Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used to compare one noun to another noun. Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more nouns.

"Comparative and Superlative Adjectives" in English Grammar

What Are Comparative and Superlative Adjectives?

Imagine we have three men standing next to one another. Each of them has a different height. We want to describe their heights and compare them with one another. To do that, we must use superlative and comparative adjectives.

comparative superlative
nice nicer the nicest
hot hotter the hottest
large larger the largest

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: Types

Based on how to make an adjective superlative or comparative, we categorize them into three groups.

  1. Type I: monosyllable adjectives
  2. Type II: multisyllable adjectives
  3. Type III: irregular adjectives

Type I: Monosyllable Adjectives

Type I adjectives have only one syllable. What is a syllable?
Based on pronunciation, a word is divided into different parts. Each of these parts must contain one vowel sound. We call each divided part a syllable.
Here are some examples of monosyllable adjectives:

  • hot
  • big
  • large
  • short
  • tall

Type I: Comparative Adjectives

When we have a monosyllable adjective, we can make it a comparative adjective by simply adding the suffix '-er' to the adjective. A comparative adjective compares two things/people/places.

hot → hotter

large → larger

tall → taller

dry → drier

Spelling Rules for Comparative Adjectives

As you can see in the examples above, there are some spelling changes when we are forming a comparative adjectives. Here are some of the rules you must know:

  • If the adjective ends in '-e,' add '-r.'

large → larger

nice → nicer

pale → paler

  • If the adjective ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant, double the final consonant and add '-er.'

big → bigger

wet → wetter

mad → madder

  • If the adjective ends with a consonant + '-y,' change '-y' to '-i,' then add '-er.'

dry → drier

sly → slier

Exceptions

There are some exception for these rules. For example, some monosyllable adjectives end in '-y' do not change their '-y' to '-i.'

shy → shyer

Type I: Superlative Adjectives

'taller' is the comparative form of the adjective 'tall'

A superlative adjective compares one thing/person/place to all the others in the same group. We can form a comparative by adding the suffix '-est' to the monosyllable adjectives. The important thing is the article 'the'.

tall → the tallest

large → the largest

dry → the driest

Spelling Rules for Superlative Adjectives

As you can see in the examples above, there are some spelling changes when we are forming a superlative adjectives. Here are some of the rules you should know:

  • If the adjective ends in '-e,' add '-st.'

large → the largest

nice → the nicest

pale → the palest

  • If the adjective ends in a consonant-vowel-consonant, double the final consonant and add '-est.'

big → the biggest

wet → the wettest

mad → the maddest

  • If the adjective ends with a consonant + -y, change -y to -i, then add -est.

dry → the driest

sly → the sliest

Type II: Multisyllable Adjectives

Type II adjectives have more than one syllable. We can divide type II adjectives into two categories:

  1. multisyllable adjectives
  2. multisyllable adjectives ending in -y

Type II: Comparative Adjectives

When we have a multisyllable adjective, we can make it a comparative adjective by using the determiner 'more' + adj.

beautiful → more beautiful

difficult → more difficult

wonderful → more wonderful

For multi-syllable adjectives ending in -y, we can make it a comparative adjective by changing -y to -i, then adding the suffix -er.

easy → easier

funny → funnier

pretty → prettier

Using less

When we have a multi-syllable adjective, we use the word 'less' to modify a noun as having a lower amount of quality when comparing two things.

These flowers are less expensive than I had expected.

I'm searching for a less demanding career.

Type II: Superlative Adjectives

When we have a multi-syllable adjective, we can make it a superlative adjective by using the determiner 'most' in the structure 'the + most + adj.'

beautiful → the most beautiful

difficult → the most difficult

wonderful → the most wonderful

For multi-syllable adjectives ending in -y, we can make it a superlative adjective changing -y to -i, then add the suffix -est.

easy → the easiest

funny → the funniest

pretty → the prettiest

Using The Least

When we have a multi-syllable adjective, we use the word 'least' to modify a noun as having the lowest amount of quality.

She is my least favorite person in the world.

I am looking for the least expensive house in the area.

Type III: Irregular Adjectives

Irregular adjectives do not follow the rules we discussed earlier in this lesson. You have to memorize the comparative and superlative forms of them.
In the table below, you can see the irregular adjectives in the English language:

Comparative Superlative
good better the best
bad worse the worst
well better the best
far (extent) further the furthest
far (distance) farther the farthest
many more the most
much more the most
little (amount) less the least

The Preposition 'Than'

'Than' is a preposition that is used to introduce the second part of a comparison.

Ben is taller than Adam.

Lisa is prettier than Megan.

The first question is more difficult than the second one.

Uses

Other than comparison, we can use comparative adjectives to:

  1. show how something or someone changes

We can use two comparatives with 'and' to demonstrate how something or someone is changing. For example:

The percentage got smaller and smaller.

Everything is getting more and more expensive.

  • show the dependency of thing on another

We can use comparative adjectives with 'the' to describe that one thing depends on another. Look at some examples:

The older he grows, the wiser we becomes.

The darker the berry, the juicier it is.

Review

To make comparisons between people or things, we have no choice but to use comparative and superlative adjectives. There are three types of each which were discussed in detail throughout the article.

type 1 type 2 type 3
comparative My husband is taller than his brother. My mother is more beautiful than hers. The yellow dress is better than the blue one.
superlative My husband is the tallest in their office. My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world. This is the best wedding dress.

Comments

You might also like

Adjective Placement and Order

In this lesson, we will learn the place of adjectives in a sentence and where they appear. We will also learn about the order of different types of adjectives

Types of Adjectives

Adjectives are the most used words in sentences. There are several types of adjectives according to their uses. Let's get to know them!

Descriptive Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are adjectives that modify a noun or pronoun by showing its quality. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Attributive and Predicative Adjectives

An attributive adjective is an adjective that appears before the noun or pronoun it describes. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Compound Adjectives

Compound adjectives are used as one single adjective. They function as the head of the sentence. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

Proper Adjectives

Proper adjectives are commonly used in English. They tend to modify nouns and pronouns. in this lesson, we will learn more about them.

Download LanGeek app for free