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Comparatives and Superlatives in English


On this page, we look at the general rules for using comparatives and superlatives in English. First, here are some definitions:

  • Comparatives are adjectives (describing words) used to compare the difference(s) between two objects or subjects (nouns, in both cases) of discussion.

  • Superlatives are adjectives used to describe something which is at the limit of its quality, e.g. the biggest or smallest. Superlatives are used when describing one object (or subject) amongst or alongside a group of others.

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Now, here are some rules:

Rules for Comparatives

For adjectives with one syllable, simply add +er to the word to make the comparative

large +er = larger

small +er = smaller

big +er = bigger

tough +er = tougher

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For two or three-syllable adjectives, use the word 'more + adjective'

expensive → more expensive

honest → more honest

forceful → more forceful

graceful → more graceful

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UNLESS the two-syllable adjective ends in the letter 'y', remove the 'y' and add '-ier'

happy → happier

funny → funnier

pretty → prettier

petty → pettier

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Rules for Superlatives


For most superlatives, you can add +est

cold → coldest

sweet → sweetest

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Sometimes, the last letter will be doubled before adding +est

hot → hottest

thin → thinnest

sweet → sweetest

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For adjectives that end in 'y', you can drop the 'y' and add '+iest'

friendly → friendliest

pretty → prettiest

hungry → hungriest

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For comparatives with 'more' or 'less', the words change to 'most' and 'least'

Adjective

Comparative

Superlative

forceful

more forceful

most forceful

forceful

less forceful

least forceful

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Adjective

Comparative

Superlative

expensive

more expensive

most expensive

expensive

less expensive

least expensive

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Adjective

Comparative

Superlative

intelligent

more intelligent

most intelligent

intelligent

less intelligent

least intelligent

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Adjective

Comparative

Superlative

beautiful

more beautiful

most beautiful

beautiful

less beautiful

least beautiful

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