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


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Submitted by alek sandra on Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:53

Hello! Should we always use the with superlatives? Best regards, Aleksandra

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 04/03/2015 - 07:04

In reply to by alek sandra


Hello Aleksandra,

In general, yes. There are some exceptions which you will see (such as the phrase 'Best of all...' at the beginning of a sentence) but this is a good rule of thumb.

Best wishes, [without 'the']



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lyulu on Tue, 24/02/2015 - 20:12

Hello, dear tutors! Could you please help me with the last sentence in the second test? Why don't we use "is " in the second version of the sentence, I mean can we say The smaller the fruit is, the sweeter it is? Why is it omitted? Is there a rule or something? Thank you in advance! Best regards, Lyuba

Hello Lyuba,

'The smaller the fruit, the sweeter it is' is indeed the correct answer. If you click on the Finish button, that is what you should see as the correct answer. Does that help you? If not, could you please rephrase your question?

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saly Simo on Fri, 19/12/2014 - 00:13

Can you help me ? Re-wite the following sentence using the words in brackets: Tom is the best pupil in the class. (No other pupil......)

Hello Saly Simo,

I'm afraid this is your own work to do! As I said in reply to your question on another page, we do not do users' homework or tests for them.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alfarouk on Sun, 16/11/2014 - 18:39

Which answer is correct? The tree forms a ring which presents a year of ......... Growth Growing Please, I see both of them are correct.

Hi alfarouk,

I would say that 'growth' is correct, but 'growing' might be correct in some specialist contexts.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Haytham Hawamdeh on Tue, 14/10/2014 - 21:31

I like the Activities above

Submitted by Med Chadli on Sun, 28/09/2014 - 12:28

It's an interesting lesson :)

Submitted by cyntia manenti on Fri, 26/09/2014 - 14:49

Great way to learn English!