Comparative and Superlative Adverbs for intermediate learners

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives adverbs and verbs, but what if we want to make a comparison between things by using these adverbs? Read more.

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"Comparative and Superlative Adverbs" in the English Grammar

What Are Comparative and Superlative Adverbs?

In English, we use comparative adverbs to compare two actions or states. However, when we want to compare multiple actions, people, or states with each other to find the best or worst among them, we use superlative adverbs.

Degrees of Comparison

In order to compare, different degrees of comparison must be used to indicate the degree or intensity of a quality or action. Take a quick look at the list below:

  • The Comparative Degree
  • The Superlative Degree

Tip!

When the adverb is not used to compare two or more things with each other, it is in the positive degree or normal form.

The Comparative Degree

When we want to compare two people, actions, or states, we use the comparative form. This form is used to show the greater or lesser degree of an adverb. The structure differs based on the base adverb. Let us study them below.

One-syllable Adverbs

If the adverbs only have one syllable, their comparative degree is formed by adding '-er' at the end. Let us study the table below:

Comparative Adverbs
Fast Faster
High Higher
Close Closer
Near Nearer
Low Lower

Two-syllable Adverbs

If the adverbs have two or more syllables, the determiner 'more' is added before them to form the comparative degree. Pay attention to the following table carefully:

Comparative Adverbs
Slowly More slowly
Quickly More quickly
Recently More recently
Horribly More horribly

Irregular Adverbs

Certain adverbs undergo a complete change in form when they are used as comparative adverbs. Let us take a look at the following table:

The Comparative Adverbs
Good Better
Bad Worse
Little Less
Much More

How Do We Use Them?

To indicate a comparison between two things using comparative adverbs in a statement, we add 'than' after the adverb. Make sure you study the following examples carefully:

Angie runs faster than Maggie.

She tends to type more slowly than her coworkers.

The Superlative Degree

When we want to compare more than two people, actions, or states with each other, we use the superlative form. In this case, we want to show the highest or lowest degree of a quality. Let us examine them in more detail.

One-syllable Adverbs

When the adverb has only one syllable, the suffix '-est' is added to change it to the superlative form. Take a look at the following examples:

The Superlative Adverbs
Fast Fastest
Close Closest
High Highest
Near Nearest

Two-syllable Adverbs

When an adverb has two or more syllables, the determiner most is added before the adverb to form the superlative degree. In this case, we are referring to the highest or the lowest degree among multiple things. Let us carefully examine the table below:

The Superlative Adverbs
Beautifully Most Beautifully
Carefully Most carefully
Happily Most happily
Horribly Most Horribly

Irregular Adverbs

Just like the comparative form, there are some adverbs that change completely to form the superlative. Take a look at the following table:

The Superlative Adverbs
Good Best
Bad Worst
Little Least
Far Farthest

How Do We Use Them?

Study the following examples carefully to see how we can use these superlative adverbs in statements:

Amongst you all, Amy writes her homework the best.

The white horse ran the fastest in the race.

Warning!

Keep in mind that not all adverbs can have comparative and superlative forms. Typically, only gradable adverbs that can be measured on a scale have comparative and superlative forms. Compare the following examples:

Archie typed the fastest among all.

The red one looks absolutely better on you than the yellow one.

(Not the red one looks the most absolutely ...)

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