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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



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....



The LearnEnglish Team

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.

Hello Nevi,

Not all grammarians use the term 'reduced relative clause' for examples like these, preferring to describe them as 'participle phrases'. As this name implies, they are headed by a participle and this can be a present participle (-ing form) or a past participle (third form of the verb).


The difference is that the -ing form has an active meaning (in your example: who want > wanting) while the third form has a passive meaning (in the original example: who are infected > infected).


There is a good summary on the relevant wikipedia page:



The LearnEnglish Team

Got that. But you said
... people who are infected with Delta... has a passive meaning.

Who or what infected people?
People are infected with Delta by who?

Thank you in advance.

Hello Nevi,

A person can be infected by a virus. However, I didn't say that it was a passive verb form; I said that it has a passive meaning. In other words the participle represents something that happens to the subject (the person is infected) rather than something that the subject does (the person wants something).

As I mentioned, the term 'reduced relative clause' is not one which is universally accepted. You can find it in traditional grammars but many modern grammars prefer to avoid it, and one of the reasons is because it can lead to ambiguity of this kind.



The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please explain the difference and the usage of the two sentences?
1.Banarasi Dupattas have their roots deep in the rich culture of India (adjective---deep here acting as a predicative adjective).
2.Banarasi Dupattas have their deep roots in the rich culture of India (adjective---deep here acting as an attributive adjective).
Is the meaning same in the two sentences or different? Is it possible to always have the same meaning with other adjectives even when we interchange them?

Hi Mussorie,

The meaning is only slightly different. In sentence 2, deep clearly describes roots. But in sentence 1, it doesn't, because it's very unusual to put deep directly after the noun it is intended to describe (it's normally put before the noun, in attributive position). Somebody reading sentence 1 will interpret deep as referring to in the rich culture of India, not to roots. So, we need to clarify what the writer intends to describe with the word deep.


I should also point out that in sentence 1, deep is not properly called a predicative adjective, because a predicative adjective needs to follow a copula verb (e.g. Their roots are deep). Adjectives that follow a noun directly (without a copula verb) are called postpositive adjectives. There are not many of them, and they mostly occur in fixed phrases (e.g.: the manager responsible / persons unknown / the attorney general), or after pronouns (e.g. something interesting) or superlatives (e.g. the best option available).


Most adjectives can be put in either attributive or predicative position, with no change in meaning (e.g. an expensive restaurant / the restaurant is expensive). Some adjectives can be put in attributive position only (e.g. mere) or in predicative position only (e.g. afraid).


I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Jonathan
I got it, but I need some clarification about sentence 1.
Here, in this case, is the "deep" adjective? If yes, then it is a prepositive adjective, right.
In this case, if deep is modifying the rich culture of India, then how it is used.

Hi Mussorie,

No, in sentence 1 deep is actually an adverb. It’s at the head of the adverb phrase deep in the rich culture of India. This whole phrase modifies have their roots.


The LearnEnglish Team