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Comparing adjectives

Forming comparative adjectives

As well as serving as modifying words like beautiful and big, adjectives are also used for indicating the position on a scale of comparison. The lowest point on the scale is known as the absolute form, the middle point is known as the comparative form, and the highest point is known as the superlative form. Here are some examples:

Absolute Comparative Superlative
This book is long. This book is longer than that book. This is the longest book.
The airport is far. The airport is farther than the train station. This is the farthest airport.
My mom is a good cook. My mom is a better cook than your mom. My mom is the best cook.


The comparative form

When two objects or persons are being compared, the comparative form of the adjective is used. The comparative adjective can be formed in two ways:

  1. Adding –er to the absolute form of the adjective.
  2. Adding the word more before the adjective.

For example:

  1. My essay is longer than yours.
  2. She is more beautiful than her sister.

Here are the rules for choosing and forming the right form:

Add When Example Forming and Exceptions
-er Words of one syllable This is a longer book.
  • Words ending with ‘e‘, add ‘r‘ to the end of the word (e.g., lame → lamer).
  • Words with one vowel and one consonant at the end, double the consonant and add -er to the end of the word (e.g., big → bigger).
  • Words with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end, add -er to the end of the word (e.g., hard → harder).
-er Words of two syllables ending with ‘y This doll is prettier. Change ‘y‘ to ‘i‘, and add -er to the end of the word.
more Words of two syllables not ending with ‘y He is more charming than his friend. Insert more before the adjective
more Three syllable words or longer This is a more powerful cable. Insert more before the adjective

When comparing two things, the word than is positioned between the adjective and the thing being compared. For example:

  1. Apples are tastier than oranges.
  2. This painting is more interesting than that painting.

Superlatives

The superlative is used to say what thing or person has the most of a particular quality within a group or of its kind. The superlative can be formed in two ways:

  1. Adding –est to the absolute form of the adjective.
  2. Adding the word most before the adjective.

For example:

  1. This is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen.
  2. The biggest table in the room.

Here are the rules for choosing and forming the right form:

Add When Example Forming and Exceptions
-est Words of one syllable This is the longest book.
  • Words ending with ‘e‘, add ‘st‘ to the end of the word (e.g., large → largest).
  • Words with one vowel and one consonant at the end, double the consonant and add -est to the end of the word (e.g., big → biggest).
  • Words with more than one vowel or more than one consonant at the end, add -est to the end of the word (e.g., blue → bluest).
-est Words of two syllables ending with ‘y This doll is the prettiest. Change ‘y‘ to ‘i‘, and add -est to the end of the word.
most Words of two syllables not ending with ‘y He is the most charming boy at school. Insert most before the adjective
most Three syllable words or longer This is the most powerful story. Insert most before the adjective

Superlatives are usually preceded by the word the.

Positive form

The positive form is used in cases where there are no differences between the two compared things or persons. To form the positive, we use the word as before and after the absolute form of the adjective. For example:

  1. Danny is as smart as Phillip.
  2. She is as beautiful as her older sister.

This can also be applied in a negative context to indicate that the compared objects are not similar:

  1. Danny is not as smart as Phillip.
  2. She is not as beautiful as her older sister.

Exceptions (irregular forms)

Certain adjectives have irregular forms in the comparative and superlative degrees:

Absolute Comparative Superlative
Good Better Best
Bad Worse Worst
Little Less Least
Much/many/some More Most

Examples of comparing adjectives

  1. This house is bigger than that one.
  2. This flower is more beautiful than that.
  3. He is taller than Mr. Hulas.
  4. He is more intelligent than this boy.
  5. Jonathan is the most handsome man on campus.
  6. This is the prettiest dress in the window.
  7. I lost my most comfortable shoes.
  8. My job is worse than yours.

Comparing adjective exercises

Coming soon