The comparative and the superlative

Some adjectives describe the qualities of a noun, for example tall, long, expensive. These are qualitative adjectives. Qualitative adjectives have three forms; the positive, the comparative and the superlative.

Positive
Comparative
Superlative
big
bigger
biggest
slow
slower
slowest
difficult
more difficult
most difficult


Comparative adjectives

A comparative adjective is used to express a difference between two things. For example, bigger is the comparative form of big. We use the comparative when we want to compare two nouns. The preposition than is used after a comparative adjective in order to introduce the second part of a comparison.
  • He needs stronger painkilling drugs.
  • I'm trying to find a better job.
  • He’s older than me.
  • My daughter is taller than my wife.
  • He was more intelligent than his brother.


Superlative adjectives

A superlative adjective expresses the greatest degree of a quality. For example,  biggest is the superlative form of big. We use the superlative to compare one person or thing with all other people or things in a group. Remember to use the definite article before a superlative.
  • He is my best friend.
  • What’s the highest mountain in the world?
  • It was the happiest year of my life.
  • She is the tallest girl in her class

Forming comparative and superlative adjectives

We form the comparative and superlative in different ways, depending on the number of syllables in the base adjective.

Adjectives with one syllable

If the adjective has one syllable, the suffix -er is added to the end to form the comparative. The suffix -est is added to form the superlative.
quick
quicker
quickest
big
bigger
biggest
fat
fatter
fattest
sad
sadder
saddest
hot
hotter
hottest

We double the final letter when the adjective ends in consonant+vowel+consonant.     
         

Adjectives with two syllables

Some adjectives with two syllables take the suffixes -er and -est.
narrow
narrower
narrowest
simple
simpler
simplest
tiny
tinier
tiniest

Note: If the adjective ends in -y, change y to i before adding -er or -est.

Some use more to form the comparative and most to form the superlative.
useful
more useful
most useful
bored
more bored
most bored

Note: More or most is not used with the -er or -est form of an adjective.

Adjectives with three or more syllables

All adjectives with three or more syllables use more and most.
interesting
more interesting
most interesting
difficult
more difficult
most difficult

Irregular adjectives

Some common adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms.
good
better
best
bad
worse
worst
little
less
least
much
more
most



Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

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