Comparatives and Superlatives

Adjectives and Adverbs


Comparatives and superlatives are types of adjectives and adverbs that are used to compare two or more things or people.

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Comparative means to compare one thing to another.

Comparative adjectives and adverbs compare two things or people.

cheerleader            cheerleader jumping


Comparative Adjectives:
Jan is taller than Sally.
Sally's blue uniform is more colorful than Jan's pink uniform.

Comparative Adverbs:
Sally jumps higher than Jan.
Jan is cheering more quietly than Sally.



Superlative means to the highest degree or the most.

Superlative adjectives and adverbs compare three or more things or people.


group of people

Superlative Adjectives:
Mrs. Smith is the shortest person in the group.
Kate is wearing the most colorful outfit.

Superlative Adverbs:
Mrs. Smith talks most quietly.
Bob and Sam laugh loudest at Mary's joke.


In this lesson, you will learn how to form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Word Form Examples Comparative Rule Examples Superlative
Rule
Examples
One syllable adjectives ending in "e" fine

wise

large
Add "r" finer

wiser

larger
Add "st" finest

wisest

largest
One syllable adjectives ending with one vowel and one consonant big

fat

hot
Double the final consonant and add the suffix "er" bigger

fatter

hotter
Double the final consonant and add the suffix "est" biggest

fattest

hottest
One syllable adjectives with two vowels or ending with two consonants tall

smart

neat

loud
Add the suffix "er" taller

smarter

neater

louder
Add the suffix "est" tallest

smartest

neatest

loudest
Two syllable adjectives ending in "y" pretty

angry

happy
Change the "y" to "i" and add the suffix "er" prettier

angrier

happier
Change the "y" to "i" and add the suffix "est" prettiest

angriest

happiest
Adjectives with two or more syllables not ending in "y" beautiful

important

dangerous
Do not change the word

Add the word "more" before the adjective
more beautiful

more important

more dangerous
Do not change the word

Add the word "most" before the adjective
most beautiful

most important

most dangerous
Adjectives with two syllables ending in "er", "le", "ow"

gentle

hollow

yellow


Add the suffix "er"

(If the word ends in "e", just ad "r")
gentler

hollower

yellower
Add the suffix "est"

(If the words ends in "e", just add "st")
gentlest

hollowest

yellowest


Of course there are exceptions to the rules. (Exception means that they do not follow the rules.)

Here are just a few of the most common adjective exceptions.

Word Comparative form Superlative form
good better best
bad worse worst
far farther farthest
far further furthest
many more most
little less least
oldeldereldest



Some two syllable adjectives can follow two rules. Both forms of these words are grammatically correct.

For example:
Word Comparative forms Superlative forms
friendly friendlier
more friendly
friendliest
most friendly
quiet quieter
more quiet
quietest
most quiet
simple simpler
more simple
simplest
most simple

animals

The elephants are the loudest animals on the boat.
The giraffes are taller than the penguins.
The most gentle animal is the dove.
The elephant is bigger than the monkey. 


Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

Some adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms. 

They follow most of the same rules as adjectives.

Word Form Examples Comparative Rule Examples Superlative Rule Examples
One syllable adverbs late

soon

hard

fast
Add "r" or "er" later

sooner

harder

faster
Add "st" or "est" latest

soonest

hardest

fastest
Adverbs with two or more syllables often

seldom
Do not change the word

Add the word "more" before the adverb
more often

more seldom

Do not change the word

Add the word "most" before the adverb
most often

most seldom

Some two syllable adverbs ending in "y" early
Change the "y" to "i" and add the suffix "er" earlier
Change the "y" to "i" and add the suffix "est" earliest
Adverbs that end in "ly"

wisely


quietly


sweetly


Do not change the word

Add the word "more" before the adverb
more wisely

more
   quietly

more sweetly      

Do not change the word

Add the word "most" before the adverb
most wisely

most quietly

most sweetly

Most comparative and superlative adverbs use "more" and "most" because they end in "ly". Most adverbs end in "ly".

Here are some more "ly" adverbs that would use "more" and "most":

animals
  • easily
  • boldly
  • bravely
  • fearlessly
  • kindly
  • lightly
  • openly
  • politely
  • properly
  • rudely
  • safely
  • softly
  • silently
  • tenderly
  • weakly
The bird sings more tenderly than the penguin.
The lion roars most boldly of all the animals.
 


Of course there are exceptions to the rules. Here are just a few of the most common adverb exceptions.

WordComparative formSuperlative form
badlyworseworst
littlelessleast
muchmoremost
wellbetterbest
farfartherfarthest
farfurtherfurthest

Farther vs Further: What is the Difference?

teddy bearsick bearteddy bear with flowers

The first bear feels better than the second bear.
The third bear feels the best of all three bears!
The bear in the middle feels the worst.


These were the rules of forming Comparatives and Superlatives. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books!


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