Comparative and Superlatives for Beginners

Beginning Grammar

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Jill L Wainright / EyeEm

The comparative and superlative forms in English compare and contrast different objects in English. 

Basketball is more exciting than golf.
That house is bigger than mine.

Our friends have the nicest dog in the town.
She is the happiest person I know.

Comparative Form 

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

Examples:

New York is more exciting than Seattle.
His car is faster than Doug's.
Mary is happier than Anna. 

Comparative Form
1 syllableadjective + -er She is faster than Mary.
2 + syllablesmore + adjectiveJack is more handsome than Jerry. 
2 syllables ending in -ydrop -y from adjective +-ierThat joke was funnier than mine.

 

Comparative Form Explained

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'

Examples:  slow - slower / high - higher

This book is cheaper than that book.
Tom is smarter than Derrick. 

Two Syllable Adjectives Ending in '-y'

Drop '-y' and add '-ier' to two syllable adjectives ending in '-y'. Note adjectives ending in '-y' that are three syllables or more take 'more' rather than '-ier'. 

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

Examples: interesting - more interesting / difficult - more difficult

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

Here is another chart showing how to construct the comparative form in English. 

Superlative Form

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

Examples:

New York is the most exciting city in the USA.
Peter is the luckiest guy in the world. 
That's the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen!

Superlative Form
1 syllablethe + adjective + add -estThat's the tallest building in New York.
2+ syllablesthe most + adjectiveAlice is the most interesting woman I've ever met. 
2 syllables ending in -ydrop -y from adjective +-iestPeter is the funniest guy in my class. 

 

Superlative Form Explained

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.

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

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

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

bad

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

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

Teachers can use this comparative and superlative lesson plan to teach these forms to learners. Start from the basics.