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

One of my Khmer colleagues at work (SHE - NGO in Cambodia) studies English at a local college evening class. Her group has been asked to make a presentation on Comparative and Superlative adjectives and something called Equative adjectives. I have never heard of these and can't help her. Please can you explain what they are or give an example. I'm guessing it's how you make a comparison of things that appear to be 'equal'. Many thanks.

Hello Linda Vejlupkova,

This is not a term which I've ever seen used with reference to the English language. I can only assume it means adjectival forms which show the same degree, such as 'as big as'. However, I'm guessing as it's not a term I have seen used in an English language context.

This page may be helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks very much for your reply.

Hello!
Should we always use the with superlatives?

Best regards,
Aleksandra

Hello Aleksandra,

In general, yes. There are some exceptions which you will see (such as the phrase 'Best of all...' at the beginning of a sentence) but this is a good rule of thumb.

Best wishes, [without 'the']

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot!

Best wishes,
Aleksandra

Hello, dear tutors!

Could you please help me with the last sentence in the second test? Why don't we use "is " in the second version of the sentence, I mean can we say The smaller the fruit is, the sweeter it is? Why is it omitted? Is there a rule or something?

Thank you in advance!
Best regards,
Lyuba

Hello Lyuba,

'The smaller the fruit, the sweeter it is' is indeed the correct answer. If you click on the Finish button, that is what you should see as the correct answer. Does that help you? If not, could you please rephrase your question?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk!
Yes, I did see the correct answer. The question is, "Why don't we use 'is' there?" Why can't we say, "The smaller the fruit IS, the sweeter it is"? Why is the verb omitted?

Kind regards,
Lyuba

Hello Lyulu,

In English we often miss out certain words if they are obvious from the context and we think the sentence sounds better without them, or if including them would be repetitive. The name for this is ellipsis. You can find more information and examples of this here.

Note that it would be fine to include 'is' in the sentence, as you did in your example - that would be perfectly correct too.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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