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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


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


Is it correct to use 'a' instead of 'the' before a superlative. Recently, happened to read a sentence, "This is a best practice which must be followed elsewhere". The use of 'a' before 'best' is causing confusion. Please help.

Hello Adya's,

'best practice' is a common collocation, which means that 'best' isn't really a normal superlative here. It's as if 'best practice' were a noun by itself, so the general rule that 'the' is used before a superlative doesn't apply.

Please be sure to search for words and phrases in the dictionary before you ask us about them, as sometimes you will find your answers there.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

You will remember me as much as you forget me Or The more you forget me the more you will remember me, is there any difference between them and which is more appropriate and acceptable ?