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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



I would like to know if comparative adjectives can be used to compare the differences between two or more nouns?

Also, since superlative adjectives convey the idea of "most", can it be used with plural nouns such as "the smartest students" or the "the most beautiful people" etc instead of simply "the smartest boy (singular noun)"? I am asking this because the use of superlatives to convey the idea of "most" also seems to suggest that the noun being referred to is unique and single in that aspect; however I've certainly seen cases such as "the smartest students" - in this case, am i referring to perhaps out of a group of 100 students, for instance, john, marry and elsa are the smartest students (i.e. "the smartest" refers to this group of 3 students out of the entire cohort of 100 students?)


Hello Tim,

To answer your second question first, yes, superlatives can and are used in the way you describe. It's completely correct to do so.

As for your first question, comparative adjectives can be used to compare different plural nouns, e.g. 'The red roses are smaller than the yellow or pink ones'. If that's not what you had in mind, please provide a specific example.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


I need to know what is the difference between high, long and tall?

Hello Adels,

I'd suggest you look up these words in the dictionary to begin with; this article might also be helpful. Then if you have a more specific question, please feel free to ask us.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Greetings Kirk,

My name's Frank_ a newer registrar- and I was extremely excited to find this site. It has been so helpful!

I have a problem here: what's the difference between tallest and highest?
For example, Everest is the tallest mountain in the world...Everest is the highest mountain in the world.

Thank you,

Hello Frank,

First of all, welcome! Normally we use 'high' with mountains and 'tall' with people, so 'the highest mountain' is the correct form here. There is no real reason for this -- it's just the way these words have come to be used by English speakers. Words that go together like this are called 'collocations'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am not able to understand the following statements.
Tom's feelings were no less lasting than lively.
Does it mean that Tom feelings are more lasting than lively?

Hello neh7272,

Generally speaking, we do not provide explanations of sentences from elsewhere as it is necessary to know the context in which language is used and a sentence may appear incorrect but be a deliberately non-standard form, for example.

This sentence can be rephrased as follows:

Tom's feelings were no less lasting than lively = Tom's feelings were not more lively than they were lasting.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Which is the correct form : climate change or climatic change ?

Hello Petals,

Both forms are correct. 'climate change', which is a noun + noun compound noun (similar to 'swimming pool' or 'bedroom'), is very commonly used nowadays to refer to the global issue of changes in the climate around the world. 'climatic change' uses the adjective 'climatic' and means pretty much the same thing, though I'd say it tends to be used to talk about more specific instances of such changes (rather than the global changes).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team