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Comparative and Superlatives for Beginners

Beginning Grammar

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We use the comparative and superlative form to compare and contrast different objects in English. The comparative and the superlative form are very similar and follow the same rules for which type of adjectives to change with 'more' or 'the most', adding 'er' or the ... 'est' and so on. As you learn these forms, make sure to compare each form and note the similarities in forms and structures.

Use the comparative form to show the difference between two objects.

Example:

New York is more exciting than Seattle.

Use the superlative form when speaking about three or more objects to show which object is 'the most' of something.

Example:

New York is the most exciting city in the USA.

Here is a chart showing how to construct the comparative form in English. Notice in the example sentences that we use 'than' to compare the two objects:

One Syllable Adjectives

add '-er' to end of the adjective (Note: double the final consonant if preceded by a vowel) remove the 'y' from the adjective and add 'ier'

Example: cheap - cheaper / hot - hotter / high - higher

Yesterday was hotter than today.
This book is cheaper than that book.

Two Syllable Adjectives Ending in '-y'

Example: happy - happier / funny - funnier

I am happier than you.
That joke was funnier than his joke.

Two, Three or More Syllable Adjectives

place 'more' before the adjective

Example: interesting - more interesting / difficult - more difficult

London is more expensive than Madrid.
This test is more difficult than the last test.

Here is a chart showing how to construct the superlative form in English:

One Syllable Adjectives

place 'the' before the adjective and add '-est' to end of the adjective (Note: double the final consonant if preceded by a vowel)

Example: cheap - the cheapest / hot - the hottest / high - the highest

Today is the hottest day of the summer.
This book is the cheapest I can find.

Two, Three or More Syllable Adjectives

place 'the most' before the adjective

Example: interesting - the most interesting / difficult - the most difficult

London is the most expensive city in England.
That is the most beautiful painting here.

Two Syllable Adjectives Ending in '-y' place 'the' before the adjective and remove the 'y' from the adjective and add 'iest'

Example: happy - the happiest / funny - the funniest

New York is the noisiest city in the USA.
He is the most important person I know.

IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS

There are some important exceptions to these rules. Here are two of the most important exceptions:

good

  • good - adjective
  • better - comparative
  • the best - superlative

Example Sentences

This book is better than that one.
This is the best school in the city.

bad

  • bad - adjective
  • worse - comparative
  • the worst - superlative

Example Sentences

His French is worse than mine.
This is the worst day of my life.

More beginner's Topics

Related Video
Learn ESL: Beginner's Guide to Superlatives
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