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 AydaChan2003 on Fri, 20/01/2023 - 09:30

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Hello. Good morning sir/ma'am. This question has been bugging me lately.. Which one is correct? 1.he's the cleverest of *all the other* students.
2.he's the cleverest of *the other students*
Or are they both correct??

Hello AydaChan2003,

They're both OK, though I think people would probably say 1 more often than 2.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello AydaChan2003,

Both are grammatically correct and any difference would depend on the context in which they are used.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir!
Could you please elaborate on what types of context? Also I have a vocabulary question.. I'm fairly new here and I don't know whether there's a separate page for asking vocabulary questions; is there really one? If there's not, then I might as well ask it here (sorry I know this isn't related to the subject but I got to know this) what's the difference between deadly, lethal, and fatal?

Hello AydaChan2003,

It's really a question of emphasis. 'All' adds rhetorical emphasis so if you want to make your statement stronger (e.g. when making a speech or trying to persuade someone of something) then it might be useful.

The main difference in the words is that fatal means someone died. Deadly and lethal can also describe potential - in other words they can also describe something is extremely dangerous. Thus, I could say 'It was a truly deadly situation and I was lucky to escape alive' but I could not use the word 'fatal' there.

There are some other differences in use, so you can talk about a deadly/lethal poison, for example, or use the words metaphorically to mean that someone is very good at performing a task: a footballer can be lethal in front of goal, or a lawyer can be deadly during cross-examination.

For differences like this, which are really about use rather than meaning, the best thing is to look each word up in an online dictionary, where you'll be able to compare the different entries.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir! Oh my God that was the BEST explanation I've ever seen; thanks a lot!!! I had looked up their differences before but still couldn't distinguish each separately but now with your awesome explanation, I can! Once again, thanks a lot! May God bless you 🙏

Submitted by cooler48 on Mon, 26/12/2022 - 11:55

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Hi Jonathan
Fewer and smaller are comparative (forms)of inferiority ,aren't they?

Submitted by paddyjosy on Thu, 24/11/2022 - 17:01

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Hello Team .
The sentences
He can run faster than me .
or He can run faster than I .
Which is the correct usage?

I can run faster than he or
I can run faster than him .
Which is the correct usage?
Kindly guide. Thanks.

Hello paddyjosy,

The standard use is 'me' and 'him'. After 'than' we use an object pronoun not a subject pronoun.

You may find some instances where some users prefer 'I' as they interpret the sentence to be 'He can run faster than I can run', but this is very much a minority view.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello paddyjosy,
(than) actually considered as a proposition in modern English. As a result, we use after than a pronoun in object form (for example: me, you, him, her, us, them, and whom)

Submitted by paddyjosy on Sat, 19/11/2022 - 01:18

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Hi .
This is regarding the use of the adjective' late 'in the comparative and superlative degrees.
Some sources have mentioned it as later and latest (time)or latter and last (position).
Can u kindly explain it with example sentences.
Thanks.

Hello paddyjosy,

'Later' refers to time. It is often used as an adverb: See you later!

When used as an adjective it is the opposite of 'earlier': Do you want to go to the earlier performance or the later one?

'Latest' means the most recent: Have you heard the latest news? / I just bought her latest novel. It's great!

 

As you say, 'latter' is most often used to refer to the second item when two are mentioned. Its opposite is 'former': Would you prefer tea or coffee? > The latter, please.

'Latter' can also refer to the something occurring nearer to the end of something than the beginning: The latter part of the century was more stable / In his latter years he suffered from heart disease.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Peter.
It was helpful.
But is there a comparative and superlative degree for the adjective 'late'?

Hello again paddyjosy,

The comparative and superlative forms of 'late' are later and latest.

'Latter' does not have comparative or superlative forms. There is an adverb (latterly) which is a formal synonym for recently.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks once again for the prompt reply Peter.
It's really confusing though that 'later' means afterwards and 'latest' means the most recent ,hence a change in meaning all together.

Hello Peter
Is this usage correct ?
No other programme is as late as ours.
Our performance is later than all other programmes .
Other programmes are the latest.

Hello paddyjosy,

Yes, the use of the different forms of 'late' are all correct in these sentences. I might suggest 'The latest programmes are other ones' for the last sentence because 'latest' meaning 'most recent' is more common than the meaning that refers to time, but your sentence would be fine in context and in any case is grammatically correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Roman... on Sun, 23/10/2022 - 17:06

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Hello. In this sentence
"Lisa is the........of the two sisters" the choices were "1.young 2.more young 3.as young as 4.younger" So I believe there's no correct answer of them because that's a superlative case not comparative as the "two sisters" is the whole group therefore "Lisa" isn't compared with the other sister but preferred over the whole group "the other sister" and the usage of "the" before the adjective and "of" after it means it's superlative and a colleague of mine think it's just comparative because they are only "two sisters" so my question is "Is it acceptable to use the preposition 'of' after the comparative form of adjective?". Thanks in advance.

Hi Roman...

Yes, you could say "Lisa is the youngest of the two sisters". However, it may be considered non-standard and incorrect. A more standard answer would be to say "Lisa is the younger of the two sisters". As there are only two sisters and one is compared with the other, it is a comparative case. Yes, it is fine to use "the + comparative adj. + of" if there are exactly two things being compared.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tmaryna on Thu, 20/10/2022 - 07:41

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Hi. Could please explain me whether adjectives that already mean the quality in its highest degree can be used with comparative and superlative degrees? For example, excellent. The word excellent already means 'extremely good'. So can it be used with degrees of comparison? Can somthing be more excelllent, the most excellent? And there some other adjectives such as superb, gorgeous, wonderful etc. Thank you.

Hello tmaryna,

Yes, it's possible to use modifiers such as 'most' or 'absolutely' with many extreme adjectives such as 'excellent', and there are certainly many examples of this in speaking and writing. But I would recommend not doing this frequently in your writing or speaking, as too much use of these forms can give a poor impression and undermine your message.

You might find the explanation on our Adjectives – gradable and non-gradable page useful; it gives a few more examples.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aramis Soto on Wed, 28/09/2022 - 00:47

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Greetings, team!

I have a question about the use of the word "less" in comparatives for monosyllabic adjectives in certain contexts, for example:

--Now that the AC is on, the room feels less hot than before.
--I feel less happy nowadays than when I was a teenager.

Is it possible to express this, or should it be changed for a more 'accurate' means of expression?

Hello Aramis Soto,

Both of these sentences are fine. I'm not sure why, but I think most native speakers tend to negate the verb rather than use 'less' in statements such as these.

In other words, instead of these two sentences, I'd probably say 'the room isn't as hot as before' and 'I don't feel as happy nowadays as I did when I was a teenager'.

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with the two statements that you ask about.

I hope that answers your question, but if not, please ask again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by g-ssan on Wed, 06/07/2022 - 01:48

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I would to thank all amazing teacher here , they are doing a great work and fantastic job and if they allow me i have two question :
Q1 : can anyone explain to me in the word cleaner why we don’t double the letter n according to the grammar because it’s end with vowel and consonant letters .
Q2 :can we add more and most to single syllable adjectives?.

Hello g-ssan,

We're glad you find our site helpful!

Regarding your first question, you have to consider the last three letters of the adjective (in this case, 'ean'). If they are consonant, vowel, consonant, then we typically double the final consonant. But in the case of 'clean', we have vowel, vowel, consonant instead of consonant, vowel, consonant and therefore the correct spelling is 'cleaner'.

As for your second question, in general, no, we don't use 'more' or 'most' with one syllable adjectives. There are some exceptions to this (for example, we don't say 'funner', but rather 'more fun'), but people don't do this with most one-syllable adjectives; typically say 'more clean', 'more big', etc.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I recently presented a MOC test for a certification, and in one of the Academic Readings, I found a paragraph that said:
The most, moist air there is, ……..
And I thought to my self : Is that possible?
Would it be : The warmer ?
Hope you can help me please, as I was looking for an answer in several books and dictionaries but I couldn’t find any reference for: warm, where said, it could be used with er / or more

Hello Gilly,

Are you asking what word should go in the gap? I'm afraid it's difficult for me to say without knowing a bit more. And is there really a comma between 'most' and 'moist'?

In any case, we usually say 'warmer' rather than 'more warm', but the latter isn't wrong.

I'm sorry I can't help you more with this, but I don't really understand what the task is here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your good question.the answer is simply we double the last letter only with words that have one syllable with a short vowel in .such as thin fat big while clean has a long vowel.

Submitted by jayashan_b on Sat, 25/06/2022 - 15:43

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Could someone please explain to me why worse is used here?
my cold is definitely worse this morning.

Hello jayashan_b,

I understand this to mean 'Compared to yesterday or last night, the symptoms of my cold are worse.' Perhaps the person is coughing more or their nose is more congested, for example. The word 'cold' is a noun here (illness).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Faii on Fri, 06/05/2022 - 08:25

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Hi Sir
Could you please help me with these following examples ?Are both of them correct?

1.There house is no bigger than ours
2.There house is not bigger than ours
Another question-Can we use "far" instead of "a lot" with comparatives?Like instead of saying "I feel a lot better ", can we use this one "I feel far better "?

Hello Faii,

Please note that in both sentences 'There' is not correct -- it should be 'Their' -- but 'is no bigger' and 'is not bigger' are both correct. 'is no bigger' is another way of saying 'isn't any bigger' and suggests the two houses are roughly the same size. 2 just says their house is not bigger; it could mean they are the same size or that theirs is smaller.

Yes, you can also use 'far' with comparative adjectives to intensify the adjective. You can read about this and other intensifiers on the Intensifiers page, the next page in this section.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 14:18

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Hello, Sir.
I was wondering what the differences between "the best" and "best" are.
1. Vegetables are best for your health.
2. Vegetables are the best for your health.
3. Vegetables are best food for your health.
4. Vegetables are the best food for your health.
I wanted to know if the 4 sentences are right. Is it possible to form the superlatives without "the"?
Thank you for your precious time.
Best Wishes!

Hello Sokhom,

We always use 'the' when the superlative ('best') is followed by a noun:

This is the best book I've ever read! ['the' because there is a noun ('book']

Thus, sentence 3 is incorrect and sentence 4 is correct.

 

Sentences 1 and 2 are both acceptable and there is no difference in meaning in this context

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abhay on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 14:01

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Hello sir,

First of all thank you team for helping us.

Please clarify following question
My confusion about this question:
In the third option i.e. —
“none shows more”
should be replaced with
"no other animal shows"

Then the sentence will be correct as in comparative degree “NO OTHER THAN ” will be a better choice.

Question is given below:

Direction: In the sentence identify the segment which
contains the grammatical error.

Cows are amongst the gentlest of animals; none shows more passionate tenderness towards their young ones.

1. the gentlest of animals

2. Cows are amongst

3. none shows more

4. towards their young

Hello abhay,

The error here is one of verb agreement. 'None' refers to 'animals' and so the verb needs to be plural; 'shows' is singular.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 15/11/2021 - 07:34

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Hello. Could you please help me? Is the following sentence correct? If so, what is its meaning? I feel that it's meaningless!
- My car is less small than yours.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In most situations, that would be wrong -- instead, you could say 'My car is smaller than yours'.

In certain informal contexts, though, native speakers might say something like this. For example, if two friends are comparing their two different cars and in theory both cars have the same space inside them but one friend wants to say her car feels bigger than her friend's car, she could say this.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by giangnguyen.tlgt on Wed, 20/10/2021 - 19:11

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Dear Sir,
"City breaks are more popular with tourists than with locals."
Can I use "with" after "than" in this case?
Thanks!

Hello giangnguyen.tigt,

Yes, you can use '...than with...' as well as just '...than...'

As the second 'with' is implied there's no need to repeat it, but it's fine to include it. It's really a stylistic choice.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nevı on Fri, 13/08/2021 - 21:23

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Hi there again fantastic team! I am writing to find out more about following sentence "Doctors said patients infected with Delta appear to become ill more quickly." I wonder if the part "infected with Delta'' is heavy adjective phrase so it comes after the noun -patients-? Like, for example, /information necessary to understand the issue\ 'necessary to understand the issue' is heavy adjective phrase. I would be grateful if you could clear up my confusion. Best wishes!

Hello Nevi,

I think the best way to understand the sentence is as a reduced relative clause:

...patients who are infected with DELTA....

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hmm. For example, Europeans who wanted a better life immigrated to the U.S. Europeans wanting a better life immigrated to the U.S. 'wanting a better life' is a reduced relative clause. I haven't known there are another type of reduced relative clauses like you said "... patients who are infected with Delta ...." 'patients infected with Delta" Could you please explain to me what kind of reduced relative clauses in English grammar. I'd really appreciate it.