of "noisy")
- It is the least attractive offer, but we are obliged to take it. ("least attractive" — superlative of "attractive")
- He ranks as one of the most silly people on the planet. ("silliest" — superlative of "silly")
- Last week, I stated that this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister and now wish to withdraw that statement. (Mark Twain) ("ugliest" — superlative of "ugly")
Forming Comparative and Superlative AdjectivesThe table below shows the rules for forming comparative and superlative adjectives:
|Type of Adjective||Example in the Positive Degree||How to Form the Comparative Degree||How to Form the Superlative Degree|
|one syllable||add er||add est|
|one syllable ending vowel consonant||double consonant and add er||double consonant and add est|
|more than one syllable||add less or more||add most or least|
|more than one syllable ending y||remove y add ier|
|remove y add iest|
|irregular||no rules||no rules|
Only Do It Once!When forming a comparative adjective or a superlative adjective, be careful not to create a double comparative or a double superlative. This is a common mistake, particularly in speech.
- Ann is more prettier than Carla. (This is a double comparative. The word "prettier" is the comparative of "pretty." It is a mistake to use the word "more" as well.)
- Ann is prettier than Carla.
- He was the most best player. (This is a double superlative. The word "best" is the superlative of "good." It is a mistake to use "most" as well. The word 'bestest' is obviously wrong too.)
- He was the best player.
- He was the most quickest in the trials.
- He was the quickest in the trials.
"More Single" or "More Dead"?Arguably, there are adjectives that should not have comparative or superlative forms because their meanings already express the qualities to the highest possible degree. For example:
- Instantaneous (Can something be more instantaneous?)
- Dead (Can something be more dead?)
- Single (Can something be more single?)
- Unique (Can something be more unique?)