Comparative and superlative adjectives

Learn about comparative and superlative adjectives and do the exercises to practise using them.

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

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Comparative adjectives 2

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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

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Superlative adjectives 2

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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:

common
cruel
gentle
handsome
likely
narrow
pleasant
polite
simple
stupid

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

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Submitted by LubNko525 on Sat, 29/08/2020 - 11:29

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Hi Sir, She is the youngest child ever to sail around the world. ----- How is it different from She was the youngest...? We are the first firm to have been given this award. vs We were the first firm to be given this award. - Is there any difference? Thanks
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 30/08/2020 - 08:10

In reply to by LubNko525

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Hi LubNko525,

In your first example, there is a difference. If you use the present tense (is) then we know that she is still the youngest child to have done this. If you use the past tense (was) then we do not know this; it is possible that someone younger than her sailed around the world later.

 

In your second example, there is no such ambiguity as being first is not something that can change; whoever was the first to do something remains the first for ever. Thus in this example there is no difference.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bug on Fri, 06/11/2020 - 07:41

In reply to by LubNko525

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"She is the youngest child" i think they added the word child to be more specific if it were just "She was the youngest" one could thinks shes a yound adult. "we are the first firm" is meaning now " we were the first firm" meaning in the past hope this help:)

Submitted by anssir66 on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 20:21

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"Proud" seems to be missing from the list of adjectives that can be compared both "more-most" and "er-est". You also could mention that there are one- or two-syllable adjectives that cannot be compared with "r-st", for example "prone".
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 21/06/2020 - 19:45

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It's really educative.

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 15:03

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Hi! The definition of an adjective is a word which describes a noun, while the definition of a verb is a word which describes an action. My question is why is it that when we say an adjective describes (i.e. an adjective is used to describe) a noun, we mean it to say that the adjective provides additional information about the noun, however when the word "describe" is used under the second definition (i.e. a verb describes an action), we mean it to say that the verb refers to the action (i.e. verb = action, for instance, the verb "run" refers to the action of running) and not a case where the verb provides additional information about the action, as what an adjective does for a noun. Are there two different meanings to the word "describe"? Regards, Tim
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 15:14

In reply to by Timothy555

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Hello Tim

This is an interesting question, and one that you could probably spend quite some time researching. While some teachers might use the word 'describe' -- I've checked, and this is indeed what the Cambridge Dictionary says, more analytical descriptions tend to use the word 'modify' instead of 'describe' -- for example, the Wikipedia article for Adjective. When we say 'modify', we're referring to a grammatical modifier, which you can read more about if you follow that last link.

This is not an area that we get into on LearnEnglish, I'm afraid, but I hope you find those sources helpful.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Timothy555 on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 14:05

In reply to by Kirk

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Hi Kirk, For the first link to Cambridge dicitonary, the link brings you to the page on "definition of verb". Did you in fact meant to provide the link to the page on the definition of an adjective, as in "https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/adjective" and not a verb? I had assumed that the links you provided are meant to compare between the definitions of an adjective
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 14:18

In reply to by Timothy555

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Hello Tim

Yes, you're right! I've just fixed the link so that it goes to the entry for 'adjective' rather than 'verb'.

Sorry for the confusion!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivian Sayuri Araki on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 14:44

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Why the consonant of the word 'new' is not duplicated, following the rule that says vowel + consonant we double the consonant?? Like 'new, newwer ,newwest' But the right ends up being new, newer newest

Submitted by Bambam. on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 00:26

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Comparatives:used to compare diferents between the two objects they modif(smaller,faster,higher).. Example My house is larger than hers Superlative:used to describe an object which is at the upper or lower limit of a quality(the tallest,the smallest, the fastest).... Example This is the smallest box I've ever seen

Submitted by Alexander. on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 20:16

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A quantifier is a word or phrase which is used before a noun to indicate the amount or quantity: 'Some', 'many', 'a lot of' and 'a few' are examples of quantifiers. Quantifiers can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

Submitted by Marco on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 01:46

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I think this is an excelent material, I clarified some questions that I had.

Submitted by Andy on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 01:40

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This helps me a lot to review the knowledge I have!

Submitted by IsaacAC on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 00:56

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The explanation was good but I would put some images to do the topic easier.

Submitted by Alonso Morales… on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 00:31

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The information obtained is very useful and helps a lot to better understand this topic of superlatives and comparatives

Submitted by Maria H.E on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 22:28

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this was a very useful information... it has complete information about how to use comparatives and superlatives in the correct way :)

Submitted by francini on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 21:24

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excellent explanation and very easy to understand. I would like to remember the most common mistake is using the superlative when there are only two items. For example: Incorrect: Mary was the tallest of the two girls. Correct: Mary was the taller of the two girls. When a word with three or more syllables is used as a comparative, –er and –est are typically not used, but rather “more” and “most” are used before the adverb.

Submitted by Diego Navarro on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 21:10

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thanks for the content it helped me a lot since this topic is very difficult for me.

Submitted by Erikacastillo on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 20:46

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An easy way to study the comparative and superlative form is: I did not forget it That the comparison is used to compare the differences between two objects We use that when we want to compare one thing with another: Angela's room is cleaner than Sue's. in the superlative we use it when we want to emphasize that the subject is at the upper or lower end of a quality. We use the with superlative adjectives: Angela's room is the cleanest. There are some rules to form the comparative and superlative. 1. For one-syllable adjectives: Superlative adds: "-est" the fastest Comparative: adds: "-er" faster 2. For one-syllable adjectives ending in "e": Superlative adds: "-st" best Comparative: add" -er nicer 3. For one-syllable adjectives ending in consonant vowel consonant: Superlative adds: consonant "-est" biggest Comparative:add: consonant "-er" hotter 4. For two syllable adjectives ending in "y": Superlative:replace "y" with: "-iest" happiest Comparative:replace " y" with: "-ier" funnier 5. For adjectives with two or more syllables: Superlative : adds: "the most" / "the least" Most beautiful Comparative : add: "more" / "less" more beautiful ,less beautiful

Submitted by Angioleth Rojas Mora on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 20:23

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It is simple the comparatives is to put and see the difference between two things example, the car is small but this one is smaller and the superlative is used to highlight a characteristic of an object, thing or animal example, your dog is the fastest in the race

Submitted by Dianajimenezvargas on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 20:10

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Good morning everyone, this topic is very important because it is where we are going to be able to compare things, we must be very careful when they are accountants and non-accountants, the practices found on this page are incredible. Thanks a lot. :)

Submitted by Yinia on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 19:46

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Comparative adjectives are used to compare a certain characteristic or quality between two or more things, animals or people Superlative adjectives express the maximum degree of a feature of an element relative to others in the same group or condition

Submitted by Seiris U on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 19:44

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thanks for the explanation and practice, it has helped me reinforce this topic, which can sometime be confusing.

Submitted by Angie Valverde… on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 19:36

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remember that for the comparative you add -er and that for the superlative you add -est but using the rules correctly.

Submitted by Joselyn on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 18:57

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Quantifiers define a name and are always located in front of the name. Some can be used only with countable names, others only with uncountable names and others with both.

Submitted by Jacqueline23 on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 18:42

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The comparative is used in English to compare differences between the two objects it modifies(larger,faster,smaller) it is used in sentences where we compare two names. The superlative is used to describe an object that is at the top or bottom of a quality (the tallest, the smallest). used in sentences in which we compare a subject with a group of objects.

Submitted by Andrés Arias Q. on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:52

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There's a lot of information about the correct from of adjectives to use comparatives and superlatives. You should remember the rules, for example: If an adjective ends in a vowel and a consonant, we double the consonant.

Submitted by Vale on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 14:44

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It is very common to compare things using adjectives, for example: "That car is small but the other is smaller." These are called comparative adjectives. The superlative is an adjective that makes mention of something very large and out of the ordinary, with a maximum degree of excellence. Quantifiers in English many, much, some, any, no, none, a lot of, plenty of, few, little, enough, too, too many, too much, are words that help us quantify how much we have something a lot, little, lots, enough, too much

Submitted by Carlos ortiz on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 14:25

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A very good explanation. We should remember to do not use "more" with short adjetives, it's a common mistake, instead of that we need to practice and remember the rules to modify the adjetive.

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 11:50

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Dear Sir/Ma'am, Hello. 'Snippet' is a noun. However, many people use it as an adjective also. The common expression I have come across a number of times is "a snippet view of something". For example, "This article gives a snippet view of the complex idea of secularism." Is it grammatically acceptable? Thanks. Raj.

Hello again Raj

I'm not familiar with this particular collocation. An internet search suggests that it may come from the app Evernote, but I'm not sure about that. It does sound grammatically correct to me. In English there are many noun + noun combinations, e.g. 'coffee pot', 'tea cup', 'swimming pool', and this seems to be a relatively new one.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Cathymini28 on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 09:31

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Hello, I'd like to know how to form the comparative form of the adjective "empty". The grammar rule says that for an adjective that ends with "Y" we need to change it into " IER" (eg happy=happier) However, I heard this morning on the radio "more empty than". Could you please tell me if "emptier than" would also have been possible? Thank you
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 11:36

In reply to by Cathymini28

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Hello Cathymini28

You are correct in thinking that 'emptier' is a comparative form of the adjective 'empty', but it's also true that many people use 'more empty' sometimes.

It's great that you noticed this!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Cathymini28 on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 15:12

In reply to by Cathymini28

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Thank you Kirk! Best wishes. Cathy

Submitted by Janaka Liayana… on Wed, 25/12/2019 - 12:50

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Dear teacher, As I didn't get an answer for the question sent on 07 October, I would like to raise it again. thank you, What is the correct way bellow When we use comparative adjectives. 1. He is taller than I. 2. He is taller than me. 3. He is taller than I am. Thank you

Hello Janaka

For most people, all three of these are correct. As far as I know, no one would have any issue with 3, but there are some who prefer 2 to 1, and others who prefer 1 to 2. I usually use 2 or 3.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Mon, 02/12/2019 - 21:27

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hello Sir, Could you please tell me whether my sentences and the reasons are correct or not. ' she works harder than her late grandmother did.' ' The new car is more expensive than the old one was.' I used 'did' because it refers to my grandmother that has passed away and 'was' because the old car is broken or isn't used anymore. Thank you,Sir
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 07:10

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hello Risa warysha,

Both sentences are correct but we generally don't add the final verbs as they are understood from the sentence as a whole:

She works harder than her late grandmother.

The new car is more expensive than the old one.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by goodusername on Sat, 26/10/2019 - 14:38

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hello, I have a problem with the adjective oversize: I got into an argument with a friend weather more oversize is a correct usage of the adjective or not. To me it seems to be already in a comparative form, so I really wanna know if it can be used like shown previously

Hello goodusername

It would be a bit unusual to say 'more oversized', but in some contexts it could probably work, for example, if you are comparing two oversized items and one is bigger than the other.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Backlight on Sun, 20/10/2019 - 08:15

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Hello, May I ask these sentences are correct or not. 1) My friend is more careful than me. 2) My friend is careful than me. 3) My friend is carefully than I or me. 4) My friend is careful than I or me. 1 Until 4 is only using the comparative and in sentences 3 I know it was wrong but I still do not know why sentence 3 is wrong. Thank You in advance for answering my question.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 21/10/2019 - 07:08

In reply to by Backlight

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Hello Backlight,

The first sentence is correct. The others are incorrect.

We use 'than' after comparative forms. In (2) and (4) you have normal adjectives, not comparative forms. In sentence (3) you have an adverb, not a comparative form.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Janaka Liayana… on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 05:53

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Dear teacher, What is the correct way bellow When we use comparative adjectives. 1. He is taller than I. 2. He is taller than me. 3. He is taller than I am. Thank you

Hello Janaka Liayanapathirana

All three of these are correct. I would recommend you use 2 in informal or neutral situations. 1 and 3 are appropriate for formal situations.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alicia Landeros on Sun, 14/04/2019 - 06:18

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Hello everybody.... I´ve got a question, first of all I´ve been checking the use of adjectives (as comparatives, superlatives, adjective ends ED and ING), I understand what is the use of which of them, but I don´t know if those ones have any special rule to transform the "basic form" of the adjective into the others. For example: Shock - Shocker (I´m not sure if this is the correct form) - Shockest - Shocked - Shocking Horrible - More horrible - Most horrible - Horrified* - Horrifying* Does anybody know something about it? Thanks for all your support, the Learn English team makes a great job :)
Hello Alicia, Some of the rules are easy to remember, such as the ones on the page about forming comparatives and superlatives. Other rules are much less consistent, I'm afraid. The first thing you need to do is to identify the adjective. For example, 'horrible' is an adjective, but 'shock' is not - it is a verb or a noun. You also need to recognise different words. For example, 'horrified' and 'horrible' have difference meanings: horrible = very unpleasant (a characteristic) horrified = shocked in a very unpleasant way (an feeling/emotion) ~ I think the best advice I can give is for you to make clear notes as you learn vocabulary. As you build up more and more examples you will start to see the patterns instinctively rather than through applying many complex rules. This is how native speakers learn such things, after all. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by YSATO201602 on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 14:41

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Hello Sir I have a question about the usage of the superlatives. 1.) The “smallest” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. 2.) The “least” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. 3.) The “fewest” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. Which sentence sounds natural to native speakers? I felt all of the three were correct, but some native speakers said that we don’t use “smallest” in this case. So I just want to ask you whether it is true or not. Thank you. Regards