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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



Dear Mr. Peter M

Thank you very much for your help! I could understand the difference quite clearly and I’d choose “smallest” or “lowest” in my writing!

Best Regards

Rita is more beautiful than ........ of her sisters.
A. any other
B. any
C. some
D. all
Dear sir,
I know the correct answer is 'all', but I want to know the reason why all is correct, why 'some' or 'any' is not correct

Hello Pratapsingh

I would say that B, C and D are all grammatically correct.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I can't find information about the degrees of comparison for the word "little" in use.
It's an irregular adjective, is expected "less, (the) least".
But in the expression, for example:
"little girl" - how can we make comparative and superlative degrees?
Basing on which grammar rules can it be explained to children?

Hello OlgaT,

The word 'little' has more than one meaning.

When we use it to describe quantity (a little time) then the progression is as you say: little > less > the least.

When we use it to describe size (a little girl) the progression is little > littler > the littlest.

However, littler/the littlest are considered non-standard by most speakers. The overwhelming majority avoid it and simply substitute smaller/the smallest

The alternatives (more litltle/the most little) are also used rarely and sound old-fashioned.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for the answer.
Yes, it was about the second meaning of the word.
I understand it's just a very special word that is substituted with synonyms when making comparative and superlative.

Hi There,
I have been learning here for almost two weeks, and it is my first comment here. I was going through the section "Adjectives- intensifiers with comparative and superlative". I read that "much" intensifier can be used with a superlative adjective but there was no example for it. Can you give me some example?
"He is much the best in the field." is it correct?
And also why is there no comment sections below some articles?

Hello SajadKhan,

Your example is correct. The phrase 'much the best' has a similar meaning to 'easily the best'. It's quite a formal phrasing.

Most pages have comments sections but some do not. Generally, these are pages which are abbreviated versions of other pages or pages which have relatively little information on them, if I remember correctly.



The LearnEnglish Team

I've read it that If a noun requires more
degree of an adjective, So we use the
strong adjective to modify that noun rather
than using the positive form of an adjective
with the intensifier 'Very'.

Like this: Very dirty to Filthy, Very Good to
Excellent or Fantastic, Very bad to Awful and
so on.

Is it true or a widely followed rule and does
the same apply for adverbs ?
Like this: Very well to Excellently or
Fantastically ?

Hi SonuKumar,

Strong adjectives are quite common, but people also use, for example, 'very dirty'. I'm afraid I can't really be much more specific than that, as what people say depends heavily on context and their own way of speaking. If you are writing for a teacher or an exam, strong adjectives, judiciously used, are probably going to impress your reader more, though I'm not sure that's what you're thinking of.

The same 'rule' (though I'm not sure I'd called it a rule, really) doesn't really apply to adverbs. These adverbs exist, for the most part, but are quite unusual.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team