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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 sir,
Sometimes we use "He is the taller of the two." and sometimes "He is the tallest of the two." Why?
And how will we use: "The taller/tallest of the two (brothers) is very good."

Hello Darshan Sheth,

This is an example of the language changing over time. It used to be the case that using the superlative (e.g. 'the tallest') was incorrect if talk about two items. However, this is changing. Many people no say 'the tallest of the two'. To me, personally, it still sounds strange, but it is quite common in everyday use.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

But sir as we are using 'the', we have to use the superlative. Is this any reason for this problem?

Hello Darshan Sheth,

We can use 'the' with many adjectives:

the young

the old

the older

the oldest

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

How are we supposed to make a sentence consisted of EVEN and a comparative?
He is shyer even than me.
Hei is even shyer than me.
Or any other form? I intend to imply that the aforementioned ME is so shy and the HE is even shyer.
Best regards, thank you in advance.

Hello solitude,

There are several possibilities. 'Even' a comparative means that it is more than something which is already a lot.

It costs more than this phone. [the price is higher]

It costs even more than this phone. [the price is higher, and the phone was already a lot]

In your example we would say:

He is even shyer than me. [I am shy, he is more]

But we could also say, with the same meaning:

He is shyer even than me.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

"Using the adjectives at the top, type the correct form into the gaps to complete the sentences." I cant comprehend this instruction at exercise Comparative 1 and it's subsequent instruction referring to 'the top'. Where s top ?

Hello Githuga,

We recently changed the format of our exercises, and these instructions no longer made sense. I've now fixed this. Thank you very much for alerting us to this problem – it's thanks to you that it is now corrected!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


Q1. The co-existence of 'the + adjective' e.g. 'the rich', 'the meek', 'the brave', 'the less fortunate', etc. is known as 'adjective as a noun'. Is its other name 'substantive adjective', 'collective adjective', both of them, or none of them? If it's none of them, kindly give its (other) name besides 'adjective as a noun'.

Q2. Can 'the + comparative degree' also function as 'adjective as a noun'? If yes, is it right to add that this applies only to gradable adjectives?
Examples: the poorer, the richer, the more beautiful, etc.

Q3. Can 'the + superlative degree' act as an 'adjective as a noun'? If yes, is it right to add that this applies only to gradable adjectives?
Examples: the greatest, the best, the richest, the most beautiful, etc.

Q4. Can 'the + nationality adjective' function as 'adjective as a noun'?
Examples: the British, the Chinese, etc.
Example sentence: The British have the most lucrative football league in the world.

Q5. Can 'the + the noun form (= plural) of nationality adjective' serve as 'adjective as a noun'?
Examples: the Nigerians, the Ghanaians, the Americans, the Brazilians, etc.
Example sentence: The Brazilians have great passion for football.

Q6. The co-existence of 'noun + noun', e.g. 'family doctor', 'sports club', 'child soldiers', 'women occupants', etc. has the first noun (= family, sports, child, women) modify the second noun (= doctor, club, soldiers, occupants).
Besides being called 'noun as an adjective', is the first noun (= family, sports, child, women) also called 'attributive noun', 'noun adjunct' or 'noun premodifier'; all of them, or none of them? If it's none of them, please give the (other) structural name(s) of the first noun.

Thanks a lot.

Hello value4education,

You've recently posted some very long and detailed questions such as the ones above. I'm afraid that you seem to have misunderstood our role here. Our primary purpose is to help users with questions and problems they have while using LearnEnglish. Although we occasionally answer other questions, we are simply too small a team with too much work to be able to answer these kinds of comments.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team