Comparative and superlative adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used to compare differences between the two objects they modify (larger, smaller, faster, higher).

  • My house is larger than hers.
  • This box is smaller than the one I lost.
  • Jim and Jack are both fast, but Jack is faster. (“than Jim” is understood)

Superlative adjectives are used to describe an object which is at the upper or lower limit of a quality (the tallest, the smallest, the fastest, the highest). They are used in sentences where a subject is compared to a group of objects.

  • My house is the largest one in our neighborhood.
  • This is the smallest box I have.
  • Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth

Forming comparatives and superlatives depends on the number of syllables in the original adjective.

One syllable adjectives

Add -er for the comparative and -est for the superlative. If the adjective has a consonant + single vowel + consonant spelling, the final consonant must be doubled before adding the ending.

talltallerthe tallest
fatfatterthe fattest
bigbiggerthe biggest
sadsadderthe saddest
Two syllables

Adjectives with two syllables can form the comparative either by adding -er or by preceeding the adjective with more. These adjectives form the superlative either by adding -est or by preceeding the adjective with most. In many cases, both forms are used, although one usage will be more common than the other. If you are not sure whether a two-syllable adjective can take a comparative or superlative ending, play it safe and use more and most instead.

For adjectives ending iny change to an ibusy ➣ busier ➣ the busiest

happyhappierthe happiest
cleverclevererthe cleverest
whitewhiterthe whitest
Three or more syllables

Adjectives with three or more syllables form the comparative by putting more in front of the adjective, and the superlative by putting most in front.

importantmore importantthe most important
expensivemore expensivethe most expensive

Irregular comparatives and superlatives

These very common adjectives have completely irregular comparative and superlative forms.

goodbetterthe best
badworsethe worst
littlelessthe least
muchmorethe most
farfurther / fartherthe furthest / farthest
  • Today is the worst day I’ve had in a long time.
  • Your painting is better than mine.
  • This is the least expensive sweater in the store.
  • This sweater is less expensive than that one.
  • His house is far from town, but her house is even farther.

reference: English for Life Pre-Intermediate Oxford

Make sentences comparing the two elements:

exampleDogs are friendlier than cats

MAKE SENTENCES in the superlative:

exampleMaths is the worst school subject

Read the lesson and make the exercises



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