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Comparative and superlative adjectives

The comparative form of an adjective is used for comparing two people or things (e.g. he is taller than me), while the superlative is used for comparing one person or thing with every other member of their group (e.g. he was the tallest boy in the class).



Adjectives make their comparative and superlative forms in different ways, depending on the base adjective itself. Here’s a quick-reference guide to the spelling of comparative and superlative adjectives:



Adjectives with one syllable


In general, if the adjective has one syllable, then the letters -er or -est are added:


warm               warmer              warmest

quick               quicker              quickest

tall                    taller                   tallest



Adjectives with one syllable ending in e


If the adjective has one syllable and ends in e, just add -r or -st:


late                   later                  latest

nice                  nicer                 nicest

large                larger                largest



Adjectives with two syllables


Adjectives with two syllables vary. Some add -er/-est or -r/-st:


feeble                feebler               feeblest


Some use the words ‘more’ for the comparative and ‘most’ for the superlative:


famous           more famous            most famous


Many can do either, like clever:


clever                cleverer/more clever       cleverest/most clever



Adjectives with three syllables or more


If the adjective has three syllables or more, then the words ‘more’ and ‘most’ are used:


interesting         more interesting             most interesting

attractive           more attractive               most attractive



Adjectives that change their spelling


Some adjectives change their spelling when forming the comparative and superlative:


Some one-syllable adjectives that end with a single consonant (e.g. big, wet, sad, fat) double this consonant before adding -er or -est:


big                   bigger               biggest

wet                  wetter              wettest

sad                   sadder             saddest


If the adjective ends in y (e.g. happy, greedy, or tidy), change the y to an i and add -er or -est:


happy               happier             happiest

greedy              greedier           greediest

tidy                    tidier                 tidiest


Some common adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms that you just have to learn:


bad                                        worse              worst

good                                      better               best

little (of a quantity)        less                    least  

much                                     more                most