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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

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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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Comments

Hi there fabulous team,

I made some inferences to understand the world of adjectives.
I would be grateful if you could check whether they are true.

-Melting glaciers can cause big floods. (the adj. melting is comes from the verb 'to melt' )

-The recorded sound is excellent.
(the adj. recorded is comes from the verb 'to record'.

-The team found fossilised dinosaur bones.
(the adj. fossilised is comes from the verb 'to fossilise'.)

-It's a nature reserve and a protected area.
(the adj. protected is comes from the verb 'to protect')

-A hospital that can adapt to changing needs.
(the adj. changing is comes from the verb 'to change')

I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes!

Hi Nevı,

Yes! All these sentences are correct :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

You've been really helpful, teacher.

However, I always look at the end of the page on the link I copied when I want to understand where the words come from.

For example;
https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/melting

Is it useful to understand the word's family, teacher ?

Hi Nevı,

Yes, in my opinion it seems useful! But you are the best person to decide whether it is useful for you, based on whether it gives you the information you are looking for, how clear it is, how easy it is to use, etc. 

For word families, here is another resource you can try out: British Council's Word Family Framework. If you search for a word (e.g. melting), it will show you other words in the same word family.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there brilliant team!
I am confused about one thing about participle adjective.

I saw that sentence
' I am well prepared for the fight.

Is' prepared' past participle as an adjective?
If it is, it should have passive meaning. So who prepared me? Because I received the action.

I would be grateful if you could explain it to me.

Best wishes.

Hi Nevi,

Many adjectives have the same form as the past participle but function in the same way as any other adjective. For example, 'well-travelled' has no passive meaning; it is used in the same way as any other adjective:

a happy woman

a nice woman

a well-travelled woman

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I was wondering if you could help me identify these two sentences.

1. She is one of the politest people I have ever met.
2. She is one of the politest people I haven't met before.

I still can't get them right. Thank you.

Hi Kunthea,

Actually, both sentences make sense, but they have different meanings. The first one means that you have met her, and the second one means that you haven't met her. The first one seems the more likely situation.

You could use a negative verb with a meaning similar to sentence 1 if you say something like this:

  • I've never met anyone as polite as she is.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teacher!

So the second one means I never meet her face to face, right? In this situation I'm just talking with someone else. But she is mentioned in a talk. Is that right, teacher?

Thank you,
Kunthea

Hi Kunthea,

The second one means you've never met her before (note the present perfect here, not present simple). Yes, that's right - it may be that somebody is telling you about a person that you haven't met. But, in this situation, I think it would be unusual to make the judgement that "She is one of the politest people", since you don't have the personal experience of meeting and talking to her. A more common thing to say might be "She sounds very polite", or "I've never met anyone that polite".

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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