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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Basic level

Comments

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

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

Hello YSATO201602,

I think it's perfectly fine to use the smallest (or lowest) number of..., just as it is fine to use the biggest (or the highest, the greatest) number of...

The other two options sound rather strange to me. They are, of course, illogical as the superlative refers not to women but to number, and so least and fewesr are rather jarring. However, your question is about which are used and it is not uncommon for 'illogical' forms to come into use.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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
YSATO201602

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

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
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.

 

Peter

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.

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