23 March 2009

Grammar: Comparative and Superlative Adjectives (Part I)

As a review for those in my Monday evening class, here is a quick overview of the comparative and superlative adjectives.

There are basically 4 categories of adjectives you need to know to form the comparative and superlative.

1. One syllable adjectives (big, small, fast, etc…)
2. Two syllable adjectives ending in –y (sunny, windy, etc..)
3. Two syllable or more adjectives (interesting, experienced, etc..)
4. Irregular adjectives (good, bad, far)

Take a look at this chart for forming both the comparative and the superlative.

Comparative Form (-er)

Superlative Form (-est)

1. one syllable

big → bigger (*in short adjectives ending in a vowel and consonant, double the consonant before adding -er) small → smaller fast → faster

The article ‘the’ is necessary before a superlative adjective! big → the biggest small → the smallest fast → the fastest

2. two syllables ending in -y

It is necessary to change the ‘y’ into ‘i’ before adding –er. sunny → sunnier funny → funnier windy → windier

It is necessary to change ‘y’ into ‘i’ before adding –est. sunny → the sunniest funny → the funniest windy → the windiest

3. two syllables or more

Add ‘more’ before the adjective only. fascinating → more fascinating colorful → more colorful interesting → more interesting

Add ‘the most’ before the adjective only.

fascinating → the most fascinating colorful → the most colorful interesting → the most interesting

4. irregular adjectives

good → better bad → worse far → farther/further (*both forms are used when speaking about distance; if giving more detail than only ‘further’ is used.)

good → the best bad → the worst far → the farthest/the furthest (*both forms are used when speaking about distance; if giving more detail than only ‘further’ is used.)

Of course English wouldn’t be English without some exceptions to the rules!!!

funmore funthe most fun (even though it is a short, one-syllable adjective, it is treated like a long adjective.)

Both forms for creating the comparative and superlative can be used for these adjectives!!



the quietest

more quiet

the most quiet


the cleverest

more clever

the most clever

Other adjectives that take both forms are: narrow, shallow and simple

Now take a look and study how the comparative and superlative are used:

Comparativeis used to show a degree of difference between two or more things.

1. This exam was easier than the last week’s exam. (Usually the comparative form is followed by ‘than’ if the object with which you are making the comparison is mentioned.)
2. Taking the train is more expensive than driving.
3. I’d like to have a bigger flat.
4. This garden looks better since you cleaned it up.
5. I think Lisbon’s streets are narrower than Strasbourg’s. / I think Lisbon’s streets are more narrow than Strasbourg’s. (one of the adjectives that takes either form)
6. Seattle, Washington is rainier than Miami, Florida.
7. We went farther / further away on holiday than our neighbor did. (in terms of distance, either irregular form is used)
8. Could you explain further what you mean? (in sense of giving more details, only further is used)

Superlative – is used to show that something has the greatest degree out of a group. It isn’t being compared to anything else, it is being pointed out as having nothing greater in degree to it!

1. Jane is 15, Tom is 12 and Tina is 14. Jane is the oldest and Tina is older than Tom. (of this given group)
2. Tokyo is the largest city in the world. (there is nothing larger anywhere else)
3. David is the most generous person I have ever known.
4. I have tasted three different wines this evening. The Sylvaner and Gewüztraminer were quite good but this Pinot Gris was the best one!
5. Chicago is known as ‘The Windy City’ because it is the windiest city in the United States.
6. His explanation of the events has gone the furthest so far. (has gone into the most detail)
7. Of all the members in my walking club, I have walked the farthest / the furthest. (in terms of distance, both forms are possible.)
8. She always gets the best grades on all the tests. She is the cleverest / the most clever student in our class. (one of the adjectives that takes either form)

Here are some online explanations, quizzes and exercises





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  4. Is the word "windy" one that can be both "windier" and "more windy?"

  5. It falls into the same category as the adjectives like clever and narrow....it can take both forms.

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