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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


Basic level


Hello Thelma,

Both of these are used in letters and emails and have a very similar meaning. They are semi-formal and quite common in modern English.

For more information on writing emails you might find this series useful.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the clear explanation, but please I have a question: when I need to use the comparative with "the" and why don't using the superlative with "the" in its place? I can not make the difference however; for me antil the moment the diffrence is that comparative with "the" finished by "er" but the superlative finish by"est", but I don't know the objective to use one of the two and why not use the other.

Thank you Mr Peter M for the explanation, it was the answer for my question and sorry for my humble English.
Best wishes,
mana chou.

Hello mana chou,

I'm not really sure what you mean here. We generally use the comparative to show differences between two items, and the superlative to distinguish one or more items from larger groups.

Here are John and Paul. Paul is the taller boy.

Here are John, Paul and Joe. Paul is the tallest boy.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.would you explain me In which situation we use inverse structure after than.I am very confused about these sentences:" Helen reads English better than I do"
"The Western part receives more rain than does the eastern part" with sincere thanks

Hello rastak keen,

Inversion after 'than' is used mostly in a very literary style – otherwise, the normal word order is used (and it is far more common). I'd recommend that you use the normal order in your own writing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team 

I would like to say that the distance between Madrid and London is larger than that between Madrid and Paris. So, I wonder whether the following sentence is correct:
- London is further than Paris to Madrid.

Thanks in advance

Hi zagrus,

You need to phrase the sentence quite carefully to make it clear what you are comparing. I would suggest the following:

London is further from Madrid than is Paris.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,
If I want to say the distance from London to Madrid is further than that between London and Paris, is this sentence correct: "London is further from Madrid than Paris"?
Is there another longer version for this the sentence: "London is further from Madrid than is Paris."? this structure seems a bit advanced.
Thank you

Hello Kaisoo93,

The sentence 'London is further from Madrid than Paris' is ambiguous.

It could mean that the distance from London to Madrid is greater than the distance from Paris to Madrid. Alternatively, it could mean that the distance from London to Madrid is greater than the distance from London to Paris.

Your alternative is fine.


To make each meaning clear, you can formulate the sentence like this:

London is further from Madrid than Paris is / London is further from Madrid than is Paris.

London is further from Madrid than it is from Paris.



The LearnEnglish Team