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Comparative and superlative adjectives

Level: beginner

Comparative adjectives

We use comparative adjectives to show change or make comparisons:

This car is certainly better, but it's much more expensive.
I'm feeling happier now.
We need a bigger garden.

We use than when we want to compare one thing with another:

She is two years older than me.
New York is much bigger than Boston.
He is a better player than Ronaldo.
France is a bigger country than Britain.

When we want to describe how something or someone changes we can use two comparatives with and:

The balloon got bigger and bigger.
Everything is getting more and more expensive.
Grandfather is looking older and older

We often use the with comparative adjectives to show that one thing depends on another:

The faster you drive, the more dangerous it is. 
(= When you drive faster, it is more dangerous.)

The higher they climbed, the colder it got. 
(= When they climbed higher, it got colder.)

Comparative adjectives 1


Comparative adjectives 2


Superlative adjectives

We use the with superlative adjectives:

It was the happiest day of my life.
Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
That’s the best film I have seen this year.
I have three sisters: Jan is the oldest and Angela is the youngest

Superlative adjectives 1


Superlative adjectives 2


How to form comparative and superlative adjectives

We usually add –er and –est to one-syllable words to make comparatives and superlatives:

old older oldest
long longer longest

If an adjective ends in –e, we add –r or –st:

nice nicer nicest
large larger largest

If an adjective ends in a vowel and a consonant, we double the consonant:

big bigger biggest
fat fatter fattest

If an adjective ends in a consonant and –y, we change –y to –i and add –er or –est:

happy happier happiest
silly sillier silliest

We use more and most to make comparatives and superlatives for most two syllable adjectives and for all adjectives with three or more syllables:

careful more careful  most careful
interesting more interesting  most interesting

However, with these common two-syllable adjectives, you can either add –er/–r and –est/–st or use more and most:


He is certainly handsomer than his brother.
His brother is handsome, but he is more handsome.
She is one of the politest people I have ever met.
She is the most polite person I have ever met.

The adjectives good, bad and far have irregular comparatives and superlatives:

good better best
bad worse worst
far farther/further  farthest/furthest
How to form comparative and superlative adjectives


Basic level



There is an example in Longman dictionary as below:

Women are more at risk from the harmful effects of alcohol than men.

I tried to find out what its structure is, but I couldn't, especially "at risk from the harmful effects of alcohol" : What is its role? And how to find its role?

I guess it's an adjective phrase. Is it right? If yes, why it's an adjective phrase?

I can't find the theory to explain it in detail. Please show me how to understand the structure of above sentence.

Thank you!

Hi David,

'At risk of' is an example of a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases can have adjectival or adverbial functions in the sentence. In this case it is adjectival.

If you want to analyse sentences for the functions of various parts then a good place to start is an online parsing tool. They are not perfect but are a good starting point. You can find many online, such as this one.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Is there any difference between ''The respected people went . . .'' and ''The people respected went . . . ?''

I know that there are ed-adjectives that can be used in both positions with a changing meaning. I could not find the list of these.

Thank you.

Hello JamlMakav,

The first phrase looks fine to me. The second does not look correct.

Some -ed forms can be used in participle phrases or as reduced relative clauses - see this page for some examples. That may be what you have in mind.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello once again,

Thank you for the answer. I am sorry that I confused you; I have a better example now: ''The responsible people'' and ''The people responsible.'' I remembered only this adjective, which changes the meaning when moved. Are there more of this type (dependent-on-position adjectives)?

Thank you.

Hello JamlMakav,

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with a list of adjectives like this, but you might want to read through the Cambridge Dictionary's page on Adjective position.

It also might be useful to search for pages on adjectives in 'attributive' or 'predicative' position -- these are the technical terms for position before a noun ('attributive') and after a link verb ('predicative'). This is a slightly different but related topic to what you're asking about here.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


The context is that Joe is being French even though he is not, and Sarah is using irony. The adjective isn't gradable, so how can she express what I mean?

Sarah to Joe: ''Can't you be more of French?''

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

If you take out 'of', the sentence will work. You could also change the verb to 'act' and it will also work (without 'of').

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again!!
I would like to ask whether the second "as" in the "" structure can be implied, when there are no modifiers, as well.
Eg. -"I thought Route 6 was the quickest way to get to the airport."
-"Jackson Boulevard can be as fast."

Jason is very energetic. Sonia isn't as/so energetic.

Thank you once again!!

Hello kelly,

Yes, you can leave out the second 'as' phrase. Your two sentences are correct. Good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team