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

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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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Angie Valverde… 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 19:36

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remember that for the comparative you add -er and that for the superlative you add -est but using the rules correctly.

Joselyn 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 18:57

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Quantifiers define a name and are always located in front of the name. Some can be used only with countable names, others only with uncountable names and others with both.

Jacqueline23 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 18:42

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The comparative is used in English to compare differences between the two objects it modifies(larger,faster,smaller) it is used in sentences where we compare two names. The superlative is used to describe an object that is at the top or bottom of a quality (the tallest, the smallest). used in sentences in which we compare a subject with a group of objects.

Andrés Arias Q. 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 16:52

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There's a lot of information about the correct from of adjectives to use comparatives and superlatives. You should remember the rules, for example: If an adjective ends in a vowel and a consonant, we double the consonant.

Vale 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 14:44

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It is very common to compare things using adjectives, for example: "That car is small but the other is smaller." These are called comparative adjectives. The superlative is an adjective that makes mention of something very large and out of the ordinary, with a maximum degree of excellence. Quantifiers in English many, much, some, any, no, none, a lot of, plenty of, few, little, enough, too, too many, too much, are words that help us quantify how much we have something a lot, little, lots, enough, too much

Carlos ortiz 提交于 周三, 25/03/2020 - 14:25

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A very good explanation. We should remember to do not use "more" with short adjetives, it's a common mistake, instead of that we need to practice and remember the rules to modify the adjetive.

raj.kumar123 提交于 周六, 21/03/2020 - 11:50

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Dear Sir/Ma'am, Hello. 'Snippet' is a noun. However, many people use it as an adjective also. The common expression I have come across a number of times is "a snippet view of something". For example, "This article gives a snippet view of the complex idea of secularism." Is it grammatically acceptable? Thanks. Raj.

Hello again Raj

I'm not familiar with this particular collocation. An internet search suggests that it may come from the app Evernote, but I'm not sure about that. It does sound grammatically correct to me. In English there are many noun + noun combinations, e.g. 'coffee pot', 'tea cup', 'swimming pool', and this seems to be a relatively new one.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Cathymini28 提交于 周五, 13/03/2020 - 09:31

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Hello, I'd like to know how to form the comparative form of the adjective "empty". The grammar rule says that for an adjective that ends with "Y" we need to change it into " IER" (eg happy=happier) However, I heard this morning on the radio "more empty than". Could you please tell me if "emptier than" would also have been possible? Thank you

Hello Cathymini28

You are correct in thinking that 'emptier' is a comparative form of the adjective 'empty', but it's also true that many people use 'more empty' sometimes.

It's great that you noticed this!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Cathymini28 提交于 周五, 13/03/2020 - 15:12

Cathymini28 回复

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Thank you Kirk! Best wishes. Cathy

Janaka Liayana… 提交于 周三, 25/12/2019 - 12:50

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Dear teacher, As I didn't get an answer for the question sent on 07 October, I would like to raise it again. thank you, What is the correct way bellow When we use comparative adjectives. 1. He is taller than I. 2. He is taller than me. 3. He is taller than I am. Thank you

Hello Janaka

For most people, all three of these are correct. As far as I know, no one would have any issue with 3, but there are some who prefer 2 to 1, and others who prefer 1 to 2. I usually use 2 or 3.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Risa warysha 提交于 周一, 02/12/2019 - 21:27

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hello Sir, Could you please tell me whether my sentences and the reasons are correct or not. ' she works harder than her late grandmother did.' ' The new car is more expensive than the old one was.' I used 'did' because it refers to my grandmother that has passed away and 'was' because the old car is broken or isn't used anymore. Thank you,Sir

Hello Risa warysha,

Both sentences are correct but we generally don't add the final verbs as they are understood from the sentence as a whole:

She works harder than her late grandmother.

The new car is more expensive than the old one.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

goodusername 提交于 周六, 26/10/2019 - 14:38

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hello, I have a problem with the adjective oversize: I got into an argument with a friend weather more oversize is a correct usage of the adjective or not. To me it seems to be already in a comparative form, so I really wanna know if it can be used like shown previously

Hello goodusername

It would be a bit unusual to say 'more oversized', but in some contexts it could probably work, for example, if you are comparing two oversized items and one is bigger than the other.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Backlight 提交于 周日, 20/10/2019 - 08:15

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Hello, May I ask these sentences are correct or not. 1) My friend is more careful than me. 2) My friend is careful than me. 3) My friend is carefully than I or me. 4) My friend is careful than I or me. 1 Until 4 is only using the comparative and in sentences 3 I know it was wrong but I still do not know why sentence 3 is wrong. Thank You in advance for answering my question.

Hello Backlight,

The first sentence is correct. The others are incorrect.

We use 'than' after comparative forms. In (2) and (4) you have normal adjectives, not comparative forms. In sentence (3) you have an adverb, not a comparative form.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Janaka Liayana… 提交于 周一, 07/10/2019 - 05:53

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Dear teacher, What is the correct way bellow When we use comparative adjectives. 1. He is taller than I. 2. He is taller than me. 3. He is taller than I am. Thank you

Hello Janaka Liayanapathirana

All three of these are correct. I would recommend you use 2 in informal or neutral situations. 1 and 3 are appropriate for formal situations.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Alicia Landeros 提交于 周日, 14/04/2019 - 06:18

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Hello everybody.... I´ve got a question, first of all I´ve been checking the use of adjectives (as comparatives, superlatives, adjective ends ED and ING), I understand what is the use of which of them, but I don´t know if those ones have any special rule to transform the "basic form" of the adjective into the others. For example: Shock - Shocker (I´m not sure if this is the correct form) - Shockest - Shocked - Shocking Horrible - More horrible - Most horrible - Horrified* - Horrifying* Does anybody know something about it? Thanks for all your support, the Learn English team makes a great job :)
Hello Alicia, Some of the rules are easy to remember, such as the ones on the page about forming comparatives and superlatives. Other rules are much less consistent, I'm afraid. The first thing you need to do is to identify the adjective. For example, 'horrible' is an adjective, but 'shock' is not - it is a verb or a noun. You also need to recognise different words. For example, 'horrified' and 'horrible' have difference meanings: horrible = very unpleasant (a characteristic) horrified = shocked in a very unpleasant way (an feeling/emotion) ~ I think the best advice I can give is for you to make clear notes as you learn vocabulary. As you build up more and more examples you will start to see the patterns instinctively rather than through applying many complex rules. This is how native speakers learn such things, after all. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

YSATO201602 提交于 周三, 06/03/2019 - 14:41

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Hello Sir I have a question about the usage of the superlatives. 1.) The “smallest” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. 2.) The “least” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. 3.) The “fewest” number of women spend their leisure time in playing computer games. Which sentence sounds natural to native speakers? I felt all of the three were correct, but some native speakers said that we don’t use “smallest” in this case. So I just want to ask you whether it is true or not. Thank you. Regards

Hello YSATO201602,

I think it's perfectly fine to use the smallest (or lowest) number of..., just as it is fine to use the biggest (or the highest, the greatest) number of...

The other two options sound rather strange to me. They are, of course, illogical as the superlative refers not to women but to number, and so least and fewesr are rather jarring. However, your question is about which are used and it is not uncommon for 'illogical' forms to come into use.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Mr. Peter M Thank you very much for your help! I could understand the difference quite clearly and I’d choose “smallest” or “lowest” in my writing! Best Regards YSATO201602
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Pratapsingh 提交于 周日, 24/02/2019 - 14:47

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Rita is more beautiful than ........ of her sisters. A. any other B. any C. some D. all Dear sir, I know the correct answer is 'all', but I want to know the reason why all is correct, why 'some' or 'any' is not correct

OlgaT 提交于 周一, 26/11/2018 - 15:07

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Hello, I can't find information about the degrees of comparison for the word "little" in use. It's an irregular adjective, is expected "less, (the) least". But in the expression, for example: "little girl" - how can we make comparative and superlative degrees? Basing on which grammar rules can it be explained to children?

Hello OlgaT,

The word 'little' has more than one meaning.

When we use it to describe quantity (a little time) then the progression is as you say: little > less > the least.

When we use it to describe size (a little girl) the progression is little > littler > the littlest.

However, littler/the littlest are considered non-standard by most speakers. The overwhelming majority avoid it and simply substitute smaller/the smallest

The alternatives (more litltle/the most little) are also used rarely and sound old-fashioned.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for the answer. Yes, it was about the second meaning of the word. I understand it's just a very special word that is substituted with synonyms when making comparative and superlative.

SajadKhan 提交于 周四, 12/07/2018 - 10:36

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Hi There, I have been learning here for almost two weeks, and it is my first comment here. I was going through the section "Adjectives- intensifiers with comparative and superlative". I read that "much" intensifier can be used with a superlative adjective but there was no example for it. Can you give me some example? "He is much the best in the field." is it correct? And also why is there no comment sections below some articles?

Hello SajadKhan,

Your example is correct. The phrase 'much the best' has a similar meaning to 'easily the best'. It's quite a formal phrasing.

Most pages have comments sections but some do not. Generally, these are pages which are abbreviated versions of other pages or pages which have relatively little information on them, if I remember correctly.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

SonuKumar 提交于 周二, 26/06/2018 - 09:52

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Sir, I've read it that If a noun requires more degree of an adjective, So we use the strong adjective to modify that noun rather than using the positive form of an adjective with the intensifier 'Very'. Like this: Very dirty to Filthy, Very Good to Excellent or Fantastic, Very bad to Awful and so on. Is it true or a widely followed rule and does the same apply for adverbs ? Like this: Very well to Excellently or Fantastically ?
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Kirk 提交于 周二, 26/06/2018 - 14:41

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Hi SonuKumar,

Strong adjectives are quite common, but people also use, for example, 'very dirty'. I'm afraid I can't really be much more specific than that, as what people say depends heavily on context and their own way of speaking. If you are writing for a teacher or an exam, strong adjectives, judiciously used, are probably going to impress your reader more, though I'm not sure that's what you're thinking of.

The same 'rule' (though I'm not sure I'd called it a rule, really) doesn't really apply to adverbs. These adverbs exist, for the most part, but are quite unusual.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir This sentence is from your website grammar' topic 'superlative' and I would like to know that usually the adjective elder, eldest is use among brothers and sisters in a family but not old and older. But this sentence ' I have three sisters, Jan is the oldest and Anjela is the youngest. My question is 'Jan is the eldest and Anjela is the youngest is the normal way of writing. I am I right? Thank you. Regards

Hi Lal,

'eldest' and 'oldest' mean exactly the same thing in this sentence. Traditionally, 'eldest' was probably more common than 'oldest', but I'd say both forms are used equally these days.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, to indicate that a person was born first than another we can use "older", To indicate was born after we can use "younger"

davidinh 提交于 周三, 03/01/2018 - 16:28

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Hi, There is an example in Longman dictionary as below: Women are more at risk from the harmful effects of alcohol than men. I tried to find out what its structure is, but I couldn't, especially "at risk from the harmful effects of alcohol" : What is its role? And how to find its role? I guess it's an adjective phrase. Is it right? If yes, why it's an adjective phrase? I can't find the theory to explain it in detail. Please show me how to understand the structure of above sentence. Thank you! Best, David
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Peter M. 提交于 周四, 04/01/2018 - 08:23

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Hi David,

'At risk of' is an example of a prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases can have adjectival or adverbial functions in the sentence. In this case it is adjectival.

If you want to analyse sentences for the functions of various parts then a good place to start is an online parsing tool. They are not perfect but are a good starting point. You can find many online, such as this one.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Darshan Sheth 提交于 周五, 04/09/2015 - 16:53

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Hello sir, Thanks for all the solutions. I just came across a sentence: "Hardly did the men start training than they were sent into battle." I found it grammatically incorrect because some authorities state that we cannot use "than" after "hardly", instead we use "when". Also, we cannot use "did/does/do" and have to use "had/has/have" with "hardly". what is your opinion? are these rules correct? but why? can we ever use future tense in these type of sentences and how?

Hello Darshan Sheth,

It is often possible to choose between the past simple and the past perfect in sentences with two actions in the past. This is because both can be used to show actions which occur in a sequence. The difference is that the past perfect also suggests some connection between the two actions: one causes the other, or influences the other in some way. Thus both of these are possible:

Hardly did the men start training than they were sent into battle.

Hardly had the men started training than they were sent into battle.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, But why 'than' because we are not comparing two things else there would have been a comparative adjective? also as per your reply that past perfect also shows some connection between the two actions, when shall we use 'when' in such sentences - after simple past or past perfect?