Comparative and Superlative Adjectives in English Grammar

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives in English Grammar

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

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Imagine we have three man 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.

Adam is tall .

Here, we just used an adjective. 'Tall' is our basic adjective.

Ben is taller than Adam .

Here, we are comparing two persons, Adam and Ben. Thus we are using a comparative structure.

Mike is the tallest of them all .

Here, 'the tallest' is the superlative adjective. It means the most of something.

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

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: Type I

Type I adjectives, have only one syllable. What is a syllable?
Based on the 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 the 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

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

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 must 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

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: Type II

Type II adjectives, have more than syllables.
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 multisyllable adjectives ending in -y, we can make it a comparative adjective changing -y to -i, then add the suffix -er.

easy → easier

funny → funnier

pretty → prettier

Type II: Superlative Adjectives

When we have a multisyllable 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 multisyllable 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

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: Type III

Irregular adjectives do not follow the rules we discussed earlier in this lesson. You have to memorize the comparative and superlative form of them.
In the table below, you can see the irregular adjectives in 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 the difficult than the second one .

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